TPO versus PVC single ply's Thermoplastic membranes

Material and system description

Thermoplastic membranes are distinguished from thermoset materials in that there is no chemical crosslinking. These membranes can be softened by heating or hardened when cooled. Because of the materials' chemical nature, thermoplastic membranes are seamed together by heat welding with hot air tools or solvent welding.

The most common thermoplastic roof membranes are PVC and TPO. The following provides general descriptions of these two systems.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC sheets are produced by cross weaving, spread coating or extruding. These sheets are typically reinforced with polyester or glass-fiber mats or scrim. PVC sheets contain plasticizers and stabilizers, as well as other additives to provide flexibility and achieve other desired physical properties to better form to the substrate. Some membranes are available with nonwoven fleece backing adhered to the underside of a sheet.

  • Sheet widths range vary from 6 feet to 12 feet wide. Some sheets can be custom ordered depending on the manufacture.
  • Sheets are typically 45 mils to 90 mils thick. Thickness will vary with the manufacture.
  • PVC membranes are produced in various colors, however white is the most common due to the energy efficient qualities.
  • Seams are sealed by heat welding.

Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO)

TPO membranes are produced by calendering with lamination, extrusion with lamination, or extrusion-coating techniques. TPO sheets are a blend of polypropylene and ethylene propylene polymers and usually are reinforced with polyester. TPO sheets contain colorant, flame retardants, UV absorbers and other proprietary substances to achieve desired physical properties.

  • Sheet widths range from 6 feet to 12 feet wide depending on the manufacture
  • Sheets are typically 40 mils to 100 mils thick depending on the manufacture
  • Seams are sealed by heat welding with hot air tools.

TPO membranes commonly are white due to the energy efficient qualities.

PVC and TPO roof membranes can be installed fully adhered or mechanically attached.


When purchasing a new roof system, there will be two warranties to consider. First, there will be the manufacturer's warranty. In general, these warranties cover defects in the manufacture of the roof membrane. Once the project is complete, be sure the contractor provides you with a certificate for your records.

Second, the roofing contractor will provide you with a warranty covering his workmanship. Typically, this will cover installation and related issues. The warranty should contain what items are covered and what will void them. Many contractors offer one year or two years of coverage; however, there is no industry standard.

At Energy Roofing Solutions, all of our single ply systems will come with a Manufacture's full systems warranty. This will provide a 15year material and labor warranty backed by the Manufacture.

Below are documents providing examples of TPO and PVC