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A Beginner's Guide to EPDM Rubber Roofing


13th April 2018

EPDM rubber roofing has firmly established itself as one of the most popular options for flat roofing of all sizes. The benefits it provides and its cost-effectiveness over a long-term period have seen it become the flat roofing system of choice for many property owners.

If you have no experience with the material and want to find out more about what it can do for your flat roof, read our EPDM rubber roofing guide and we’ll run through the what you need to know to get started.

What is EPDM Rubber Roofing?

EPDM is one of the most durable forms of roofing systems used for flat roof surfaces. It's also used as a weatherproofing solution. Ethylene and propylene are its two main ingredients which are sourced from natural gas and oil.

EPDM Rubber Roofing - Roof Stores
EPDM Rubber Roofing

The material itself is available in either black or white and comes in a variety of widths, depending on the requirements needed for the installation. EPDM can be installed in three ways:

  • Fully Adhered
  • Ballasted
  • Mechanically Attached.

Either liquid adhesives or special roofing tape is used to seal the seams of the roofing system.

How to Install Rubber Roofing

There are four key stages involved in installing an EPDM rubber roof which, when followed will ensure a smooth a fault-free finish on top of your decking.

EPDM Step by Step

  1. Clean the Roof: Although this seems like an obvious first step, it’s important to ensure that it's done thoroughly. This is to prevent lumps or areas that are not able to bond with the adhesive once the material has been laid. Remove any debris that may already be on the roof (leaves, old shingles etc). If there are any gaps in the roof, fill these in with wood strips. The rubber material will not hold to any gaps more than a quarter of an inch in size.
  2. Position the EPDM Membrane: The material can now be rolled out and laid into the required position across the surface of the roof. Leave the material for the next 20-30 minutes to let any folds or creases fall out. Next, locate the bottom half of the rubber strip on top of the higher section, before sweeping a broom over the exposed rubber to ensure it's completely smooth and flat.
  3. Trimming the Material: While the main trimming will happen closer to the end of the job, it's likely you will have to remove excess parts of the membrane that are making it difficult to work with. This takes a steady hand to prevent going off course and removing more than is needed.
  4. Apply the Adhesive: A water-based adhesive must be applied to the decking once one half of the membrane has been pulled back. Keep the glue no more than 150mm to the edges of the roof where the contact adhesive will later be applied. For the edges and any details on the roof, a stronger contact adhesive enables you to stick the membrane down into corners and other complex areas of the surface.

Always consult with a professional roofer before embarking on a DIY flat roofing project such as installing EPDM.

How to Maintain EPDM Rubber Roofing

While rubberised roofing is extremely durable and damage resistant, over time it will require cleaning and occasional repairs. Protecting the material is a relatively straightforward process that will ensure you get the most out of the system.

Cleaning the rubber will help to maintain the strength of the surface. Ensuring that a cleaning procedure is in place will ensure it remains resistant to potential heat cracks.

Rubber Roofing System - Roof Stores
Rubber Roofing System

Any debris on the roof such as leaves or stones need to be swept away and gutters must be cleared. For any stubborn dirt such as moss or algae, a combination of warm water and dishwashing soap should suffice.

As is the case with the maintenance of any roof, prevention is always better than the cure. Inspecting and cleaning the roof at least 2-4 times a year will enable you to keep on top anything that requires attention. The sooner any damage is spotted, the faster it can be repaired without running up unnecessarily high bills.

EPDM Rubber Roof vs. Roofing Felt

EPDM rubber and torch-on felt roofing systems are the most commonly used materials for residential homes in the UK. If you're still considering your options as to which one to use on your flat roof, here's a short overview comparing the two materials.

Key Factors

  • Durability: EPDM is a far more durable material in comparison to felt and can withstand the more extreme scales of weather across the year. Felt is more susceptible to blistering in hot climates and cracking in the cold. EPDM will not experience these same issues. Rubber roofing is also far more flexible which reduces the risk of leaks and is extremely easy to repair.
  • Cost: Felt membranes are a cheaper alternative to EPDM, however, the difference in performance levels mean that rubber membranes offer much better value for money. This means EPDM is more cost-effective in the long run, despite the initial higher costs of purchasing the material.
  • Installation: Even for the keenest of DIY fanatics, installing torch-on felt roofing is not a practical option due to the gas torch and bitumen boiler required. Trained professionals are qualified to take on this sort of job because of the risks involved. This will also add to the price. On the other hand, EPDM membranes are applied cold. They use an adhesive solution which is not only safe but time efficient. Professional companies are still the best option for this. However, it can be laid down by homeowners, if not to the same high standard.
  • Appearance: Felt roofing has a variety of colours available, compared to black and white rubber membranes. However, this must be tempered with the fact that felt’s lack of durability can lead to an unpleasant aesthetic. Felt also doesn’t react well to the growth of algae or moss. The opposite is true of EPDM.

There are pros and cons to both materials. It's crucial that you take the time weigh up your options thoroughly before making a choice that could affect your home or commercial property.

The Lifespan of Rubber Roofing

How often you perform checks and maintenance your EPDM roof will play a large role in how long it lasts. It's also important to find a reputable company with the required experience and skill to complete the job satisfactorily.

In most cases, rubber roofing systems will come with a 15 to 20-year guarantee. However, if it's properly installed and not exposed to excessive levels of foot traffic, it can last 30+ years.

How Much Does EPDM Rubber Roofing Cost?

The most up to date pricing for our products is available by following the links in the section below.

Although EPDM rubber roofing systems can be a little more expensive than its alternatives, the return on your investment is significantly higher. The cost for professional installation will depend on the total square footage of the job. The complexity of the roof itself will also factor in. Smaller, straightforward jobs can be completed quickly and easily at a more affordable rate. Larger, bespoke projects will be reflected in the cost.

Fix-R EPDM Membrane - Roof Stores
Fix-R EPDM Membrane

As a rough guideline, we would estimate that a professional company would charge between £60-£80 per square metre. This is not factoring in the VAT, labour costs, disposal and any scaffolding required to complete the job.

If you have the experience to install the rubber membrane yourself or wish to purchase the materials for someone else to install, it helps to know the costs involved. A high-quality membrane is essential and Fix-R EPDM Membrane provides just that.

You’ll also need an adhesive, which Fix-R EPDM Water Based Acrylic Deck Adhesive offers the perfect solution for. Fix-R EPDM Bonding Adhesive is ideal to use around the edges of the roof, or in more complex areas where bonding may prove to be an issue.


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