Rubber roofing is the most common type of flat roofing material used today. If you are looking to replace your flat roof, most contractors and architects will specify a rubber roof for you. There are several reasons for such “popularity” of rubber roofs, main being the low cost of rubber roofing materials and relatively low overall cost of installing a rubber roof.
Besides the low cost factor, EPDM rubber is also a pretty durable roofing material in terms of how long the membrane will last. You can expect you roofing membrane to last in excess of 40 years. Here is the catch though – the actual roof will most likely begin to leak much sooner.
The weakest point of a rubber roof (as well as most other flat roofing materials) is the seam between overlapping sheets of membrane. Seams of a rubber roof begin to fail as soon as 7-10 years on a properly installed rubber roof. If the roofing contractor used a 6″ seam tape and a 6″ cover tape, you may expect the seams to last 15-20 years.
Rubber roofing materials
Rubber roofing materials have been manufactured in the US and around the world for decades, and by hundreds of manufacturers. Most prominent manufacturers of EPDM rubber roofs in US today are Firestone BP and Carlisle-Syntec. You can often find other brand, but often they are just “private label” rubber roofs manufactured by the above-mentioned companies.
Rubber roofing is manufactured from what is essentially a carbon-rich by-product of oil refining, with addition of special modifiers and stabilizers to make EPDM roofs more durable and long lasting.
Besides the membrane itself, there is also a whole specter of accessories which comprise the EPDM Rubber Roofing System.
Most common rubber roof leaks and repairs:
After being installed for some time, rubber roofs generally begin to leak and require certain maintenance. Usually you will have to repair your seams – this process is called “reseaming”. Another way to repair a rubber roof is to remove old flashing from around roof penetrations and install new Peel and Stick EPDM flashing material.
Most rubber roof failures occur at roof penetrations, flashing and seams. Therefore and rubber roof mechanic when looking for roof leaks, will first check all the seams and flashing, as well as any ponding water spots.
Flashing and penetration repairs are very common, mainly because the flashing material that is glued around the corners and round roof penetrations, was not allow appropriate time to stretch during installation, and self pulled, breaking the adhesive.
Another reason for roof leaks around flashing is the simple fact of adhesive failure, which usually occurs at 7 to 10 years mark after roof installation.
Re-seaming is when a wide cover tape is adhered over a seam that has failed. Re-seaming usually takes place on the entire roof, although only specific sections of the roof can be repaired.