TPO Roofing vs. Modified Bitumen

Here’s How TPO and Modified Bitumen Compare

Business owners and property managers have a lot of factors to consider as they decide on the right roofing material for their commercial roof. While cost of installation is far from the only thing that matters, it’s typically the main thing on the minds of business owners. This means that many decision-makers wind up making the same comparison between two popular, affordable commercial roofing materials: TPO roofing vs. modified bitumen.

As the leading commercial roofing specialists in the Mid-Atlantic region, the Moser team has repaired, restored, and installed flat and low-slope commercial roofs constructed from both TPO and modified bitumen. Over the years, we’ve learned quite a bit about how these materials stack up against each other. If you’re faced with a decision of TPO roofing vs. modified bitumen for your roof, here are some key points to keep in mind.

What Are TPO and Modified Bitumen?

Let’s start with the basics: What are these materials? Well, both TPO and modified bitumen are highly popular commercial roofing materials commonly used in the construction of flat and low-slope roofs. 

Modified bitumen has a longer history, as it has been a staple of commercial roofing since the 1970s. It is a form of asphalt-based roofing that consists of a membrane composed of several layers that often include a rubber-based material, fabric or fiberglass, and asphalt. 

Like modified bitumen, TPO is also a form of single-ply roofing. This material is a rubber-like membrane made up of several layers of material, including flexible polymers and, typically, a polyester fabric in the middle.

The Advantages of Modified Bitumen

Modified bitumen began to see widespread usage for a few key reasons. To begin with, it’s straightforward to install—much more so than the built-up roofing systems it was designed to improve on. The ease of installation and ready availability of its fundamental materials also makes it quite affordable, as it typically costs less than TPO. Finally, modified bitumen is fairly waterproof, tear-resistant, and flexible, enabling it to survive shifts in temperature.

The Advantages of TPO Roofing

TPO roofing hasn’t been around for nearly as long as modified bitumen, as it was introduced to the roofing industry in the 1990s. However, TPO has rapidly grown in popularity since its introduction. As with modified bitumen, TPO roofing is very straightforward to install, and it can also often be installed directly over an existing roofing system. It is highly water resistant thanks to its heat-welded seams, and it also stands up well against chemicals like oil and grease. Finally, TPO roofing is a fairly green material, as it is fully recyclable and readily available in lighter colors that reflect heat and keep buildings cool more efficiently.

TPO Roofing vs. Modified Bitumen: Which Is Better?

Usually, the answer to “Which roofing material is better?” is simply “It depends.” And while that is the case here to a degree, TPO roofing is generally regarded as a better option than modified bitumen in most cases.

Many of the positive attributes of modified bitumen are also shared by TPO roofing: ease of installation, high water resistance, and flexibility, for instance. However, TPO roofing generally carries a longer lifespan (around 20 to 30 years, compared to 10 to 20 for modified bitumen). Additionally, TPO can typically be installed directly over existing roofs, while modified bitumen cannot. 

The chief advantage of modified bitumen is a slightly lower upfront cost. However, building owners will often find that TPO roofing carries a lower total cost over the life of the roof. In any case, it’s a good idea to consult with your commercial roofing partner before making a final decision.

Moser Roofing Solutions Can Help You Choose the Right Material!

While the “TPO roofing vs. modified bitumen” decision often swings in favor of TPO, there are plenty of situations where modified bitumen might make more sense. The bottom line is that for any major roofing decision, it’s important to have a commercial roofing expert in your corner that you can rely on.

Moser Roofing Solutions is your trusted partner for flat and low-slope commercial roofing services and expertise in the Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic region. We specialize in helping businesses get the most from their commercial roof—and that starts with picking the best material for the job. If you’re in need of a new commercial roof, but you have more questions than answers, contact Moser today!

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