A common feature added to many roofs is a membrane or a thin protective material that prevents leaks.
Roofing membranes can be made of any number of materials and they’re not always necessary to protect your home or business from leaks. Whether you need a roofing membrane or not depends on the structure and material of your roof, the weather in your part of the country, and a number of other factors.
Here is what you should know about roof membranes before you decide with your local roofing contractor in Vancouver if this is something you need:
Roofing membranes are generally made from large sheets of a thin material. They are usually categorized as thermoset or thermoplastic, which indicate their properties.
Thermoset materials, as the name suggests, set (solidify) after being heated. After it sets, a thermoset membrane will permanently retain its shape.
Thermoplastic materials, on the other hand, can be repeatedly reheated and reshaped. Roofing membranes are also categorized by thickness in millimeters. They are usually installed with thicknesses anywhere from 30 to 60 millimeters.
First and foremost, roofing membranes exist to prevent water from leaking into your home. However, not every material that prevents leaks can be considered a membrane. For example, many roofs today are protected from the elements by a few layers of asphalt.
Asphalt has many benefits when it comes to roofing; it’s affordable, durable, and easy to care for. With enough layers of asphalt, a watertight seal can be created on the roof. However, it’s not considered a membrane because it’s too thick.
In many cases, thinner materials are preferable for a number of reasons, including ease of installation and repairs. While affordable in its own right, asphalt roofing can require a lot more work for your roofing contractor to install. Asphalt is also difficult to seal at every point on the roof; modern membrane materials won’t have weak points that will leak into your home.
Asphalt roofing also does not attach directly to your roof, instead, it uses its own weight to sit on the roof. A membrane, on the other hand, can be sealed directly to the roof. Roofing membrane also tends to last longer than asphalt does, as direct sunlight can somewhat quickly degrade asphalt.
There are three main types of roofing membranes, each with its own distinct advantages depending on the type of building and your specific needs:
Thermoset membranes set permanently after being heated. They are generally made from synthetic rubber, although they can be made from other materials. The most common compound that is used is ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber. When this polymer is cured, it sets into its shape through cross-links (bonds) and cannot be reshaped.
A major benefit of this type of thermoset membrane is the fact that it is highly fire resistant. Even if it’s directly struck by lightning during a storm, a thermoset membrane will almost never burn. Sometimes, you can even get a reduction in your insurance for installing it due to its added safety benefits. Contact your insurance provider to ask if they offer any discounts for using an EPDM roof.
Thermoset membranes are also known for being energy efficient; they can reflect the sun’s rays and save you a fortune in air conditioning costs during the hot summer season. Modern synthetic rubber is also not vulnerable to the cold in the way that the rubber roofs of the past were; the extreme cold of the Vancouver winter will not cause it to freeze or crack.
Thermoplastic membrane differs from thermoset membranes in one major way: when it cures, it does not create chemical cross-links. For this reason, it can be reshaped and resealed simply by being heated again. Usually, this type of membrane comes in large rolls and can be seamed together using a hot air welding machine, a standard piece of equipment used by roofing contractors.
Most commonly, thermoplastic roofing membranes are made from a compound called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or one called thermoplastic olefin (TPO). They use plasticizers to impart flexibility, making them an extremely versatile roofing material.
Modified bitumen roofing is a cross between a rubber roofing membrane and an asphalt roof. Bitumen is the black, viscous compound used to create asphalt; the roofing membrane is called ‘modified’ due to the addition of modifiers such as polyester fiber, which creates a strong, durable, and thin roofing material. Essentially, synthetic rubber combined with asphalt.
It is highly flexible, durable, and easy to repair. It can be installed on your roof in a number of ways; cold adhesives are a popular method. Avoiding the use of heat on your roof can sometimes prevent damage, helping your home to retain value.
Now that you are aware of the types of roofing membrane, you should decide whether it is the right type of material for your building. Roofing membranes are generally only used for flat roofs as the chief purpose is to keep water out while preventing it from pooling on your roof and doing damage to the interior space.
If you have a sloped roof, this is rarely an issue as the water will simply slide right off. On a flat roof, it’s critical to have something waterproof, which is why membranes are so useful. They are waterproof, easy to install and repair, and inexpensive.
The downside of roofing membranes, however, is that they are not usually very attractive. This can be mitigated to an extent by painting and other decor, however, for a home with a sloped roof, asphalt shingles are usually a better option.
Your first step in having a roofing membrane installed on your building is to search “roofing contractors Vancouver” and look for reputable contractors in your area. At Executive Roof Services, we offer quality service and products at a great rate. Reach out for an estimate today.