PVC Roofing: Useful Information Guide

By Roof Online Staff • Last updated January 27, 2023

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Installation of PVC roofing in progress.
Installation of a PVC roof in progress.

Pictures of PVC Roofing

PVC Roofing Overview

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) roofing is a type of flat roofing system that is widely used in commercial and industrial building construction. PVC is a thermoplastic material that is made from polyvinyl chloride resin, which makes it highly resistant to UV rays, chemicals, and extreme temperatures.

One of the key benefits of PVC roofing is its durability and longevity. PVC roofs can last for decades with proper maintenance, and they are relatively resistant to punctures, tears, and other forms of damage. Additionally, PVC roofing is highly reflective, which can help to reduce energy costs by reflecting sunlight and reducing the amount of heat absorbed by the building.

Another advantage of PVC roofing is that it has a high resistance to fire, making it a safer option in case of fire outbreak. Additionally, PVC roofing is relatively easy to install and repair, making it a cost-effective option for many commercial and industrial buildings.

PVC roofing is typically available in white, gray and tan colors, it is also available in a variety of thicknesses to accommodate different roofing needs. It’s also lightweight, making it easy to transport, handle and install.

However, PVC roofing has some disadvantages as well. PVC roofing is more expensive than some other flat roofing options, such as EPDM or TPO. Additionally, PVC roof systems can be difficult for untrained personnel to properly repair if they get damaged, and they require specialized training and equipment to properly install.

Overall, PVC roofing is a highly durable and energy-efficient roofing option that is well-suited to flat or low-sloped roofs on commercial and industrial buildings.

Heat-welding a field seam during the installation of a PVC roof membrane.
Heat-welding a field seam with a “robot” heat welder during the installation of a PVC roof membrane.

Pros and Cons of PVC Roofing

Pros of PVC roofing include:

  1. Durability: PVC roofing systems are relatively resistant to punctures, tears, and other forms of damage, making them a long-lasting option.
  2. Reflectivity: PVC roofing is highly reflective, which can help to reduce energy costs by reflecting sunlight and reducing the amount of heat absorbed by the building.
  3. Fire resistance: PVC roofing has a very high level of fire resistance compared to other low-slope roofing materials.
  4. Easy installation and repair: PVC roofing is relatively easy for trained roofers to install and repair, making it a cost-effective option for many commercial and industrial buildings.
  5. Weather resistance: PVC roofing is resistant to UV rays, chemicals, and extreme temperatures, making it a suitable option for different climates.

Cons of PVC roofing include:

  1. Cost: PVC roofing is more expensive than some other flat roofing options, such as EPDM or TPO.
  2. Specialized equipment: PVC roofing systems require specialized training and equipment to properly install and repair.
  3. Limited color options: PVC roofing is typically only available off-the-shelf (so to speak) in white, gray and tan, which might not be suitable for all building designs.
  4. Chemical resistance: PVC roofing can be sensitive to certain chemicals and may degrade if exposed to them over time.
  5. Compatibility: PVC roofing is not suitable for all types of buildings and structures, and it may not be compatible with certain types of insulation or ventilation systems.

It’s a good idea to consult with a professional roof consultant to determine if PVC roofing is the best choice for your particular building and roofing needs.

1. General: See this in-depth general article about various roof systems on the Whole Building Design Guide site, which is maintained by the National Institute of Building Sciences.

2. Building Codes: “R905.13 Thermoplastic Single-Ply Roofing” from the 2018 International Residential Code and “1507.13 Thermoplastic Single-Ply Roofing” from the 2018 International Building Code. Both available on the UpCodes website.

3. Chemical Compatibility of PVC: Take a look at this list of chemicals/substances and whether you can expect them to damage PVC. Chart is made available by GAF

4. Safety: See this material safety data sheet for health and safety information about PVC roofing at the GAF website. This is only an example and other products and brands may be different.

5. Technical: See this PVC roof installation guide to see what’s going on in a typical PVC roof system. This guide is available at the Johns Manville website.

6. Technical: See this product data sheet for the technical characteristics of PVC roofing at the Johns Manville website. This is only an example and other products and brands may be different.