Everything You Need To Know About Rubber Roofing

Everything You Need To Know About Rubber Roofing


February 23, 2022

When choosing the best material for your roof, you might wonder if rubber is the way to go.

This type of roof is called EPDM in the roofing business, which stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer.

What is a rubber roof?

A rubber roof contains rubber or plastic polymers, but sometimes it can contain both. The materials are derived from recycled products, such as sawdust, slate dust, and tires.

That’s not the only reason why you should consider installing a rubber roof on your home. Here’s everything you should know about it. 

Types Of Rubber Roofing 

Everything You Need To Know About Rubber Roofing

Usually rubber roofing materials come in rolls. These are installed as overlapping sheets.

You can also find rubber roof shingles that look a lot like slate tiles. These come in a variety of colors and styles to suit your house. 

Let’s explore the different types of rubber roofing in greater detail. 

  • EPDM is easy to install because it’s installed with a singular sheet instead of layered rolls. It’s hail- and fire-resistant, which makes it tough. That said, it can shrink under certain conditions, which can expose layers underneath the rubber roofing material, letting water inside the home. 
  • TPO, or thermoplastic polyolefin, is installed with a hot air gun that welds seams along its surface. These seams are strong and low maintenance as compared to the adhesives used in EPDM roofs. But, this welding requires a greater amount of skill and takes longer than installing an EPDM roof.
  • Rubber shingles. These look like wood or slate, while being eco-friendly because they’re made from recycled plastic and tires. Since they can be installed on steep roofs or over existing roofs, they are versatile. However, they can smell unpleasant after installation.
  • PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. This is made of thermoplastic material, is flexible, and is resistant to water. It contains chlorine salts and plasticizers, both of which can be considered drawbacks of this type of roofing material. Such ingredients can cause the roof to deteriorate faster than what you’ll experience with other rubber roofing materials. 

What Are The Pros Of Rubber Roofs? 

Everything You Need To Know About Rubber Roofing

There are many good reasons to consider a rubber roof for your home. These include the following. 

  • A rubber roof has a long lifespan. While asphalt roofs can last you for up to 20 years, a rubber roof can last for much longer than that – it can last for between 30 and 50 years.
  • It isn’t difficult to maintain. As long as the rubber roof has been installed correctly it generally won’t experience any leaks or cracks. A latex sealant can be used to effectively fix any cracks if they do occur, which further makes it easy to maintain a rubber roof. In addition, the biggest thing to do for rubber roof maintenance is to repaint it with acrylic paint every 10 years. 
  • It can tolerate extreme temperatures. Rubber roofs can tolerate extreme weather and they’re resistant to thermal shock so they won’t crack as a result of very hot or cold temperatures. They’re also waterproof.
  • Rubber roofing materials are easy to install and lightweight, which can reduce labour costs.
  • Rubber roofs help your home save energy. They insulate your home by decreasing how much heat loss is experienced. When they are light in color, these roofs reflect the sun’s heat to keep the inside of the house cooler during hot months. This also helps you to save money on your energy bill.
  • Rubber roofs are resistant to fire. This is why some insurance companies give you discounts if you install them.
  • While many rubber roofs are black in color, you can find some that are white or off-white. You can also paint your rubber roof with acrylic paint, which will not only make it suit your style but increase the roof’s lifespan. 

Rubber Roofing Cons

Everything You Need To Know About Rubber Roofing

Although there are many advantages of installing a rubber roof, there are some potential drawbacks to consider. 

  • It can be difficult to find someone who is skilled in installing rubber roofs because they’re not as common or popular as other types of roofs, such as asphalt shingle roofs.
  • Rubber roofs need to be strengthened if you add a second story, balcony, or deck to your home.
  • Rubber expands and contracts depending on changes in temperature, so it can’t be repaired or installed in less than 45- degree weather. 

How Is A Rubber Roof Installed? 

A rubber roof is easier to install than a slate or asphalt roof. The seamless roll type of rubber roofing is the most budget-friendly and energy-efficient option, and it is resistant to cracks and leaks because there are no seams for water to flow underneath.

Rubber shingles are lighter than both asphalt and slate, so they’re easier to apply and place on the roof. You can also apply rubber shingles on top of the rubber roof – this is a smart way to make the roof look more attractive.

Before applying the roof roll or shingles, the roof deck is cleaned and stripped, then coated with an adhesive. The rubber rolls are cut and spread across the roof. They have to be smoothed out to prevent any air bubbles forming. Then, the seams are taped and sealed tightly so that no water can penetrate them.

Rubber shingles need to be installed on ice and water shields, which are bought in large rolls, as well as on tar paper. 

Three Types Of Rubber Roof Installation 

Everything You Need To Know About Rubber Roofing

There are different ways in which you can install rubber roofs.

Ballasted Roofs 

In this type of installation, the rubber membrane is glued to the edges and secured in place by the addition of a layer of stone ballast that’s installed over it. This is a cost-effective option, but it comes with a big drawback: it’s got a short lifespan because it is susceptible to shrinking and expansion. 

Mechanically Fastened 

This type of rubber roof installation uses aluminum bars that are fastened on the edges of rubber sheets. This secures them in place instead of relying on glue. However, this is not the most secure option, especially during strong winds.

Fully Adhered

This type of installation is when the rubber sheets are fully secured to the roof with glues that have been specially formulated. This is considered to be the gold standard for rubber roof installation. 

Where Can You Install A Rubber Roof?

You might be wondering if you can install rubber roofing materials in your roof. Here is what to know.

You Can Install Rubber Roofs On Low-Sloped And Flat Roofs 

The best application for rubber roofing materials is on low-sloped or flat roofs. If you can’t use shingles on your roof, a rubber roof is a good alternative. This is because it’s resistant to moisture and therefore protects the structures underneath it from leaks and water damage

Shingles are not always recommended for flat or low-sloped roofs. This is because they require a stacked formation as the shingles are layered on top of each other to provide a stronger barrier against moisture.

On flat or low-sloped roofs, water can move in different directions and penetrate underneath the shingles, which causes leaks and other water damage. This is why installing rubber roofing is ideal because it protects the roof structure more effectively.  

You Can Install Rubber Roofs Over Shingles

You can use rubber roofing on pitched roofs if you want to cover up the existing roof. This can be used to improve the appearance of your home. Rubber roofing will be placed over the top of the current shingles and secured with rubber membrane. 

How To Maintain A Rubber Roof

Everything You Need To Know About Rubber Roofing

Once you’ve had your rubber roof installed, you’ll want to ensure you properly maintain it. Here are some important rubber roof maintenance tips to follow. 

  • Inspect your rubber roof regularly. If you can’t do so from the ground, use a ladder to climb onto the roof. Check for any debris, damage in the form of cracks or crumbling, and inspect the seams to be sure they’re not lifting.
  • Clean your roof once a year. Use a soft-bristle broom to remove leaves and debris, and a gentle detergent and wet mop to scrub at any stubborn spots. You can clean your rubber roof effectively with dish soap and water. 
  • Check your gutters. As with any type of roof, checking your gutters regularly is an important part of roof maintenance. Make sure to clean them of debris and leaves that can cause them to become clogged. 
  • Trim branches. If you have trees surrounding your roof, make sure you trim them back so that you prevent debris from falling onto the roof and damaging it. This also makes it easier to keep your rubber roof in good condition because it won’t be littered with leaves and twigs regularly, both of which can cause problems such as gutter blockages. 
  • Consider coating the rubber roof with liquid rubber or sealant. This is something that some homeowners do to prevent maintenance in future as it strengthens the rubber roof against cracks and damage. 

How Much Do Rubber Roofs Cost? 

Whether you want to replace or install a rubber roof, you can expect to pay an average of between $6,000 and $18,000.

The reason why there’s such a range is because various factors can affect the price, such as the price of materials and labor, as well as any customizations that are required during installation. 

The price of a rubber roof will also vary depending on the type of rubber you want. For example, a TPO roof will cost between $1.50 and $5 per square foot, and between $2.50 and $9 for labour per square foot.

By comparison, PVC roofs will cost between $0.75 to $2.50 per square foot while labour for the same area will cost between $4 and $11. As for EPDM, you can expect to pay between $1 and $4.50 per square foot, and labour costs are $3.25 and $8 per square foot. 

Should You Paint Your Rubber Roof White?

Everything You Need To Know About Rubber Roofing

Rubber roofs come in a standard black color, which might not be appealing to everyone. Black also absorbs more heat, which can be transferred to your living space.

You can have your rubber roof painted white, which reflects the sun and ensures you can maintain a cool living space. This is something to consider when installing a rubber roof if you live in a hot climate. 

Related Questions

Can you walk on a rubber roof?

Although a rubber roof can handle light foot traffic, it can be damaged by heavier traffic. So, you shouldn’t walk around on your rubber roof unless you really have to.

How long does it take to install a rubber roof?

Whether you’re installing the roof yourself or having it installed by a professional, this usually takes between one and two days. This is because flat roofs require less materials than steeper roofs.


If you want to install a new roof, you might consider a rubber roof. This has many advantages, while being easy to install.

However, there are some important things to note when it comes to rubber roofs, such as how to maintain them so that they last a long time.

After reading this guide to rubber roofing, you’re armed with information that will help you take the next steps if you’ve decided to install a rubber roof, such as how much you can expect to pay for it.

Reference Articles:


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.