Frequently Asked Questions about PVC Roofing Systems: Part 1

In this seven-part series, we will address common questions about polyvinyl chloride – PVC.

Q: How long have PVC, or vinyl, roofs been around? Are they among the leading systems for commercial roofing?

A: Originally introduced in Europe in the early 1960s, PVC roofing systems were among the first single-ply commercial roofing materials. Today, reinforced PVC roofs – also called vinyl roofs – account for 65 percent of the European commercial roofing single-ply market, and North American growth has outpaced the commercial roofing industry as a whole for more than 10 years. In 1985, PVC roofing systems were the first single-ply roofing products to obtain a standard designation from the American Society for Testing and Materials (now ASTM International): ASTM D4434 – Standard Specification for Poly (vinyl chloride) Sheet Roofing – which is regularly updated. Today, PVC is an increasingly popular thermoplastic roofing membrane worldwide.

Q: What makes PVC roofs so special?

A: PVC roofing systems have witnessed tremendous growth in recent years due to a variety of standout characteristics, notably: longevity; durability in harsh weather and temperature extremes: low life-cycle costs; energy efficiency; heat and solar reflectance; flame resistance; chemical and grease resistance; ease of maintenance; ease of flexibility of installation; and inherent recyclability/re-use, among many other benefits. Often referred to as the first “cool roofing” system, PVC is energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable, long-lasting and cost-effective.

Q: How are PVC roofs energy-efficient?

A: Lots of ways! White PVC roofing systems not only reflect sunlight and solar energy to save building owners up to 40 percent in annual electricity costs, they also improve the performance of the underlying roof insulation by 25 to 50 percent; extend the useful life of the roof by as much as 75 percent; enable rooftop cooling equipment to run more efficiently; contribute to better indoor air quality and comfort; and collectively help mitigate the effects of urban heat islands and the air pollution they cause.

A comprehensive environmental profile of vinyl roofing systems can be downloaded from the website of the Chemical Fabrics and Film Association.