Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was first used to manufacture pipes in 1935. Since then, the raw material, known for its versatile flexibility, has been widely used in household and industrial applications. Common uses have included flooring and electrical cable insulation.

Over the last 50 years, the use of PVC for roofing has become a promising cost-effective solution for industrial and commercial buildings, particularly those with flat, low-slope roofs.

What is PVC Roofing?

PVC is a synthetic plastic polymer composed of chlorine and ethylene. The vinyl resin is compounded with:

  • Plasticizers
  • Ultraviolet (UV) light inhibitors
  • Heat-stabilizers
  • Color pigments
  • Biocides

The durable properties of the lightweight yet sturdy material make it an ideal roofing material.

PVC roofing membranes consist of a polyester reinforcement scrim placed between two layers of PVC material. The single-ply top membrane contains additives to enhance UV resistance and prevent curing. The bottom ply is a layer of black PVC, consisting of plasticizers to increase flexibility but does not contain any other fillers or additives. Fiberglass or polyester reinforcement promotes high tearing and breaking strengths required in PVC roofing systems.

The use of PVC has become so widely accepted across many industries that it is now recognized as the world’s third most-produced synthetic plastic by weight.

Benefits of PVC Roofing

The single-ply roofing membrane provides long-lasting and high-quality protection. Some of the many benefits of using PVC in roofing systems include:

  1. Durability:  Due to the strength and durability of their makeup, PVC roof membranes typically have a long service life of between 20-30 years.
  2. Wind Resistance: The welded seams of PVC roofing membranes provide very strong wind resistance, and a properly designed PVC roof system can meet or exceed wind uplift requirements needed to obtain FM approvals.
  3. Fire Resistance: PVC is a self-extinguishing material that is resistant to fire. The roofing membrane is resistant to harmful oxidation reactions and is difficult to ignite. It also stops burning as soon as a heat source is removed, making it a beneficial property for roofing applications.
  4. Chemical Resistance: Byproducts of manufacturing processes, such as oils and chemicals, often negatively affect commercial and industrial roofs. The chemical resistance properties of PVC make it more durable than other commonly used roofing materials. Able to withstand harsh conditions, chemical exposure is not an issue with PVC, making it a safe and reliable choice for roofing systems.
  5. Environmental Friendliness: PVC membranes have high solar reflective properties, leading to less energy consumption and lower utility bills. There is no petroleum used in manufacturing, it instead relies on saltwater to produce chlorine and natural gas to produce ethylene. The material is also recyclable and carries a low carbon footprint.

How To Maintain A PVC Roof

A PVC roofing system is incredibly durable and can last for more than 20 years if properly maintained. Best practices for the upkeep and maintenance of a PVC roof include:

  • Getting rid of standing water to eliminate leaks and prevent mold, rot, or further damage to the roof.
  • Regularly inspecting all seams and flashing, particularly after a severe rainstorm or significant construction event.
  • Inspect the surface at least twice a year for rips or tears to prevent potential leaks before it occurs.

PVC membranes contain a finish that repels harmful chemicals, but it still requires regular maintenance to improve their lifespan. Periodic cleaning will enhance the roof’s appearance and help identify any potential issues before they become a costly problem.

Dirt removal is quick and easy using a mild detergent and soft bristle brush or broom. Heavier soiled areas with algae buildup may require a stronger cleaning solution for better results.

After scrubbing is complete, it is imperative to thoroughly rinse all cleaning residues from the roof using a garden hose. Use caution if utilizing a pressure washer, as it is easy to cause damage to PVC roofing. Never use more than 1500 psi, and keep the nozzle at least 24” from the surface.

PVC Roofing Services By Knickerbocker Roofing

With over 135 years of experience, Knickerbocker Roofing & Paving Co., Inc. provides excellent customer service and a high-quality finished product. As a family-owned and operated company, we pride ourselves on making sure employees follow the best practices to ensure safety remains a priority.

Contact Knickerbocker Roofing for the installation of PVC roofing on flat and low-slope roofs for industrial and commercial buildings. Our professional team can provide a custom quote to meet your business needs.