EPDM and modified bitumen roofing systems are often compared side by side. These two commercial systems are the primary choice for flat roofs. As a property owner in Toronto ON, surely, you’d be confused as to what to install. Will you go for an EPDM or modified bitumen roof?

To help you make the best decision, Cox Roofing Systems will be focusing one essential aspect of a roof that everyone cares about — the lifespan.

So today, let’s take a closer look at EPDM vs modified bitumen roof life expectancy. Which roofing system lasts longer? In addition to tackling their service lives, we’ll also enumerate their pros and cons.

Read on.

What Is EPDM Roofing and How Long Does It Last?

aerial view of building with black epdm and contractor

The average service life of an EPDM roof reaches 50 years. Impressive, right?

If this is the first time you’ve heard about EPDM, it’s a rubber membrane roof that stands for ethylene propylene diene monomer. As a common material in the commercial roofing industry, EPDM membrane roof lifespan reaches 50 years. It has existed for more than half a century.

Here are some more interesting facts about EPDM roofing:

  • This rubber roofing membrane comes in two colors — black and white.
  • The automotive industry is known to be the largest market for EPDM aside from roofing.
  • It’s proven to resist weathering and other effects of environmental agents.
  • In the past, asphalt was the preferred roofing material. EPDM replaced asphalt when it was introduced.
  • Because EPDM roofs are installed in one piece, they rarely leak.

What is Modified Bitumen Roofing and How Long Does It Last?

blow torch on black membrane

Modified bitumen is also called “torch down roofing.” It lasts anywhere from 10-15 years.

Modified bitumen happens to be the older flat roof material. Often, you’ll hear people use the term “Torch-down roofing.” Modified bitumen consists of asphalt and filler ingredients. This combination gives it a rubber-like characteristic. Before modified bitumen existed, heavy built-up roofs were the dominant choice. The average lifespan of a bitumen roof is 10-15 years.

Below are some more facts about modified bitumen roofing:

  • Contractors install modified bitumen to your building using a blow torch. As you can expect, the installation method presents a risk as flames are present.
  • Flashing around penetrations like HVAC and vents can be done using modified bitumen.
  • Black is the standard color for modified bitumen.

Pros and Cons of EPDM Roofing

A. Pros

1. Long lifespan (reaches 50 years)

When it comes to the service life, EPDM is the clear winner. We mentioned earlier that it lasts up to 50 years. Elastomers of EPDM resist aging and many elements such as water, UV radiation, and ozone attack. So if you want a long-lasting roof, you’d make EPDM your primary choice.

2. Cost-effective

If you compare EPDM with modified bitumen, EPDM costs a bit more by one dollar. However, EPDM still belongs to our list of affordable Toronto ON commercial roofs. Installation per square foot costs $4. On the other hand, the modified bitumen flat roof cost is around #3 per square foot.

3. Fast and simple installation process

Unlike modified bitumen, contractors don’t use flames or electricity to apply an EPDM roof. This shortens the installation time. Contractors install EPDM roofs either by using water based adhesives or securing the membrane mechanically. As a business owner, you won’t have to worry about long interruption to your daily operations.

4. Available coatings to extend the service life

Another reason EPDM exceeds modified bitumen roof life expectancy is the availability of coatings. Yes, you may use a roof coating system for an existing EPDM roof.

These coatings increase EPDM roofing lifespan by waterproofing it and increasing its ability to reflect sunlight. Ideally, coatings are re-applied every 10 years. Look for a roofing contractor that specializes in EPDM roof coatings. 

Interesting Read: Why EPDM Roofing System Is a Friend to Every Small Business

B. Cons

1. Damaged by foot traffic and fallen objects

Membrane roofs like EPDM sustain punctures by anything. Excessive foot traffic is one. That said, you need to limit access to your EPDM roof to only qualified personnel and stick with a maintenance schedule.

Since storms can blow large branches to your EPDM roof, have overhanging branches trimmed if there are trees nearby. Also, choose a thicker EPDM membrane for maximum durability.

Pros and Cons of Modified Bitumen

A. Pros

1. Withstands heavy traffic

Its ability to stay strong despite heavy traffic is one reason why you’ll choose modified bitumen. If you have a parapet roof that your employees frequently access for work breaks or maintenance, modified bitumen won’t break easily.

2. Cheaper than EPDM roofing

While EPDM is an affordable material, modified bitumen is even cheaper. You spend $3 per square foot for installation. It is because of this lower cost that building owners use it over other flat roof systems.

B. Cons

1. Shorter life expectancy

The reality is that modified bitumen roof life expectancy is way shorter than that of EPDM. To maximize built up roof life expectancy, make sure to adhere the overlapping joints properly. Doing this reduces the chances for leaks to happen.

2. Safety concerns

Roofers apply modified bitumen using a torch. It’s essential that you hire a roofer that’s experienced. If not, he might accidentally damage the subsurface. It’s also no secret that torch down roofing projects cause fires if care isn’t taken. No business owner wants any accidents or disasters during his roofing project.

Always Hire a Qualified Roofing Company

two men shaking hands

Avoid a bad roofing job by hiring a licensed and insured Toronto ON commercial contractor.

We’re done comparing EPDM and modified bitumen roof life expectancy. In terms of lifespan, property owners would opt for EPDM. Surely you would, now that you know that it lasts up to 50 years. We also discussed the pros and cons of these two popular materials.

If you ask us what we recommend, that would be EPDM.

No matter what you choose, what’s most important is that you hire the right roofing company. A qualified company will get you a durable material and will install it using the best practices.

Read More: Do’s and Don’ts When Hiring a Commercial Roofing Contractor

Here at Cox Roofing Systems, we install EPDM roofing. We use Firestone, the best EPDM membrane manufacturer. Let us share with you more about our EPDM installation service. If you’re interested in other commercial roofing services, we’d also love to discuss with you. Call us at at 877-264-6983.