Industrial roofing is one of the key components of any industrial building. Essential in shielding the building and its contents from the elements, as well as occasional hazards posed by flying animals or other airborne fouling agents, the roof is an element which must definitely be given the appropriate amount of importance and consideration when first building or renovating an industrial building.

Sadly, many industrial property owners and managers are not aware of just how important this element is, and tend to neglect or rush their choice of industrial roofing. This, in turn, results in the roofing sheet inevitably damaging, bringing about the need for additional roof repair, and the added expenditures that brings about.

As such, it should be evident why it is important for industrial property owners to know how to pick the right type of industrial roofing for their factory or plant; and a good place to start when attempting to ascertain which might be the right type of roof for any given property is to become aware of the different types of industrial roofing sheets available on the market, and the different characteristics each one possesses.

It is in that spirit that the present article attempts to make potential customers aware of precisely that factor. The paragraphs below will aim to introduce less knowledgeable customers to the different types of industrial roofing sheets they can choose for their factory or plant, so as to help them make an informed decision when making a choice of covering for their property.

EPDM Rubber Roofing

Of all the different types of industrial roofing sheets available on the market, EPDM rubber is one of the most popular and widespread, having been used as the covering for factories the world over for over four decades. Ethylene propylene diene monomer, the type of synthetic rubber used in this type of roofing, possesses several traits which make it a firm favourite among contractors and factory managers alike, and which have earned it its status as the most popular type of industrial roof covering in modern western society.

Perhaps the main trait making EPDM rubber roofs particularly suited to cover industrial sites such as factories and plants is the fact that the material is especially treated to ensure long-lasting life and service. Built from oil-based by-products and treated with stabilising and modifying products for optimal performance, EPDM is highly resistant to some of the main hazards typically faced by industrial roofing, such as UV exposure, inclement weather, roof traffic (from birds as well as humans,) puncturing and impact. These roofs are also able to retain their pliable nature and ability to withstand structural movement even under extreme weather conditions or heavy usage, further contributing to make them highly regarded among industrial roofing specialists.

As well as being durable and resistant, typically with a lifespan of several decades, EPDM roofs also stand out for being easy to install. The process of installing an EPDM rubber roof is relatively straightforward, and requires no specialised equipment; rather, the roof is simply glued to the deck by way of an adhesive, after which the seams are sealed using special tape. This easy, quick installation process is another major selling point in favour of EPDM roofs where builders and factory managers are concerned, and when combined with the sturdy nature of the material, contributes to make this type of industrial roofing the most common and widespread in the western world nowadays.

PVC Roofing

EPDM rubber is not, however, the only material commonly used as industrial roofing; in fact, this type of covering has one major ‘competitor’, which has been around for just as long and is almost as popular.

This is, of course, PVC roofing, a type of industrial roofing developed in the 1960s, precisely as a response to the perceived shortcomings of EPDM rubber roofing. Initially developed in Europe, this type of roofing quickly caught on the world over, and has been the main alternative to EPDM roofs ever since.

A typical PVC roof is made up of a single-ply, polyester-reinforced membrane, with hot-air welded seams. This membrane is subjected to a series of treatments during the manufacturing process in order to enhance its stability, flexibility and resistance to tearing and breakages, ensuring the longevity of the material. The hot-air seams further help make the roofing membrane pliable and water-tight, even under extreme weather conditions, thereby protecting the roofing from common issues such as ponding water, dampness, fungi, bacteria and alkali. In addition, PVC roofing tends to be resistant against UV radiation, fire and chemicals, ensuring well-rounded protection for any industrial property it is applied to.

If there is one downside to PVC-based industrial roofing as opposed to its EPDM counterpart, it is that it is slightly pricier. This is offset, however, by the fact that it is also, in every regard, superior to it: sturdier, longer-lasting, more environmentally friendly and offering superior protection, an important aspect when dealing with sensitive equipment or heavy machinery, such as tends to exist in industrial premises.

Comparison

Ultimately, the choice between EPDM and PVC-based roofing comes down to the personal preference of each factory owner. Both of these materials tend to be warranted for a minimum of ten years, with their lifespans often extending to a second decade, and both offer perfectly adequate protection to any industrial building they are applied to.

PVC tends to be, overall, slightly sturdier and less prone to leakages and other defects in the long run, but is also somewhat pricier, which may be a determining factor for property managers on a budget; on the other hand, EPDM rubber is an affordable and well-rounded option for its price, but also slightly more likely to damage in the short run and with a slightly shorter lifespan. As such, the decision between one or the other ultimately comes down to the factory manager’s expectations; if they do not mind springing for a replacement in the medium term, and would rather spend less in an initial stage, EPDM is an excellent choice; otherwise, PVC should be preferred to this alternative.

Regardless of which material a factory manager goes for, however, it will no doubt come as a relief to know that either of the different types of industrial roofing will offer adequate and comprehensive protection for their industrial facility!