The Durability of Vinyl Roofing Membranes
Around the world, and going back decades, billions of square feet of thermoplastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or vinyl, roofing are installed on buildings in diverse climates. It is a material that has proven performance to withstand thermal cycles, wind loads, structural movement and temperature extremes. Vinyl membranes are constructed of a flexible, tear- and water-resistant polymer reinforced with fiberglass non-woven mats or polyester woven scrims. These components ensure vinyl’s dimensional stability and capacity to respond to a building’s normal expansion and contraction process as well as challenges from the elements.
What makes vinyl so durable?
- Heat-welded seams – The heat-welded seams of thermoplastic vinyl form a permanent, watertight bond that is stronger than the membrane itself. This is a major advantage over roofing systems that rely on adhesives, tapes, and caulks to seal the seams.
- Does not support combustion – The vinyl polymer’s composition gives this material an inherent fire resistance not found in alternative materials without additives. Vinyl membranes are difficult to ignite, burn very slowly and do not support combustion, tending to self extinguish when the source of flame is removed. Vinyl roofs have passed both FM and UL fire testing, achieving unlimited slope approvals.
- Watertight membrane – Vinyl membranes have been used successfully in waterproofing applications for more than 30 years. They are manufactured to remain watertight in extreme conditions, including constant dampness, ponding water, high and low alkaline conditions and exposure to plant roots, fungi and bacteria.
- Meets or exceeds wind uplift requirements – Properly designed vinyl roofing can meet or exceed the wind uplift requirements needed to obtain FM approvals. Many in-service membranes have survived the onslaught of Category 3 hurricanes, and can be designed specifically for storm-prone climates.
References & News
- Predictive Service Life Tests for Roofing Membranes [145 KB]
- Field Investigation and Laboratory Testing of Exposed Poly (Vinyl Chloride) Roof Systems [350 KB]
- Vinyl Roofing Systems – High Performance Over A Long Life [29 KB]
- Is Your Roofing Material Cracking Under the Elements?
- Fire Testing of Membrane Roof Systems
Vinyl Durability News
Durability Research Finds Vinyl Roofing Ranks High Among Common Materials in Aging Comparisons
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Vinyl Roofing Systems: Questions Answered
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Meeting Roofing Needs – Vinyl Addresses a Range of Roofing Requirements
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Durability Case Studies
Carnegie Mellon Library
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