The Durability of Vinyl Roofing Membranes
Around the world, and going back decades, billions of square feet of thermoplastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or vinyl, roofing are installed on buildings in diverse climates. It is a durable roofing material that has proven performance to withstand thermal cycles, wind loads, structural movement and temperature extremes. Vinyl roofing membranes are constructed of a flexible, tear- and water-resistant polymer reinforced with fiberglass non-woven mats or polyester woven scrims. These roofing components ensure vinyl's dimensional stability, durability, and capacity to respond to a building's normal expansion and contraction process as well as challenges from the elements.
What makes vinyl so durable?
- Heat-welded seams – The heat-welded seams of thermoplastic vinyl form a permanent, watertight bond that is stronger than the roofing membrane itself. This is a major advantage over roofing systems that rely on adhesives, tapes, and caulks to seal the seams.
- Does not support combustion – The vinyl polymer's composition gives this material an inherent fire resistance not found in alternative materials without additives. Vinyl roofing membranes are difficult to ignite, burn very slowly and do not support combustion, tending to self extinguish when the source of flame is removed. Vinyl roofs have passed both FM and UL fire testing, achieving unlimited slope approvals.
- Watertight membrane – Vinyl roofing membranes have been used successfully in waterproofing applications for more than 30 years. They are manufactured to remain watertight in extreme conditions, including constant dampness, ponding water, high and low alkaline conditions and exposure to plant roots, fungi and bacteria.
- Meets or exceeds wind uplift requirements – Properly designed vinyl roofing systems provide durability and can meet or exceed the wind uplift requirements needed to obtain FM approvals. Many in-service membranes have survived the onslaught of Category 3 hurricanes, and can be designed specifically for storm-prone climates.
References & News
- Predictive Service Life Tests for Roofing Membranes [145 KB]
- Field Investigation and Laboratory Testing of Exposed Poly (Vinyl Chloride) Roof Systems [350 KB]
- Vinyl Roofing Systems – High Performance Over A Long Life [29 KB]
- Is Your Roofing Material Cracking Under the Elements?
- Fire Testing of Membrane Roof Systems
Vinyl Durability News
Durability Research Finds Vinyl Roofing Ranks High Among Common Materials in Aging Comparisons
Download full document [26.1 KB]
Vinyl Roofing Systems: Questions Answered
Read the full article here
Meeting Roofing Needs – Vinyl Addresses a Range of Roofing Requirements
Download full document [580 KB]
Durability Case Studies and Testimonials
Baldwin Wallace University
Carnegie Mellon Library
Brookshire Grocery Company
Rittman Exempted Schools
University of California-Davis
Roofs made of PVC contribute significantly to achieving two major objectives of green building programs – the reduction of both building cooling loads and the urban heat island effect. See why PVC membranes are the sustainable choice among commercial roofing systems »
PVC membranes' aesthetic qualities make them the choice for any roof design. Find out why PVC is recommended for projects with aesthetic considerations here »