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Rubber Roofing, What’s the Difference?

One of the most difficult aspects of replacing your roof is sorting through the pros and cons of different roofing materials. There never seems to be an easy answer, and the right material can change based on your preferences and needs. You have a wide variety of options such as asphalt shingles, metal, clay, and cedar. Perhaps one of the most undervalued roofing materials is rubber roofing. Rubber roofing is a good choice for flat roofs or for people who are searching for a material that is more durable and longer-lasting than asphalt shingles. Here is our breakdown of rubber roofing including what it is, what types are available, and the benefits of this type of material. 

What Is Rubber Roofing? 

Rubber roofing is any roofing material that is made from plastic polymers or rubber materials. They are made from a combination of recycled materials. These materials include tires, slate dust, and sawdust. 

Rubber roofing can include rubber rolls or sheets that are used for flat roofs, or rubber shingles that can be used in place of asphalt shingles or other similar materials. The type of rubber roofing that you need will depend on your roof. 

What Are the Types of Rubber Roofing?

You will find four different types of rubber roofing on the market today. Each of them has pros and cons that may affect your decision to choose it for your roof. Here is a quick summary of each type. 


EPDM, or Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer, is a well established type of single-ply rubber sheeting that can be used on everything from flat roofs to sloped roofs as an added layer of weather protection. This type of roof is long-lasting and easy to install. Homeowners should always be careful because this type of material can be prone to shrinkage if it isn’t installed properly by an experienced roofer. The black color can also be a con in some warmer areas of the country.


Less is known about TPO (or Thermoplastic Polyolefin) roofing. While the cost is lower and it comes in different color options, not a lot is known about the longevity of this type of material and not all roofers can install it. 


Like TPO, PVC (or polyvinyl chloride) comes in different color options. It’s recyclable and lasts for 20-30 years. There are environmental concerns with this type of material, but it may still be a good choice for some because of how well it performs in wind, rain, hail, and fire. 

Rubber Shingles

Rubber shingles can be made to look nearly identical to wood, asphalt, or slate, but they are made from the same recycled materials as EPDM. They are more expensive than asphalt shingles, but are comparable in price to other materials such as metal. 

What Are the Benefits of Rubber Roofing? 

When put alongside other materials, rubber roofing performs extremely well. It can be the perfect choice if you are looking to invest in something that lasts longer than asphalt shingles and that will hold up against a lot of the harsh weather that we see in the Greensboro and Durham areas. Here are some of the benefits of rubber roofing.

Longer Lifespan

While asphalt shingles have a lifespan of around 15-20 years, EPDM and rubber shingles have a much longer expected lifespan. Both can be expected to last up to 50 years. They are also easy to maintain and fix.

Fire Resistant

If you are looking for a material that is fire resistant, rubber is a much more economical option. Other fire resistant materials such as slate and stone are much more expensive, heavy, and difficult to install. But rubber provides the same protection while also being lighter and much easier to install. 

Water Resistant

EPDM is a great option for flat roofs because they won’t leak when installed correctly. Because the material is rolled out onto the roof, there are fewer seams and places for the water to sneak through. 

Hail and Impact Resistant

Of all of the roofing materials, rubber roofing might hold up best when it comes to hail and other impacts. While hail will dent or damage materials such as asphalt shingles, metal, or slate, the hail will bounce off of rubber without leaving a mark.

More Durable 

Some roofing materials can wear out quickly under extreme conditions such as hot and cold weather. However, rubber holds up well under UV light, hot temperatures, and cold temperatures. You won’t see a lot of cracking or breaking down under normal weather conditions.


Since rubber roofs are made from recycled materials, they are one of the most eco-friendly products on the market. They help take tires out of landfills by putting the material to another use. If you are looking for ways to positively impact the environment while replacing your roof, rubber roofing may be a good option. 

Easy Installation

EPDM roofs are easy to install. The project is usually done within one day. Rubber shingles are also easy to install since the process is very similar to asphalt shingles. As with any type of roofing, it’s important to have a trusted roofer do the work to guarantee a quality roof that won’t leak or break down in the first heavy storm. 


Slate can look beautiful but can often be too heavy of a material for certain homes. Rubber is a good alternative because it’s equally as attractive but is also extremely lightweight. It is easy for roofers to handle and can be easily cut to size. 


Rubber roofing is perfect for buildings that are shaped in a way that make it difficult to install any other type of roofing. Rubber roofing is flexible and can fit anywhere that you need it to go. 

What Is the Installation Process for EPDM roofs?

Having an EPDM roof installed is a fast and simple process. The material will come in a roll which will be cut to size to fit the roof. After cutting the rubber roofing to the perfect size and cleaning off the roof, the rubber roofing is attached to the roof using adhesive. The material will be sealed to the roof and then the job will be done. 

Some homeowners choose to install rubber roofing over the top of the existing roofing, whether asphalt or metal. This can help the current roof to last longer and can save money that would have been spent on a roof replacement.  

The Importance of a Correct Installation

With any roofing material, including rubber roofing, the emphasis should always be placed on the installation. Even the most expensive, high-quality product won’t be able to keep out the rain and hold up against wind if it isn’t properly installed. That’s why it’s so important to make sure to choose a roofing contractor that has experience in installing the type of roof that you have chosen for your home. Whether you choose to go the affordable route and put asphalt shingles on your roof, or you want to purchase something that is longer lasting, make sure to invest in a quality company. 

Quality Roof Installation at Carolina Home Specialists

At Carolina Home Specialists, we love working with quality products that offer long-lasting protection for homes in Durham, Greensboro, and the surrounding areas. Our emphasis is on quality installations that stand up against North Carolina weather. If you are interested in learning more about rubber roofing and whether it is a good choice for your home, give us a call. 

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Rubber Roofing, What’s the Difference?

Carolina Home Specialists is a premier exterior home improvement service company serving the Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Chapel Hill communities in North Carolina. We also serve many surrounding communities.

If you’re in the Triad area and need a design consultant, please consider reaching out to our local roofing, windows, siding, gutters, decking, and fencing installation specialists. We’d love to help!

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