Pros and Cons of Built-Up Roofs Versus Rubber Membrane EDPM Roofs

There are various types of flat roof systems to choose from for your home or building. Many options are well-suited for new construction homes and roof replacement needs, making it more difficult for you to decide which style is best for your property. Two of the most common choices in the flat roof market are built-up roof systems (BUR) and EDPM rubber membrane roof systems. Continue reading to learn more about both systems by comparing the pros and cons of each.

Built-Up Roofs (BUR)

Built-up roofing (BUR) is a customary choice for flat roof systems. These systems are built in layers, starting with several waterproof ply sheets, followed by a layer of hot tar and gravel (hot bitumen or asphalt-based), and then ballasted by a layer of smooth river stone. This top layers works as an effective reflective coating for increased energy efficiency, while the hot asphalt mix provides durability and doubles as a fire retardant.

Although traditionally made from hot tar and gravel or tar paper, industry innovations continue to rise and more advanced materials are being used for BURs, such as fiberglass membranes. The total cost of BUR procurement and installation varies from client to client, as it depends on a wide variety of factors. Some of the most influential factors include total square footage and quality of material. On average, BUR systems generally cost between $5 and $7 per square foot installed.


Inexpensive in Comparison to Alternative Flat Roof Options

Visually Appealing for Windows and Balconies That Overlook a Roof

Reflective Coating Improves Energy Efficiency and Reduces Heat Gain


Requires More Frequent Routine Maintenance in Comparison to Alternative Systems

Materials are Heavy and Increase Installation Time

Installation Can Be Tedious; Improper Installation Can Clog Gutters

EDPM Rubber Membrane Roofs

EDPM rubber membrane roofs (“EPDM” stands for “ethylene propylene diene monomer”) are another common flat roof option that work very well for large, flat rooftops. This material is a true flexible rubber that can be installed in a number of ways. The most traditional installation methods include using fasteners to mechanically anchor it, ballasting it with stone, or using adhesive. They come in wide rolls that must be rolled out with the utmost precision and care to avoid air bubbles and other structural defects.

EDPM roofing systems provide a wide range of benefits, including higher durability, UV damage resistance, and much more. Property owners also admire the ease of installation and lower routine maintenance needs, as well as, its resistance to natural wear and tear like scuffs and scratches. In terms of cost, the total amount will vary depending on the unique factors and circumstance of your property. On average, you can expect EDPM rubber roofing to cost anywhere between $4.00 and $7.00 per square foot installed.


Low Maintenance and Easy to Patch Up Water Leaks

Resistant to Water Leaks and Surface Blemishes Like Scuffs and Tears

Can Last Up to 20 Years or More With Good Care

Renders a Clean, Uniform Look


Absorbs a Large Amount of Heat, Making a Reflective Top Coating a Necessary

Reflective White Top Coating is an Additional Cost to Procurement and Installation

Excess Heat Absorption Can Increase Energy Costs by 30% or More

Leave a Reply