How Long Does EPDM Roof Last?

Rubber roofing installed on top of a commercial building

If you’re a commercial building owner, there’s a chance you’re wondering — how long does EPDM roofing last? The answer is this. It lasts for decades. Normally for 25 – 30 years, but it can also defy the odds and last longer than that.

The roof is arguably the most essential aspect of your building. It’s the first line of defense against extreme heat, hailstorms and other severe weather events. That’s why building a strong and resilient structure is of high priority. You can achieve that by installing a light, single-ply EPDM rubber membrane. EPDM stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, which refers to the components that make up the roofing material.

EPDM roofing membranes are made from synthetic rubber, which is formulated using a combination of ethylene and propylene. It comes in large sheets, ranging from 8 – 20 feet wide, which limits the number of seams the roof has — and with that, limits the potential leakage points.

EPDM membrane comes in black and white, with each suited better for differing climates. The white membrane benefits commercial buildings in hot climates as it reflects UV rays to keep the building cool. Black EPDM membrane is ideal for the opposing type of climate, absorbing heat from UV light rays to keep the building warm.  EPDM roofing material is dimensionally stable, meaning it can recover back to its original form after large swings in temperature. It’s also pliable, so it can absorb impact from hail without any damage. Additional benefits include fire resistance and increased energy efficiency. 

There are three ways EPDM roofing can be installed — through adhesion, mechanical attachment or ballasting.

Adhered — This route involves gluing the membrane down using special adhesives. Adhered EPDM rubber roofs stay put well in high winds.
Mechanically attached — In this method, the EPDM membrane is secured to the insulation and roof deck with fasteners. Wood and steel decks are great candidates for mechanically attached roofing.
Ballasted — This is when a layer of stones or pavers anchor the membrane down. Since the installation process is quick, it’s also very affordable.

This is a common question regarding EPDM: How long does EPDM roofing last? It can last for decades but will need attention over the years. Keeping the roof properly maintained is important, as it is with any other roofing system. The seams and flashing will need to be inspected by a roofing contractor annually, and after extreme weather events occur.

When your EPDM roof is nearing the end of its roof life expectancy, consider adding a roof coating. Resurfacing a flat-roofed building is a great option. It’s a simple action that preserves the life of the roof for decades to come. EPDM roof coatings protect from leakage, improve HVAC performance and are significantly more cost-effective than a full roof replacement. 

TRUCO's Eternal-Seal coatings are formulated from thermoplastic rubber compounds. They provide a durable, time proven resurfacing option for aged EPDM roofing membranes. Even better, the coating specifications can be customized following an evaluation of the roof’s conditions, including the membrane, fastening system, and insulation boards.