Call today: 720-724-6882

What is a PVC Roof?

What is a PVC Roof?

A PVC roof is a type of single-ply roofing membrane that is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is a thermoplastic material that is used for its durability, flexibility, and resistance to weathering, chemicals, and UV radiation. PVC roofing is commonly used for commercial and industrial buildings, but it can also be used for residential roofing.

PVC roofing membranes come in a variety of thicknesses, colors, and textures. They can be installed using various methods, such as mechanically attached, fully adhered, or ballasted. PVC roofing systems are known for their energy efficiency and reflectivity, as they can help reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the building, thus lowering cooling costs.

In this article, you will learn: the installation process of a PVC roofing system, the life-expectancy of a PVC roof, how UV light effects PVC, coating options for PVC roofs, & potential issues of a PVC roof membrane.

How is a PVC roofing system installed?

The installation process of a PVC roofing system involves several steps, which may vary depending on the specific roofing design, size of the roof, and other factors. However, the following is a general outline of the steps involved:

  1. Roof inspection and preparation: The first step is to inspect the existing roof to identify any damage, leaks, or other issues. The roof structure should be repaired or replaced before the installation of the PVC membrane.
  2. Installation of the insulation: In new construction or full roof replacement, the next step is to install the insulation layer. This layer provides thermal resistance and helps prevent condensation from forming under the PVC membrane. The insulation layer can be installed using different methods, such as mechanically attached or adhered.
  3. Installation of the PVC membrane: The PVC membrane is then installed over the insulation layer. The membrane can be attached using various methods, such as mechanically attached, fully adhered, or ballasted. Mechanical attachment involves using fasteners to secure the membrane to the roof deck, while fully adhered installation involves applying adhesive to the roof deck and then bonding the membrane to it.
  4. Welding the seams: Once the PVC membrane is installed, the seams are welded together using a hot air welding tool or solvent welding. This process creates a watertight seal and ensures that the roof is leak-proof.
  5. Flashing installation: Flashing is then installed around any penetrations or edges to provide additional protection against leaks. This includes installation of drip edge, wall flashing, and roof curbs.
  6. Final inspection: Finally, the roof is inspected to ensure that the installation is complete and all details are properly addressed. Any final touches or repairs are done at this stage.
Hot air gun welding a seam on a membrane roof.

The installation process of a PVC roofing system involves preparing the roof, installing the insulation, membrane, and flashing, and welding the seams together to create a leak-proof roof. It is important to hire a professional roofing contractor to ensure that the installation is done correctly and to maintain the longevity and effectiveness of the PVC roofing system.

How long does a PVC roof membrane last?

The service life of a PVC roof can vary depending on several factors such as the quality of the installation, climate, maintenance, and foot traffic on the roof. However, PVC roofing systems are known for their durability and longevity.

On average, a properly installed and maintained PVC roof can last anywhere from 20 to 30 years, although some manufacturers claim that their products can last up to 50 years. It is important to note that regular maintenance and inspections are crucial to extending the lifespan of a PVC roof. This includes cleaning the roof, repairing any damage or leaks promptly, and ensuring that the flashing and other details are in good condition.

Additionally, the performance of a PVC roof can be affected by environmental factors such as temperature fluctuations, exposure to UV radiation, and wind uplift. To maximize the lifespan of a PVC roof, it is important to choose a high-quality product, have it installed by a professional roofing contractor, and perform regular maintenance and inspections.

Seam failure on an aged PVC roof.

How does UV light effect a PVC roof?

UV (ultraviolet) radiation from sunlight can have an impact on the service life of a PVC roof. Over time, exposure to UV light can cause the PVC membrane to degrade and become brittle, which can result in cracks, tears, or other damage. This can ultimately lead to leaks and shorten the lifespan of the roof.

To counteract the effects of UV radiation, PVC roofing manufacturers add special chemicals called UV stabilizers to the membrane. These stabilizers help prevent the breakdown of the PVC material by absorbing and dissipating UV radiation.

In addition to the use of UV stabilizers, other measures can also be taken to protect PVC roofs from UV damage. For example, applying a reflective coating or painting the roof with a light color can help reduce the amount of UV radiation absorbed by the roof. Regular cleaning and maintenance can also help prevent dirt and debris from accumulating on the roof, which can absorb and retain heat and accelerate the degradation of the PVC material.

Overall, while exposure to UV radiation can impact the service life of a PVC roof, the use of UV stabilizers and proper maintenance can help mitigate its effects and prolong the lifespan of the roof.

Can a PVC roof be coated?

Roof coatings can be an effective way to restore the performance and extend the service life of a PVC roof. There are several types of roof coatings that can be used on PVC roofs, including:

  1. Acrylic coatings: These coatings are water-based and typically used to restore the appearance and reflectivity of the PVC membrane. They are applied in multiple layers and provide a protective barrier against UV radiation, as well as water and other environmental elements. Acrylic coatings can be tinted to different colors and can also be used as a base coat for other types of coatings.
  2. Silicone coatings: Silicone coatings are another type of water-based coating that can be used on PVC roofs. They are highly resistant to UV radiation and can withstand extreme temperatures, making them ideal for use in areas with harsh climates. Silicone coatings are also known for their self-leveling properties, which can help smooth out any uneven areas on the roof.
  3. Polyurethane coatings: Polyurethane coatings are solvent-based and are typically used to provide additional protection against foot traffic and other forms of abrasion. They are highly durable and resistant to chemicals and UV radiation, making them suitable for use in industrial and commercial settings. Polyurethane coatings are also available in different colors and can be applied as a topcoat over other types of coatings.
  4. Butyl coatings: Butyl coatings are a type of rubber-like material that can be used to restore the waterproofing properties of a PVC roof. They are highly flexible and can withstand extreme temperature fluctuations, making them ideal for use in areas with harsh weather conditions. Butyl coatings can be applied over the entire roof or targeted to specific areas where leaks or damage are present.

The type of roof coating used to restore a PVC roof will depend on the specific needs and conditions of the roof. A professional roofing contractor can help determine the best type of coating and application method for a given situation.

[Read: Using Roof Coatings On Your Commercial Roof]

What are the issues with PVC roofing?

While PVC roofing systems offer many benefits, such as durability, energy efficiency, and ease of installation, there are also some issues associated with them. Some of the common issues with PVC roofing include:

  1. Cost: PVC roofing can be more expensive than some other roofing options, such as asphalt shingles or metal roofs. The cost of materials and installation can vary depending on factors such as the size of the roof, the complexity of the installation, and the location of the project.
  2. Expansion and contraction: PVC roofing can expand and contract in response to temperature changes. This can cause stress on the seams and edges of the roof, which can lead to leaks or other damage over time. Proper installation techniques and attention to detail can help mitigate this issue.
  3. Weathering: Over time, exposure to UV radiation, wind, and other environmental factors can cause PVC roofing to weather and degrade. This can lead to cracking, warping, or other types of damage. Regular maintenance and inspection can help identify and address weathering issues before they become more serious.
  4. Environmental concerns: PVC roofing is made from synthetic materials and can have a negative impact on the environment. The production and disposal of PVC materials can contribute to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. However, some manufacturers are working to produce more environmentally friendly PVC products.
  5. Foot traffic: PVC roofing is not designed to withstand heavy foot traffic. Walking on a PVC roof can cause damage to the membrane or other components, which can lead to leaks or other issues. Special care should be taken when accessing the roof, and regular inspections can help identify any damage caused by foot traffic.

Overall, while PVC roofing has its issues, many of these can be mitigated through proper installation, maintenance, and repair. Working with a qualified roofing contractor and choosing high-quality materials can help ensure the long-term performance and durability of a PVC roofing system.

Titan Applicators has been in business since 2015. We have extensive knowledge in the restoration of commercial flat roofing systems.

Contact us today to chat with one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members.

View all blog posts

Ready to get started on your next project?

Let the Titan Applicators team handle your spray foam insulation and coatings needs.

get your free quote