EPDM Roof with "bubbles"

Just bought a house over the winter in Toledo, OH, and recently discovered major damage to the flat rolled asphalt roof of our 10’x13’ screened in side porch (the sellers claimed to have had no problem; we were in Arizona and couldn’t verify, and inspector missed it).

I just had an EPDM replacement roof installed, and was generally pleased with the reconstruction work performed (down to the fascia and sill plate in one corner), though they used MDF instead of the original 1x6 deck material.

For the roof material, they used some form of black underlayment with large circular fasteners, and the EPDM on top, connected to a term bar to the wall and drip edge all around.

Here’s the worst damage:


And here is the final installed roof, snapped this evening. I’m in the process of re-painting the decorative railing, no comment please ;):


Two things concern me: the “bubbles” where the rubber clearly isn’t held down to the black underlayment, and an extra “edge” of EPDM material all the way around. Here’s a shot of the corner:


This edge piece is “glued” down around its boundary with black sealant of some kind (the same stuff that’s use above the term bar at the wall). This wasn’t what I had discussed, which was a single solid sheet of EPDM. I’m concerned they ran out of room, and tacked on this piece. The sealant also presents a nice place to slow the flow of water.

Is it possible they have used a solid sheet with an extra strip on top of it at the edge? Are bubbles like this to be expected (e.g. giving the rubber some room to contract)? Before I ask them about it, I wanted to get some information.

I’m also somewhat concerned about the (very heavy) decorative iron railing. They intended to find some metal feet to spread the load, but in the end, just added a double layer of extra rubber underneath. This railing had punched through the old roof, which is what alerted me to the problem.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Get a closer look at the pipe flashing detail. In the one photo, it looks very wrong.

The sealant used on the edge of the termination bar should not be the same as the bonding adhesive and lap sealant at the edge of the spliced piece.

This looks like it was “Supposed” to be a fully adhered application, but that is obvious that it is not. There should be no bubbles in the system

It looks bad.


Looks like they put the sheet in wet glue or had puddles that were not flashed off before they rolled it in. needs to be dry and taky and then broomed in.
In short rubber is the best or worst roof depending on who installs it.

That’s one of the worst installations I’ve seen(top ten for sure)Is this a reputable roofing company?I would call them asap and express your concerns.Sorry about your misfortune

the bubbles may be a result of not allowing the bonding adhesive to dry, tack up properly before they installed the epdm sheet.the bubbles will not cause leaks but IMO it looks nasty. the outside perimeter seems to be stripped with cover strip, but it looks as though it’s in from the metal drip an inch or so.

just dont like rubber on the roof.
tear it off, and put some tar and fiberglass up there.
they do alot better holding up to mother nature.


Epdm is a fine roof and will outlast any asphalt system especially if its one sheet.
The edge detail is correct but not installed with good workmanship and will leak sooner than later.
The glue was wet when they put the sheet in and it will never stick in those ares now. These areas can grow when its windy and mice/squirrels love to chew at the bubbles and wrinkles. I guess they think theres a nut under there. Plus its just ugly.
The railings need feet anchored to the deck and then field wrapping on the legs. I’m not sure this guy can do it though. A small walk pad under each leg would probably work. Although that wont keep a 300# drunk guy from pulling a superman.
Id have to question the details we cant see also like the term bar, corners and lap sealant.

You hired someone who is incompetent. That roof needs to come back off, it’s a joke. Sorry that happened to you.

Thanks to those who replied with specifics. Unfortunately, statements like “it’s a joke” don’t help me evaluate my situation, or formulate an informed response to the roofers. This company was selected on reputation and the recommendation of a neighbor with extensive flat rubber roofs over 25 years old.

Here is detail of the corner of the term bar, and the “cover strip”. On second look they seem to be sealed with different sealant:


The strip does indeed go all the way to the drip edge. Is this the standard method for installing such a cover strip? What is its purpose?

Here’s some more detail of the strip:


and another:

I’m trying to evaluate the following:

  1. Clearly this isn’t the intended look, as we had discussed full adherence. Are bubbles cosmetic issues only, or will they grow and spread with wind action (this faces the SW, so wind is an issue)?

  2. Is the rest of the work consistent with best practices for EPDM?

  3. What is an appropriate response for the roofers? Can the rubber be torn off, leaving the underlayment, and a new piece installed without bubbles?

Thanks again for your help.

The bubbles can be cut out and patched but then your one piece roof just got a bunch of seams in it. Either way its not real good. I don’t want to say tear it off but did you pay for a loose bubbled roof or a nice tight one?
The edge strip should have been set in primer and I don’t see any evidence of it. There should be shiny black primer extending beyond the 5" strip on the rubber. Also the edge strip is full of fishmouths some caused by the wrinkled epdm and some I don’t know maybe because of no primer.
The term bar looks ok but if you don’t know what underneath like water block behind the bar and perimeter strip with 2" plates at the base of the wall I cant be sure.
Id have him add a 9" peel and stick in primer over the edge detail and recaulk it and feather the caulk. Then if it is one sheet of epdm add epdm walk pads set in primer over the entire roof. This will hide and protect the bubbles and help hold it down if it does loosen up. Plus if your going to walk on this roof you need them anyway. For him its better than tearing it off I would think.

You hired someone who is incompetent. That roof needs to come back off, it’s a joke. Sorry that happened to you.”

Sorry but I didn’t see the need for specifics when your project has zero redeeming qualitys. The bubbling is so extensive on your field sheet that anything else is irrelevant at this point. The application was done by someone who had probably seen EPDM done a couple times but was never trained, read specs or been to a training seminar. The termination bar looks ok at first glance, just sloppy lap sealant all over the place. It also doesn’t appear that any of the edges are cut in with primer as Borna stated. The edges of the flashing rubber should be rounded not square and I have no idea what the hell is going on with that railing detail but it’s wrong…

So instead of wasting 5mins typing all that I wrote, “You hired someone who is incompetent. That roof needs to come back off…” Which is the bottom line. You can’t repair that IMO, it’s wrong from start to finish and needs to be removed.

Looks like there first rubber roof install. the term bar is on crooked, its a bad and ugly detail anyway. We never use term bar and prefer to cut a reglet in the brick joint and install metal counterflashing. everything looks bubbled most likley due to the glue being too wet. You really need a trained crew with single ply roofs.

That roof is applied completely wrong, too much too list, most already has been.
They may not have let the EPDM relax long enough, or tried a cold weather installation.
The details are terrible, all of them.

You should be able to fasten the railings to the deck then flash them, this is done after they remove that poor excuse of a roof.
The way the railings are now, they will punch a significant hole in the roof.

I agree 110%, I too am sorry this happened to you.

Your roof should look similar to this.

Do you think your rubber roof needs to be removed and redone?

There is a member of this site in your area, I am sure they will do a much better job than that for you.

There is no member list I see…
I can’t remember his name, perhaps someone else here does.

The only one I know from Ohio for sure, is Dennis of Roofers Review.


Not Dennis, he is on the east side of the state.
But if he will go that far I would go with him.
Maybe it was someone from NRG?

uh mr smith.
monkey only try to help.
im sure he didnt mean it as a joke joke.
but more like A FREAKIN JOOOOOOKE.

i aint rite sometimes.

so basically you dont want the same guys
redoin, unless they have some kind of
3rd party supervisor.

roofing companys go through alot of
employees, so its possible a good company
had some new employees.

usually a good company will see your mess
and redo appropriatelly,
be patient.
dont get upset with them.


Ever heard the saying

“If you don’t have anything good to say?”

…nuff said…

**Ever heard the saying

“If you don’t have anything good to say?”

…nuff said…**

Practice what you preach.

Thanks everyone. A bit of dark area showed up around the edge piece, probably primer. Can anyone comment or share a picture on how that sealant around that edge piece should look? It seems to me a thick “ridge” of sealant like that is just asking for trouble, acting as a water dam.