Pitched roofs are designed to let rain and other precipitation slide off. Flat roofs have no drainage, making it easy for water to build up and cause damage. This is why rubber roofing is a good choice for flat surfaces. Evan Greene, Sales Manager of Northeast Exteriors for the New England Branch of Long Home Products, explains that PVC membrane roofing is better in low slope roofing because it can handle water pooling better than metal or asphalt.
Rubber has waterproofing properties that make it more difficult for water to enter your home than other roofing materials. It’s also weather- and fire-resistant has minimal upkeep. Installing a rubber roof usually costs $7,000–$23,000. This guide covers frequently asked questions about rubber roofing and breaks down other cost factors.
What Is Rubber Roofing?
Most rubber roofing is made of single-ply membrane or long, single-layer sheets of thermoplastics. These membranes are almost exclusively installed on flat roofs or low-slope roofs, since these styles need more waterproofing than pitched roofs. The rubber roofing membrane comes in rolls that are adhered, screwed, or ballasted to the wood or metal roof surface.
Rubber shingles are an alternative to common asphalt shingles for pitched roofs. These shingles are typically made of 75%–95% recycled tires and other plastics. The installation process is similar to other types of roof shingles. Rubber shingles cost more than single-ply membrane, but they’re more durable.
Rubber Roof Membrane Types
There are multiple types of synthetic rubber membranes. Each type has different pros and cons.
Thermoplastic polyolefin, or TPO, is a relatively new roofing material. It was invented in the 1980s and first used on roofs in the 1990s. TPO must be welded with a heat gun, making it more complicated to install and maintain than other membrane types. TPO roofing is available in multiple colors. Those in warm climates can choose white roofing for improved energy efficiency.
Pros and Cons of TPO
✓ Long-lasting, heat-welded seams
✓ Surface reflects UV rays
✘ Complex installation and maintenance
✘ Shorter life span
Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) is the only true synthetic rubber typically used in roofing. It’s also the earliest type of rubber roof membrane, so it’s been well-tested over the years. It can last up to 60 years with proper maintenance and usually lasts at least 20.
Pros and Cons of EPDM
✓ Easy to install
✓ Long life span
✓ Resistant to fire and hail damage
✘ Glued seams may leak
✘ Only comes in black, which retains heat
Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is typically the most expensive rubber roofing membrane, but it’s also the most flexible and leak-resistant. Unfortunately, it releases dioxins and chlorine as it breaks down over time.
Pros and Cons of PVC
✓ 20-year life span
✓ Heat-welded seams
✓ High weather-resistance
✘ High cost
✘ Less eco-friendly
Average Rubber Roof Installation Cost
Rubber roofs cost an average of $7,000–$23,000. Where your roofing project falls within that range depends on the following factors.
- Roof size: Rubber roofs cost $4.25–$14 per square foot.
- Membrane type: EPDM is the least expensive single-ply membrane, followed by TPO and PVC.
- Labor: Labor accounts for about 60% of professional roof installation costs.
Cost by Roof Size
Roofing materials and installation costs are typically priced by square foot, so the larger your home is, the more a new roof will cost. The average roof is about 1,700 square feet. A new roof would cost $7,225–$23,800 for a project of this size.
Cost by Membrane Type
Rubber roofing membranes don’t vary widely in price, but there are some differences. Make sure to balance cost with durability. The less often you need roof replacement, the less you’ll spend over time.
A new rubber roof costs an average of $7,225–$23,800. About $4,335–$14,280 of that goes to labor. Rubber membranes that need to be installed with heat guns will cost more than other types because of the extra time and skill required.
Additional Cost Considerations
Here are some other factors that may impact your rubber roof cost.
Climates with extreme temperatures or weather may require different, more expensive types of rubber roofing. For example, those in hot climates will likely want light-colored rubber or rubber with reflective coatings.
Old Roof Removal
You’ll need to demolish or remove your existing roof before you can install your new rubber roof. This can cost anywhere from $1–$5 per square foot.
Roof features such as chimneys or skylights that require the roofing contractor to penetrate the rubber sheeting require extra flashing and sealant to remain waterproof. These also require more time to work around, which will increase labor costs.
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DIY vs. Professional Rubber Roof Installation
Most roofing projects aren’t do-it-yourself (DIY) jobs. Rubber roofing is usually only installed on flat roofs, so it’s a little more DIY-friendly than shingles, but most homeowners should still hire a professional.
Professional Rubber Roof Installation
It’s wise to hire a rubber roofing contractor—rather than a general roofing contractor—to install a rubber roof. Professionals with experience applying membrane roofing will know how to seal it properly to ensure it’s waterproof. A roofing company is also the best choice for installing roofing that needs to be sealed with specialty heat guns, such as TPO and PVC. This costs more money than doing it yourself, but the project will get done much quicker.
DIY Rubber Roof Installation
You may be able to install rubber roofing yourself in some circumstances. For example, if you’re using glue-sealed EPDM or the building is only one story and has few roof penetrations. However, you risk creating an improper seal that could cause water damage to the underlying roof decking if you don’t know what you’re doing.
How To Save on Rubber Roof Installation
Here are some ways to save on rubber roof installation, even if you opt to hire professionals.
- Compare pricing: Get quotes from multiple roofing contractors. Be wary of any contractors who charge much more or much less than others.
- Complete your project in the off-season: Roofing companies often charge less during late fall or early winter, when they’re less in-demand.
- Do parts of the job yourself: Remove and dispose of your old roofing materials on your own if possible.
- Opt for affordable materials: EPDM is the least expensive rubber roofing material, but be sure to balance price with long-term durability. Also, carefully review the warranty.
It’s usually best to let professionals deal with roof repair and replacement, especially for a specialized material like rubber. We recommend getting at least three estimates from different companies before hiring a contractor. If you decide to take the project on yourself, make sure you know what you’re getting into and take all necessary safety precautions.
Free quote: Get your roof installation quote today
How To Hire a Professional
Here are some tips for finding the right rubber roofing contractor.
- Ask whether they have specific experience installing the rubber membrane type you want.
- Inquire about extra charges for things such as roof penetrations, slope, etc.
- Check the company’s Better Business Bureau rating and accreditation status.
- Ask for references and check customer reviews on sites such as Yelp and Trustpilot.
- Get all estimates in writing and ask about the project timeline.
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