What is PVC or Vinyl Flat Roofing?
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) roofing is also known as vinyl roofing. It is much the same as those hard pipes, but with additional plasticizers to make the material flexible. It is considered to be one of the longest lasting flat roof coverings out there, is lightweight and virtually leak-proof when properly installed.
Advantages and Disadvantages of PVC or Vinyl Flat Roofing
A huge advantage of PVC flat roofing is that it is heat-welded at the seams. This means that the seams will rarely come apart, like taped or glued seams will. This is important since the main source of leaks comes from the seams and the flashings on your roof. This also means that PVC flat roofing is a good choice for a rooftop garden, as the likelihood of leakage is greatly reduced.
One advantage PVC flat roofing has over a rubber flat roof is that it primarily comes in white (although many other colors are available.) White has the highest solar reflectivity of any roofing color, and therefore is a good choice if your home is a candidate for cool roofing. Rubber roofing primarily comes in black, but can be laminated with an additional layer consisting mainly of titanium dioxide. However, titanium dioxide is not as durable as the rubber roofing below it, and will often chip away before the warranty of your flat roof is up. White PVC roofing does not pose this problem.
A vinyl flat roof is a great choice for a rooftop garden (like this one in Chicago) due to its heat-welded seams. | @ iStockphoto.com / dosecreative
The main disadvantage of a vinyl flat roof is that it is completely incompatible with asphalt products. When these two products meet, both are negatively affected. The vinyl roof will discolor, become stiff and age prematurely. The asphalt will begin to soften and bleed. Before installing a PVC roof, you must either completely remove all asphalt-based products on your roof deck, or install a separator sheet before installing the membrane.
PVC vs Rubber Roofing: Nature vs Nuture
Ask two roofers, “Which is better, rubber or vinyl?” and you will likely get in the middle of an embroiled argument. Each type of flat roofing has its benefits and drawbacks. The only thing they will likely agree on is that a roof is just as good as its installer. Make sure you do your research, and hire a roofer who is specialized in flat roofing.