Single-Ply Membrane vs SPF Roofing

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If you are doing your research on single-ply membrane vs SPF roofing, Kauffman Roofing in Jamesport, Missouri would like to provide you with our take on the matter. We are a dedicated commercial roofing company with years of experience installing the numerous options available for commercial roofing. We can help you understand the differences between spray polyurethane foam (SPF), membrane roofs and coatings, even fabric reinforced systems. We’ll steer you in the right direction for your unique needs and situation and always provide a professional install at the best possible price.

Today, let’s focus on two very popular options and get into the details of single-ply membrane vs SPF roofing. Each has its own pros and cons, so if this doesn’t clarify which one to choose, you’re welcome to talk to one of our experts to find the right system for your commercial roofing needs.

Fundamentals: Single-Ply Membrane vs SPF Roofing

Single-Ply Membrane: There are 2 main types of Single-Ply Membrane, Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM) and Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO). These are both essentially rubber roofs that are made up of different chemicals, are applied differently and have different energy efficiency ratings. However, they are both made up of rubber and synthetic sheets which are adhered to the insulation chemically or ballasted to provide a protective layer.

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Roofing: SPF roofing is applied by spraying on. It’s basically a type of closed cell plastic foam that expands to create a solid layer across an existing roof. Spray polyurethane foam is a well-known roofing option that has been around for decades.

Installation: Single-Ply Membrane vs SPF Roofing

Single-Ply Membrane: Insulation is installed once the current substrate is prepped, by either removing the existing roof or by thoroughly cleaning it. Insulation options include Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) and Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso). After install, it is then enclosed with a cover board. The single-ply membrane is attached to the cover board in one of three ways, mechanically, using an industrial-grade adhesive or by ballasting. Then, depending on the material, the seams are sealed with either seam tape or a hot-air gun.

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Roofing: The first step in applying SPF is to thoroughly clean the roof of all contaminants, which includes all dirt and debris. Next, a layer of polyurethane foam is applied. This is made by combining two specific liquids, and the foam is applied via a spray. It then expands and forms a solid surface. This will get a layer of acrylic coating with embedded granules or elastomeric silicone in multiple layers. SPF combines insulating and protective qualities in one material for fast application.

Pros and Cons: Single-Ply Membrane vs SPF Roofing

Now that you have a better idea of what these roofing systems are and how they’re applied, let’s take a look at just a few of the pros and cons to give you a better sense of single-ply membrane vs SPF roofing.

Single-Ply Membrane Pros

  • With proper maintenance, a single-ply membrane can last 30 years
  • Available option for over 60 years has increased the product’s quality; it’s time-tested
  • Client gets a choice of insulation since that is not a part of the application
  • Can achieve Class A Fire Rating by adding fire-retardant chemicals while manufacturing
  • Can be either black or white, making the commercial roofs reflective or retentive

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Roofing Pros

  • With proper maintenance, can last 50 years
  • Very energy efficient offering thermal, air, and moisture barriers
  • Offers the highest R-value pitch available
  • Because the foam can expand and contract easily, this often eliminates the possibility of SPF roofing from cracking and splitting
  • There are no seams or joints to protect from the elements especially water in the form of rain and snow, hence no leaking
  • More environmentally-friendly as there is generally no need to strip off existing roof to apply

Single-Ply Membrane Cons

  • Does not have a hard surface to protect against traffic including loose gravel, dropped tools or other debris that might get walked on, causing punctures
  • UV rays will deteriorate the adhesives more quickly
  • Even though seams are sealed in a variety of ways, they can still lead to leaks. It is essential to keep a commercial roof maintained over the years in order to last longer
  • During single-ply membrane installation, openings such as vents, skylights, or other need special attention to ensure no potential for leaks

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Roofing Cons

  • Needs to be inspected twice annually to ensure no damage has occurred
  • Applying the spray can lead to overspray onto surrounding objects and building, so it’s essential to have the correct installation conditions and experienced SPF roofing installers
  • Only an experienced SPF roofing installer is qualified to perform the work as it takes precise application of each chemical and procedure
  • Inclement weather such as rain, wind or cold weather conditions are not conducive to installing SPF Roofing, so this job must be performed during the warmer months of the year
  • The silicone coating used to seal in the foam comes in one of two colors, white or gray

As you can see, there are some things to look at and consider when comparing single-ply membrane vs SPF roofing. Hopefully, his article from the expert team at Kauffman Roofing in Jamesport, Missouri has been a helpful read. We always strive to help our customers understand the benefits and drawbacks of each roof product option, so that we can find the perfect solution for your commercial roof. Contact us today to learn more and to schedule roofing services.

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