Plastic Roofing Is That A Thing

Plastic Roofing: Is That A Thing?

by

James
February 24, 2022
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When you think of installing a new roof on your home, you probably don’t think of plastic as being a viable roofing material.

It’s usually associated with providing coverage for other structures on your property, such as greenhouses, patio rooms, and sun rooms. 

Can you use plastic for skylights?

Polycarbonate, which is used for various purposes around the home, can be used for skylights instead of glass. This is because it’s lighter than glass and provides a bit more insulation, therefore making your home much cozier.

But, what, exactly is plastic roofing? Is polycarbonate a viable roofing solution? Read on to find out. 

What Is Plastic Roofing? 

Plastic Roofing Is That A Thing

Plastic roofing is basically called polycarbonate roofing. Since polycarbonate is resilient and strong, while being light, it can tolerate extreme temperatures. 

Polycarbonate roof panels are made from thermoplastic polymer that’s see-through and comes in a variety of thicknesses and sizes. Polycarbonate is used to make greenhouses because it’s flexible and lightweight, both of which make it a good choice for a roof because it will be easier to install. 

Types Of Polycarbonate Roofing

Polycarbonate roofing comes in two forms: foam-backed polycarbonate sheets and translucent polycarbonate sheets.

Foam-backed polycarbonate sheets

This plastic roofing is light in weight and commonly used for a variety of applications, such carports, roofs, sheds, and industrial buildings.

Translucent polycarbonate sheets

This plastic roof is used in patios, sunrooms, or other rooms where you want to invite natural light into the home. These roof panels have a protective layer of film that’s UV-resistant so that it will filter out the UV rays. 

What About PVC Roofing?

PVC roofing is strong and durable. It’s made out of polyvinyl chloride and is renowned in the construction industry for using a lower quantity of oil and petroleum as compared to TPO or EPDM roofs.

Since PVC is stable and durable, it can be installed with seams that are heat-welded. This means it doesn’t need any adhesives, so it can contract and expand more effectively.

Note that PVC is the plastic roofing that you can use on your home, whereas the other two we featured are ideal for smaller areas, but we’ll dive into that later in this article! 

What Are The Advantages Of Plastic Roofing? 

Plastic Roofing Is That A Thing

There are many advantages linked to installing plastic roofing. These include the following: 

It’s cost-effective 

Panels of polycarbonate roofing are lighter than materials such as glass. This makes them easy to install and reduces the amount of time required for installation, which also reduces how much you have to pay for labour.

Installation requires a lighter frame than what you’ll require for steel, wood, aluminum, or glass, which further decreases the cost of installation, labour, and materials.

PVC roofing is also cost-effective. Although TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) is cheaper than PVC, it does require more intensive installation, which bumps up its cost. 

It’s strong

PVC roofing is durable and strong. It’s resistant to moisture, so it maintains the quality of your roofing structure. This is thanks to its hot-air welded seams that form a waterproof bond.

It’s lightweight

Polycarbonate is light in weight, which makes it easy to transport and install, which can reduce your installation costs. PVC roofs are also lightweight, and they can be installed directly over existing roof membranes. 

It’s resistant to damage 

Plastic roofing is resistant to impact, so it’s not likely to break easily when struck by hailstones, snowfall, or birds.

Plastic Roofing Is That A Thing

It has a decent lifespan

A plastic roof has a long lifespan. Polycarbonate can last for up to 15 years, and most roof manufacturers will give you a 10-year guarantee. If you’re installing a PVC roof on your house, it will last for about 25 years, but you could extend that to 30 years by having it properly installed and maintained. 

It’s low-maintenance 

Plastic PVC roofing is easy to take care of because it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. It has a flexible membrane that is easy to repair by heat-air welding problem areas, which can be done by the pros. 

What Are The Disadvantages Of Plastic Roofing? 

Although plastic roofs have many benefits, there are some potential drawbacks to know about. These include the following:

Plastic roofs haven’t been around for a long time

Plastic roofs are not as known as traditional roofing materials such as asphalt shingles or metal. Since plastic hasn’t been around for a long time in the roofing market, it’s not as easily recommended as other types of roofs. We also don’t know how well plastic roofs will really fare in the long run as compared to more well-known materials.

Plastic roofs might not fit into the neighborhood

When choosing the type of roof you want on your home, it’s essential to drive around your neighborhood and see what other people in the area are choosing. This will ensure that you blend in, which will prevent your house from standing out like a sore thumb. Plastic roofs are tricky in this regard because it’s not easy to make them mimic traditional roofs. 

Plastic roofs can’t handle heavy weight

You should never put heavy weight on a polycarbonate plastic roof as it won’t be able to tolerate it. Therefore, you shouldn’t walk on this type of plastic roof as you will risk damaging it. That said, you can walk on a PVC roof because it’s strong – but you just have to be sure that your roof’s decking is strong enough to handle the weight and provide you with enough support. 

How To Install Plastic Roofing 

Plastic Roofing Is That A Thing

When installing polycarbonate roofing, you should get it in pre-cut sheets as this will make your installation much easier. If you have to cut the polycarbonate roofing yourself, having the right tools will enable you to do it faster and more effectively. Here are two methods. 

  • Use a sharp knife and make sure you cut the polycarbonate roofing in the same direction as its grooves, instead of across them. 
  • However, if you want to cut across the grooves you should use a fine-tooth circular saw or a hand saw. A fine-tooth jigsaw should also be used if you have to cut curves in the plastic. 

When it comes to PVC roofing, you can install it in different ways, such as by choosing a fully-adhered installation. This is when the PVC sections are glued with an adhesive. Another installation method is mechanical installation, which is when the roof is held together by parts, such as screws and plates.

This makes it strong enough to tolerate high wind speeds. Finally, there’s a ballasted installation. This is when the PVC is placed on the roof and then secured in place with something heavy, such as rocks. 

Can You Use Plastic Roofing For Your Entire House?

Plastic Roofing Is That A Thing

While plastic roofing has become more popular over recent years, it’s not always ideal for an entire house unless you opt for PVC. This is because of how polycarbonate roofing can’t handle a lot of weight, and, although it’s durable, it can be scratched really easily.

If you use it all over your house, you’ll find that it will become unsightly with scratches really quickly. This is why it’s recommended that you install plastic roofing in an area of the home where scratches won’t bother you or be unsightly, such as by limiting its use to your sunroom or patio.

That said, if you want to install a plastic roof for your entire home, you should look to PVC roofing. 

When Is PVC Roofing A Good Idea? 

PVC roofing is suitable for flat roofs. This is because it contains plasticizers that give it strength and durability.

PVC is one of the best materials for flat roofs because of these plastics that make it resistant to tears and punctures which you might experience with other types of flat roofs.

Since it’s also resistant to chemicals, PVC roofing is suitable for commercial buildings.

PVC comes in membrane form, which gets rolled onto the roof and then secured to the deck, such as with nails or special glues. 

You can also get PVC shingles. These come with a lip or attachment to make them easy to install. You will use this lip to nail the shingles down onto a nailer strip which will get installed on tar paper.

After you’ve laid down the PVC shingles, you will then have to install the flashing and other elements of the roof. 

How Much Does A PVC Roof Cost?

A PVC roof will cost between $4 and $7 per square foot, including the costs for labor. So, if you have a roof that’s approximately 1500 square feet, the total cost would be between $6,000 to $18,000.

PVC comes in different patterns and colors, and these will affect the price of its installation. Although white is the most common choice for a PVC roof, because it’s energy-efficient by reflecting the sun’s rays, you can find PVC roofing in other colors, such as grey, tan, or black.

Some PVC roofing comes in patterns and designs to mimic other roofing styles, such as traditional shingles. These can help you to customize your roof. 

Are Polycarbonate And PVC Eco-Friendly? 

Plastic Roofing Is That A Thing

While plastic isn’t biodegradable, it might surprise you to find out that polycarbonate can be melted down so that it gets reused. This prevents the plastic from ending up as waste in landfills. 

Approximately 47 percent of PVC’s resin raw materials come from petroleum. This is less than other roofing membranes, which makes PVC kinder to the environment.

The good news is that PVC can also be recycled. When your PVC roof is uninstalled, its parts are removed from any additional materials before being sent to a recycling center.  Here, it will be processed and reground into vinyl products. This recycled vinyl is used in various ways, such as by making fencing. 

Why Aren’t More Plastic Roofs Being Used? 

If you don’t know anyone who has a plastic roof, you might wonder why this is still the case. With all its great advantages, why are plastic roofs not as common as other types of roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles?

It’s important to remember that plastic roofing hasn’t been around for as long as other types of traditional roofing, as we mentioned earlier. Therefore, it’s still not known just how well plastic roofs will fare in the long term, but their popularity is increasing.

Although homeowners might still want to choose traditional roofing materials, such as asphalt which is the most popular roof in the U.S., there’s definitely a place for plastic – and it’s on your roof! 

Related Questions 

Is plastic roofing resistant to fire?

PVC roofs are fire-resistant because they burn slowly and don’t ignite easily. This is why they’re usually the go-to choice for establishments such as restaurants. 

Can you paint PVC roofing sheets?

You can paint PVC, but you have to ensure that you purchase suitable paints that are formulated for plastic. You will also need to apply a primer before painting the roof. 

Conclusion 

If you’re looking for the best roofing material, you might consider plastic.

While it’s not as common as other types of roofing materials, PVC roofing is worth checking out. While polycarbonate is ideal for smaller areas in the home, such as greenhouses and sunrooms, PVC is a viable roofing material for your entire home.

In this article, we’ve looked at what to know about plastic roofs, as well as their pros and cons, so you can decide if it’s the right roofing choice for your home.

Reference Articles:

James

James Weldon is a professional roofing contractor with many years of experience on the job. He does not only handle large projects and provide excellent services for his company’s many clients; James Weldon also dedicates his spare time to teaching others useful tricks of the trade. Using BuildCampus as an avenue to reach many roofers and aspiring roofing contractors, James Weldon continues to provide high-quality educational posts and buying recommendations for anyone who visits the website.