Can TPO Be Used In South Florida for Flat Roofs

There is a non-local large roofer installing TPO roofs on 2000 square foot residential structures (flat) as part of hurican insurance repairs.

When we went to local roofers, they all recommended the modified build up system.

When asked why to or not use TPO, some said that it might not be appropriate in the warmer South Florida climate.

Can people comment on the tradeoffs of TPO versus the modified system. We are puzzled why there do not appear to be local roofers recommending the TPO system. Would it be a mistake to do a single membrane TPO system here (in South Florida) versus a modified build up.

When we got quotes the local roofers were all a little cheaper than the TPO guy, but we want a quality job as any leak can result in significant damage to the interiors of our units. We are a multi-unit condominium complex.

Thanks for your assistance in advance.

Where in “South Florida” are y’all located? Since you mention hurricane work, I’m going to guess you are still in recovery mode from Frances & Jeanne?

I’m in Central Texas, however I lived in Fort Lauderdale for 25+ years & have friends in the business who are based out of Western Broward county & I can ask them what the preferred method is for your area.

I would also suggest contacting the local building & zoning departments & try to talk to a building inspector. See what they say is the recommended product / system / process because in the end, they’ll have to approve whatever work is done.

A multi-building condo group will probably fall into the commercial to light commercial category & as such, there will probably be different group of required components or processes.

If we can get him to pop back in here, “Cerebrus” is a commercial waterproofing specialist & IMO the better resource for this BBS in regard to a situation such as yours.


The built up roof is a proven roof system. TPO’s are not a proven for longevity yet.

The built up roof should cost more as it is a better roof.

The TPO contractor must be a good salesman. He is from out of town and sold you on TPO’s as being a better roof.

TPO is way better than modified and will last much longer as will PVC"Sarnafil" or EPDM. Of course it takes a different breed of roofer who is trained. They are big in the Carrabean right now and have been used in Eroupe for a long time.

I did speak to the building department. Their official answer was that any roof that meets code was OK. When pressed, one of the building inspectors said that he “personally” preferred the modified, because it was multiple layers (more protection I guess).

Still it puzzles me as to why none of the local guys do the TPO system. I wonder if its just that the Modified is what they are used to doing (and what the inspector is used to inspecting) or whether there is some deeper reason. While not as proven, TPO has been around for over 10 years so I would thing there should be some history behind it by now.

The previous poster stated that TPO was better for durability - is there an expected lifespan of a TPO roof and if so what is it?

The TPO guy here is using a 45 mil layer. Is there a reason why the 60 mil layer is not being used instead? Since we have air conditioners on the roof, we are worried about contractors walking on the roof and damaging the TPO film. Will the 60 mil be better?


TPO has a proven record of failures.

TPO’s are used because they are the cheapest material for a flat roof. Not because they have a good history.

.045 mil is cheaper in any product.

Your gut tells you there is something wrong with TPO’s. Listen to your gut.

I have never done a TPO roof so all I can really add is that thicker is better.
Go with the 60 mil.

hello allen,
i have roofed in tampa bay/florida since i was a kid, and have installed many firestone and durolast and others.
if its a simple roof, under some shade trees, no traffic, im allrite with them, they will work,
for how long? who knows.

its a northern roof product that works better in the cold climates
but if your worried about your roof blowwing off in high winds or handling the heat, then i would not advise a tpo.

all i can say is this.
i walked up on a ten year old tpo one day that was rotted away blowing in the wind like an old tarp.
ever since than ive been against them.

just remember its like anything else you buy that is not a common thing, it will be harder to get fixed,
parts wont be as readilly available, etc.

good luck.


Can anyone comment on this difference in opinion. One roofer (as quoted below) says that TPO is much better and the other posters warn not to use TPO.

Does the choice depend on the skill level of the installer or the area of the country?

Thanks to all for your feedback to date.


How long is he saying the TPO will last? How long is he quarrantying the TPO?

Then ask to see a couple of his TPO installations that have been on roofs in your area that long.

Check out. You do need a competant installer though not just any roofer will do. … &keywords= … tage_r.htm


I am saying the same thing that the article is saying.

[quote]But TPO systems are newer products that do not have the performance history of some single-plies. Some manufacturers also say that TPO formulations continue to be tweaked to improve longevity and weathering.

“Ultimately, TPO formulation remains a balancing act between fire retardants in the formula and the stability of UV-light protection elements in the formula,â€Â[/quote]

I have not done commercial roofing for some time.
We always did EPDM, Torchdown, and BUR’s.
I have never heard anything good about TPO, I have heard plenty of bad…

my first tpo roof was installed on a 45 story bldg in chicago. still no problems.its a simple fact that 85% of most thermo plastic failures is installation deficeincies.i have probably installed tens of thousands of squares of tpo without a problem.a properly installed tpo roof in florida should be warrantied for 10 yrs.if it is installed correctly it should last at least 20.

Most of the high rise buildings in Boston are all thermoplastic single ply roofs as well. There is almost no BUR and Modified Bitumen being installed in the Boston area. Its been a single ply market for quite a while. You dont do commercial work in there though unless you have a union card.“if you know whats good for you that is”.

It sounds like the use of TPO versus modified is a regional thing. What I have heard from these posts is that (1) Its newer so less proven (2) Potentially lasts longer if not abused (3) Still evolving in formulation and will likely gain ground in the future over modified systems.

I still don’t understand why its so more prevelent in the North. Is it that much better at insulation against cold weather? Is it very beneficial for hot weather?

Thanks again in advance.

[quote=“alangoren”]It sounds like the use of TPO versus modified is a regional thing. What I have heard from these posts is that (1) Its newer so less proven (2) Potentially lasts longer if not abused (3) Still evolving in formulation and will likely gain ground in the future over modified systems.

I still don’t understand why its so more prevelent in the North. Is it that much better at insulation against cold weather? Is it very beneficial for hot weather?

Thanks again in advance.[/quote]

Single ply rubber has been around for quite some time,and has been used more on commercial jobs than residential.Sarnafil is the oldest single ply system I can remember,when I was certified in 1979 they claimed to have had roofs in switzerland over 20 years old.Most commercial companies don’t do residential.They usually get jobs with several hunderd squares Vs.5 or 10 square residential add-ons.

I normally use modified torch downs on residential flat roofs due to availability of materials,I haven’t done commercial roofing in several years,but I have done repairs and I can say that the quality of the workmanship has the biggest effect on the outcome of a rubber roof.

EPDM is more prevelent on residential flats up here.
PVC and TPO are more common on bigger jobs.

TPO single ply systems are the best solution to your roofing needs. They handle ponding water that mod bits don’t like. They are tough, durable roofs. They offer high reflectivity and emissivity needed for your climate area to help ensure that your building stays cool in the summer. Definitely use the 60 mil sheet on your roof. The cost for 60 mil is only pennies higher than the 45 mil and will give you a much longer lifespan. You might even consider 80 mil for very little more money.

Contrary to some posts, TPO roofs do not have a record of failures any more than mod bits or other roof products. The articles written about TPO are often done by people that do not have a history in single ply and are trying to keep the old built up systems alive. Nation wide, more commercial roofs are done with single ply than with any other type of roofing system. Make sure you use major manufacturers of TPO such as Carlisle or Firestone that have records of standing behind their products. Above all, use a roofer that knows how to install a single ply membrane and has a history of installations. Just because a roofer does mod bit,built up or shingles doesn’t qualify him to install single ply.

jus for the record; my first sarnafil roof installed in 1979 is still on the evanston ill police station.