Often called EPDM roofing, companies first introduced rubber roofing in 1962. Over the next two decades, it became an extremely popular roofing material, particularly when the Middle East oil embargo drove up the price of asphalt shingles. This type of roofing material has come a long way since those early days. As with any innovative product, the first rubber roofs were not without problems. Those issues, however, have been solved to a large degree today.
A combination of white gas and a Neoprene-based splicing adhesive was used to glue on the first rubber roofing. The Neoprene broke down over time causing roofs to leak. In the 1980s, roofers started using a butyl-based splice adhesive that required many steps to put on. Therefore, workmanship had to be top notch or the roof’s seams would leak. About the turn of the century, roofing contractors in Orlando started using customized primers and double-sided seam tape. Today, roofers use heat-welded seams, and there are very few problems because the process is very straightforward.
When the first rubber roofs were put on, roofing contractors in Orlando used to hold the rubber in place at a 90-degree angle where it attached to the base of parapet walls. As elements and age deteriorated the wood strips, then the roofing material would come loose. Extruded rubber/plastic nailing strips replaced the wood strips as the industry standard until 1989 when roofers started using rubber strips and metal seam fasteners. This same process is being used today to adhere roofs when angles change tightly.
Forty-five-milliliter thick rubber roofing was the standard for many years. Now, you can get 60 and 90-milliliter thick rubber roofing that stands up much better when something falls. In fact, 90-milliliter options are 100 % stronger than the original alternative. Furthermore, since the mid-1980s, internal scrims have been added to make the roofing material even more puncture resistant. Many thinner options have a reinforced back to add more puncture resistance.
Originally, uncured Neoprene compounds were used for flashings on rubber roofs were made of uncured Neoprene. While this product worked well when it was new, as it aged, it would crack and fail. In the mid-1980s, companies introduced uncured EPDM flashings, and they added many benefits as these roofs stood up over time. Starting in 1992, roofers used cured EPDM flashings that added toughness and durability. They are the standard today for wall and curb flashing details.
Incredibly, some of those original rubber roofs are still protecting commercial buildings and homes today. The great news is that with the many advances in rubber roofing, these roofs do an even better job today. In fact, the average lifespan of a rubber roof is 50 years. If you are interested in learning more, then contact Century Roofing Specialist.