What is Single Ply Roofing?

Single ply roofing has become an increasingly popular flat roof covering over the last few years. Essentially, a single ply membrane roof is comprised of flexible sheets of synthetic polymer that can be divided into two main groups, thermoplastics and synthetic rubber. Due to the fact that thermoplastics can be re-heated and re-molded, they have become the number one option for many industrial roofing contractors undertaking flat roof installations.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is recognised as a thermoplastic membrane and has been used as a single ply membrane roofing material across Europe since the sixties. From the largest of factory rooftops to much smaller garage roofs and bay windows, it can be easily used in a variety of situations and environments.

The Benefits of Single Ply Roofing

Regardless of the type of roofing material that you’re considering to use, there are many universal benefits in choosing a single ply membrane roof. These include:

  • Resistant to UV & Natural Elements

A fundamental requirement for any roofing material is the assurance that it’s resistant to damaging ultraviolet light. Not only are most single ply membrane materials 100% UV resistant, but they’re also not affected by the build up of potentially harmful micro-organisms.

  • Durable

When applied with a hot air weld, the single ply roof membrane also provides your building with some much needed protection against changing weather conditions and even the most extreme temperatures.

  • Fire Retardant

Due to their composition, single ply membrane roofs are  also fire resistant and even self-extinguishing. For any business, organisation or workplace that is concerned about the fire safety of their employees, visitors or customers then single ply roofing is certain to provide you with both confidence and security.

  • Resistant to Chemicals

For areas that are likely to be exposed to potential harmful chemicals, it’s certainly reassuring to know your roofing material is protecting yourself and your building against acid rain and other forms of acidic outflow.

  • Eco-Friendly

In comparison to the more traditional industrial roofing materials, single ply membranes are considerably more environmentally friendly in their production, longevity and ability to be recycled. Thermoplastic Polyethylene (TPE) is claimed to be the most eco-friendly variation that’s currently available.

Types of Single ply membrane

  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Due to its durability, longevity and ability to withstand a build up of chemicals and acidic outflow, PVC has become one of the most widely used flat roofing materials in the UK and across Europe for almost half a century. It’s also extremely easy to manufacture, install and repair.

  • Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO)

Much like PVC, Thermoplastic Olefin is another commonly used material for a wide variety of flat roofing solutions. Also known as Flexible Polyolefin (FPO), TPO isn’t as flexible as PVC and is also likely to incur extra installation costs due to the use of solvents. Due to the strong weatherproofing properties, TPO is often used when undertaking a green roof construction and has a life expectancy of around 20 years.

  • Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM)

EPDM is a versatile and flexible single ply material that can be mechanically secured, ballasted as well as fully adhered. Normally, the EPDM membrane is 100% cured when it arrives on site so there is not need to delay the installation process. It also has excellent weathering qualities as it is 100% resistant to UV radiation, Ozone thermal shock and changing weather conditions. The life expectancy of EPDM is between 20 – 30 years, however reports in the USA now suggest up to 40 years.

The cost of a single ply roof membrane

Depending on the specific manufacturer, the cost of a single ply membrane roof can vary considerably between the type of material that you’ve settled for. Generally, it’s suggested that an EPDM roofing membrane is usually the most cost effective closely followed by PVC and TPO.

Nevertheless, we would always recommend contacting professional industrial roofing contractors for more detailed information about the material, the installation process and any costs that may incur.

Why choose a single ply roofing membrane?

But how do you know a single ply membrane system is right for you? Well, there are many reasons to choose this type of commercial roof.

Highly durable

Not only is a single ply membrane roofing system highly durable and resistant to tears and punctures, it’s also a type of roof that will not suffer any major problems under the presence of chemical materials. So durable is a single ply membrane roof that when applied with a hot air weld, it provides the roofing system added protection against various weather conditions and extreme temperatures, including acid rain. And that’s not all, singly ply membranes are also resistant to damaging ultraviolet light.

The composition of a single ply membrane system also means that not only is it extremely fire retardant, but self-extinguishing too!


There are many reasons that a single ply membrane system is a cost-effective commercial roofing solution. First of all, the fact that installation is usually relatively quick and simple means that initially, it’s a cost-effective method. Then, when you factor in the durable and flexible nature of the membrane, it means that repairs and maintenance shouldn’t be substantial over the course of the roof’s lifespan. And lastly, should the roof need to be repaired for whatever reason, repairs and modifications are relatively simple and straightforward so again, costs can be kept down.

Other benefits of a single-ply membrane include:

  • Wide variety of grades available to choose from (grades are the type of protection desire from the product)
  • Various colours to choose from
  • Lightweight product
  • Excellent reflective properties
  • Easy to install
  • Eco-friendly

Will my current roofing system be suitable for Single Ply?

The suitability of any single-ply roofing material is determined by several factors, including the detailing or flashing needed, suitable attachment methods, insurance and energy requirements, site location and whether you are re-covering a roof or starting anew. You also have building heights, wind exposure, roof traffic and aesthetics to take into account.

There’s no need to panic! From the very start of your project, our honesty, integrity and experience as industrial roofing contractors will ensure that the installation of your single ply roofing system is completed in a highly professional manner.

Indeed we have provided a range of single-ply systems to many happy clients across the length and breadth of the UK. All of our roof installation projects are guaranteed by insurance for both materials and workmanship, and we’ll ensure that whatever your requirements, you get the right roof for your commercial property.

If you’d like to learn more about single ply roofing, please don’t hesitate to call the friendly team at Roofing Consultants Group who will be more than happy to assist with any questions you may have: 0800 046 1500