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The Top Five Benefits of EPDM Roofing Membranes

Firestone’s RubberGard™ EPDM roofing system has been used for both new build and refurbishment of flat roofs for nearly 30 years in the UK. Thanks to the unique features and benefits of EPDM, many of those early installations are still going strong and specifiers, contractors and installers can all gain advantages from using the system.

In this blog, we’ll outline the five key advantages of EPDM as a flat roofing material, demonstrating why our EPDM technology has not only stood the test of time but continues to gain fans and advocates both in the UK and around the world.

Size Matters

Roofs come in all different shapes and sizes and, whichever roofing system you choose, the roof needs to be covered as quickly as possible to make it weatherproof. Increasingly, there is also a business critical need to complete roofing projects on programme and to tight deadlines. Specification of an EPDM membrane like Firestone’s RubberGard EPDM system can help with all of that.

While bitumen-based felt roofing systems are usually supplied as 1m wide sheets and thermoplastic single-ply membranes can be supplied at widths of up to 2m, Firestone’s RubberGard EPDM membrane can be ordered in any width between 3m and 15m on a 30m roll. This is because the manufacturing process for EPDM enables larger scale sheets to be assembled during production, rather than being limited by the size of the extrusion line.

The range of available width allows the roofing contractor to select a width that offers the best solution for the size and layout of each individual roofing project. For example, for a project that involves re-covering the roof of a large industrial unit, a 15m wide EPDM membrane could offer an excellent solution for rapid coverage of a large surface area with minimal seams. Conversely, for a smaller roof, a narrower width would be more appropriate. This flexibility in the size of the membrane off the roll enables the project team, advised by our technical team, to select a size of membrane that will reduce the number of seams on the roof, which is the most time-consuming and critical element of any installation, and use the material in the most resource-efficient way.

Thanks to the choice and increased size of widths available when using EPDM membranes, the project can benefit from:

• Faster installation

• Faster weatherproofing

• Fewer seams

The Right Fix

Along with the varied choice of membrane size offered by EPDM roofing systems, specifiers and contractors also benefit from a variety of fixing systems. This ensures that EPDM provides greater design flexibility and is suitable for almost any substrate or roof build up.

The roofing options offered by the RubberGard EPDM roofing system include:

• Fully adhered system

• Mechanically fixed system

• Inverted roofs

• Ballasted roofs

• Green roofs

• Modular roofs

Adhesives are usually used with smaller widths of EPDM and Firestone has developed a water-based adhesive specifically for use in factory-based modular construction, which is also ideal for occupied buildings or any environment where odours may be an issue.

For mechanically-fixed roofs, which are always advised when using a larger width of EPDM, Firestone has developed a fixing system that does not penetrate the membrane, which avoids any vulnerability to leaks around the fixing system.

Fantastically Elastic

EPDM is a naturally elastic material, with over 300% elongation, even at extremes of temperature. What’s more, this elasticity is achieved without any chemical additives or plasticisers and is a permanent characteristic of the material. As a result, EPDM roofs are very resilient both at the time of installation and throughout their service life.

The elasticity of the EPDM roof means:

• It can flex to cope with any differential movement between building components

• There is no requirement for complex expansion joints (unless required by building regulations)

• It does not crack or split at very low temperatures nor soften and melt at high temperatures

• It can cope with temperature shock caused by rapid fluctuation between temperature extremes

• It’s ideal for modular construction units as it keeps them watertight during transit despite movement and temperature fluctuation

With an increasingly erratic climate, the U/V resistance and long-term elasticity offered by EPDM present compelling reasons to specify systems like RubberGard EPDM. Recent heatwaves and heavy downpours across Europe have evidenced just how resilient EPDM roofs are, while, in the USA, hailstones the size of golf balls have simply bounced off EPDM roofs, despite the rubber covering being just 1.5mm thick.

Environmentally Responsible

EPDM has been proven to have the lowest environmental impact of any flat roofing system; a fact that is increasingly important not only to building specifiers but to developers and occupiers too.

Featured in the Green Guide and contributing to a BREEAM summary A+ rating over an appropriate support , EPDM is an inert material, containing no plasticisers, heavy metals or chlorine which means there is no change in the material even when exposed for many years, and the extended service life significantly lowers the environmental impact, while helping to ensure the longevity of the building. At the end of the roof’s service life, the EPDM membrane is completely recyclable.

EPDM membranes are also practically odourless, and Firestone has also been working hard to ensure that the ancillary products used as part of the RubberGard EPDM system are similarly environmentally friendly, with no nuisance odours. This includes development of a water-based adhesive and low VOC primers.

Heat & Flame Free

Whether the RubberGard EPDM roofing system specified is fully-adhered, mechanically fixed, or ballasted, installation is totally heat and flame-free, with all joints formed using a self-adhesive splice tape. This provides a number of advantages for both the roofing contractor and the building owner/occupier, including:

• No fire risk

• Reduced fire-related insurance costs

• No fire safety wait times at the end of the working day

• No special tools required

• No permanent or temporary power source required

Avoiding the need for a generator or any cable routes to take electric power to hot welding equipment on site is a significant advantage for remote sites where this may be difficult. It is also a benefit when working close to residential areas as it avoids any nuisance noise from the generator.

Top Five and Counting

These are just our top five benefits of EPDM roofing membranes and there’s an array of additional features and benefits outlined on our website along with lots of reference projects where these benefits have been realised.