TPO vs Silicone Roofing: Comparing the Pros and Cons for Commercial Roofs

Close-up view of rolled roofing material with a backdrop of a commercial building, highlighting the comparison of TPO vs. silicone roofing for commercial roofs.

In the ever-evolving landscape of commercial roofing, property owners and managers face a range of options that cater to different needs, aesthetics, and budgets. Two of the most popular materials in the industry today are thermoplastic olefin (TPO) and silicone roofing.

A type of single-ply roofing membrane, TPO is prized for its durable, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly properties. Comparatively, silicone roofing is a liquid-applied system that cures to form a seamless, durable, and moisture-resistant barrier over an existing roof substrate.

Both contenders offer unique advantages in the ongoing debate of whether to use TPO vs. silicone roof solutions. Continue reading to discover the difference between TPO vs. silicon roofing and how they stack up when compared against each other.

An Overview of TPO vs. Silicone Roofing

TPO is a single-ply roofing membrane crafted from polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber. These elements are polymerized through advanced manufacturing techniques to yield a robust, adaptable roofing solution ideal for various commercial settings.

Among its standout features, TPO roof sealant offers energy efficiency thanks to a reflective white surface. The lightweight nature of TPO streamlines installation, while the material’s recyclability enhances its green credentials. With resistance to mold, dirt, and UV radiation, TPO ensures a roof’s longevity while helping to create a cooler indoor atmosphere.

On the other hand, silicone roofing is a high-performance liquid coating applied over existing roof assemblies. Formulated from silicone polymers and catalysts, it cures to create a unified, elastic, and moisture-resistant layer, expertly shielding structures from the weather conditions of all four seasons.

Silicone roofing offers permanent protection against harsh UV rays, ensuring it doesn’t degrade or crack while safeguarding the underlying roof from sun-induced wear. Its seamless design guarantees optimal leak protection, and its natural resistance to ponding water means it remains uncompromised in water-logged areas. With an inherent elasticity, silicone for roofs withstands temperature changes, minimizing maintenance and long-term expenses.

Understanding the composition and advantages of TPO and silicone roofing becomes essential for determining the best choice for a commercial roof. Both offer unique strengths, catering to commercial property owners’ different needs and preferences.

TPO Roofing Pros and Cons

TPO roofing has become a popular choice among businesses and commercial property owners. Yet, like every material, it comes with its own set of strengths and potential weaknesses. To make an informed decision on whether TPO is the right choice for a commercial roof, it’s critical to understand the advantages and limitations.

Advantages of TPO Roofing

TPO roofing has steadily risen in popularity due to the benefits it offers commercial structures, with energy efficiency as its primary advantage. The predominantly white surface of TPO roofs reflects sunlight, reducing heat absorption and lowering cooling costs. Additionally, the lightweight nature of TPO means a streamlined installation process, which often translates to shorter work times and reduces labor costs. TPO roofing is the most cost-competitive single-ply membrane on the market.

Environmentally conscious businesses will appreciate TPO’s eco-friendly recyclability that helps to reduce landfill waste and conserve energy. Using recycled materials, TPO manufacturing can be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly, lessening the need for raw materials and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Durability is another notable strength, as TPO is resistant to mold, dirt accumulation, and UV radiation, ensuring a longer lifespan. Furthermore, its flexibility allows it to adapt to a building’s natural movement without tearing or breaking, making it a reliable choice for various climatic conditions.

Limitations of TPO Roofing

While TPO boasts numerous advantages, it also features a few notable limitations. TPO quality can vary between manufacturers, making working with a reputable supplier essential. Furthermore, while it’s known for its durability, TPO can be vulnerable to punctures, especially in areas with heavy foot traffic or falling debris. If not installed correctly, this roofing type may also develop seam failures, leading to potential leaks. Finally, though TPO is UV-resistant, it can degrade over time due to excessive sun exposure, making regular maintenance vital.

Silicone Roofing Pros and Cons

While not a newcomer to the commercial roofing scene, silicone roofing has garnered increased attention for its durability and distinct capabilities. As with TPO, it’s vital to weigh the advantages of silicone roofing solutions against potential limitations to make an informed choice.

Advantages of Silicone Roofing

Silicone roofing has established a role in commercial roofing thanks to a variety of benefits. Primarily, its seamless application ensures a watertight and durable protective layer, offering exceptional leak prevention. Its UV resistance is unmatched, working to safeguard the underlying roof from the detrimental effects of sun exposure.

Silicone’s natural resilience to ponding water makes it a top choice for areas prone to water accumulation, ensuring longevity where other materials might degrade. Similar to TPO, the elasticity of silicone roofing accommodates building movements and temperature fluctuations without compromising its integrity. This flexibility means reduced cracking and tearing, leading to fewer maintenance concerns and, ultimately, a reduced life-cycle cost for property owners.

SEE ALSO: The Benefits of Commercial Roof Maintenance Programs

Limitations of Silicone Roofing

Despite its many strengths, silicone roofing does face specific challenges.

Liquid-applied roofing systems, such as silicone, require installation over a suitable substrate. It’s crucial to assess whether the current roof, particularly one with multiple layers, contains moisture before applying the silicone material. While various technologies and methods exist to detect moisture within roof systems, each has its limitations. Neither IR scans nor selective core samples offer foolproof results on their own. Occasionally, the effort and cost of verifying the existing roof’s suitability for a silicone application outweigh the potential benefits.

Additionally, depending on the application and the manufacturer, silicone roofing systems will not be warranted by the manufacturer for as long as TPO roofing systems

Experience the Ideal Difference

Property owners have plenty of options when it comes to maintaining the health of commercial roofs. While TPO and silicone roofing stand out as leading contenders as the right choice for most commercial roofs, they each offer certain advantages that can make one more favorable than the other.

With its energy efficiency, cost-effective installation, and recyclability, TPO roofing has emerged as an eco-friendly and durable choice. Conversely, silicone roofing, with its exceptional reputation for seamless application, UV resistance, and resilience to ponding water, promises longevity and reduced maintenance concerns.

However, every material has its challenges. From potential punctures in TPO roofs to the higher initial costs of silicone roofing, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons in line with your property’s specific needs and environment.

Navigating these choices might seem daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. At Ideal Building Solutions, we’re dedicated to guiding property owners through their commercial roofing options. Contact our experienced team today to schedule a consultation, and let’s determine the best solution tailored to your roof’s unique needs


What is the difference between TPO and silicone roofing?

TPO roofing is a single-ply membrane made from polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber, offering energy efficiency and resistance to mold, dirt, and UV radiation. Silicone roofing, on the other hand, is a liquid-applied system that forms a seamless, moisture-resistant barrier over an existing roof, providing permanent protection against UV rays and ponding water.

What are the advantages of TPO roofing?

TPO roofing offers several advantages, including energy efficiency, lightweight installation, cost competitiveness, recyclability, and durability. Its reflective white surface reduces heat absorption, lowering cooling costs, while its resistance to mold, dirt, and UV radiation ensures a longer lifespan. TPO roofing is also a cost-effective and environmentally friendly choice due to its recyclability.

What are the advantages of silicone roofing?

Silicone roofing is known for its seamless application, UV resistance, and resilience to ponding water. It provides exceptional leak prevention, safeguards the underlying roof from sun-induced wear and water accumulation, and withstands temperature fluctuations without compromising its integrity. Silicone roofing requires less maintenance and offers a reduced life-cycle cost for property owners.

What are the limitations of TPO and silicone roofing?

TPO roofing can be vulnerable to punctures, especially in areas with heavy foot traffic or falling debris. Improper installation may lead to seam failures and potential leaks. While TPO is UV-resistant, it can degrade over time due to excessive sun exposure. On the other hand, silicone roofing requires a suitable substrate for installation and may not be warranted by the manufacturer for as long as TPO roofing systems.