Roofing is a surprisingly diverse field that encompasses a wide range of building types as well as a large array of materials and installation processes. Membrane roofing is one type that has been specifically designed to minimize leaks and other problems associated with traditional roofing designs. Mainly used on flat or mostly flat roofs, membrane prevents leaks while also preventing water from pooling on the roof. Generally speaking, there are three types of membrane roofing: synthetic rubber, thermoplastic, or bitumen. Most commonly used in commercial applications, membrane roofing has recently even begun to replace traditional residential systems like asphalt.
Types of Membrane
Synthetic Rubber – Also known as Thermoset membrane roofing, synthetic rubber designs feature large, flat sections of synthetic rubber that are attached at the seams to form a single, continuous membrane. Synthetic rubber membrane roofs are usually between 0.75 and 1.5 millimetres thick. In order to seal the seams on a synthetic rubber roof, strips of rubber are laid with the seams overlapping; subsequently, the seams are heated causing the rubber to melt together. The particular type of rubber used allows a chemical bond to form at the seams so that the final sheet of rubber is as strong as the individual pieces so it is nearly leak proof.
Thermoplastic Membrane – Thermoplastic membrane are similar to synthetic rubber roofs, but they utilize PVC sheets rather than rubber. PVC sheets do not bond in the manner as the rubber sheets as they do not form a chemical bond when heated, but they do form a tight seal. Thermoplastic membrane sheets are generally bonded using heat or some kind of solvent and are less expensive than synthetic rubber membrane roofs, but they also generally require more maintenance.
Modified Bitumen – This final type of membrane is the cheapest and is commonly used in residential rather than commercial applications. Sometimes regarded as an evolution of asphalt roofing, modified bitumen membrane roofs feature traditional asphalt roofing compounds along with a variety of rubber compounds and other modifiers. This mixture is applied to the roof and then is heated with a torch so that it melts forming a sealed membrane protecting the roof. Some newer variations of modified bitumen roofs can actually be applied without heat; instead, manufacturers create asphalt and rubber treated sheets with a self-adhesive that can be laid on the roof.
Advantages of Membrane Roofing
There are distinct advantages to membrane roofing compared to asphalt and other traditional roofing systems. Membrane is either seamless or has seams as strong as the body of the roof making them considerably less likely to leak. IN addition, membrane roofing systems can be patched easily and breaks and leaks are less difficult to locate. Finally, membrane systems resist expansion and contraction while also being resistant to UV damage meaning they are more durable and longer lasting.