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Ballasted EPDM Roofing Systems: How Cool Are They?

Ballasted EPDM

When you think of a single-ply EPDM roofing system, you probably think about the membrane’s superior weatherability, its remarkable resistance to deterioration and its capacity to remain strong and flexible even in frigid temperatures. You might already know that rubberized EPDM membrane is recyclable and that it often comes with one of the longest warranties in the roofing industry. But, you might not know that when combined with ballasted installation and the right amount of insulation, EPDM roofing can go toe-to-toe with conventional “cool” roofing systems.

EPDM’s Cool-Roof Factor

Ballasted EPDM Cool Roof

In warm/hot regions where facility managers spend more to cool their buildings than to heat them, highly reflective single-ply membrane systems are popular. A ballasted EPDM roofing system that features natural river-washed stone or pavers, sustains a typical surface temperature of 90-103 degrees Fahrenheit, which is comparable to that of highly reflective membranes. An added benefit of ballasted EPDM is that it does not reflect heat onto overworked rooftop HVAC units or nearby windows.

How Does It Work?

The largest conclusive study to date was conducted by the Oak National Laboratory (ORNL) and lasted four years. During that time, heat data was gathered from different types of ballasted EPDM roofs and their “cool roof” competitors. The results were something professional roofing companies have known all along – under a layer of concrete pavers or river-washed stones, black single-ply EPDM will not exceed acceptable cool roofing temperature ranges. While ballasted itself is not reflective, it offers superior thermal mass; retaining heat instead of transferring it to the membrane. This thermal retention not only reduces cooling costs in warm climates, it prevents heat loss during winter in cooler climates as well.

Additional Benefits of Ballasted EPDM

Ballasted EPDM roofs are aesthetically pleasing, and they have an enviable low life cycle cost when compared to some other roof systems. With wider membrane widths – up to 50 feet – less seams are required, making installation fast, efficient and less opportunities for water intrusion. Adding appropriate insulation beneath the ballasted EPDM further reduces heat transfer and resultant facility cooling costs. A ballasted EPDM roof decreases sound transfer and provides great wind uplift resistance. In addition, EPDM will not pollute water runoff.

Why North American Roofing for Ballasted EPDM Systems

With all the benefits ballasted EPDM offers, bear in mind that any roof system is only as good as the company that installs it. At North American Roofing, we’ve installed more EPDM membrane than any other roofing company around. We hold premier contractor status with major manufacturers including Carlisle SynTec, Firestone Building Products, and Johns Manville. Since 1979, we’ve installed hundreds of millions of square feet of EPDM membrane. We’re licensed in every state, so no matter where your facility is – we can help.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of ballasted EPDM, and how it can protect your facility while reducing your climate-control costs, give us a call today at 800-551-5602. We’re here to help you make the roofing decision that’s right for you.

Case Study: Corporate Disk Company


Corporate Disk Company
McHenry, IL l 2013
22,926 sq. ft. l 60-mil, Non-reinforced EPDM Ballasted Roof

After 20 years, the 22,926 sq. ft. roof on the Corporate Disk Company’s facility in McHenry, Illinois, needed to be replaced. The company, which manufactures digital media products and accessories, was looking for a long-term solution. The facility’s existing EPDM membrane and flashings had deteriorated to such an extent that maintenance and repair were no longer options.


Corporate Disk selected a new EPDM single-ply membrane, held in place with ballast. This roofing system was the best fit for their specific facility, the prevailing weather conditions and their roofing budget. While the old membrane was not salvageable, the existing insulation layer was still in decent shape and was re-used, while the old membrane was recycled.


North American Roofing completed the project in 2 weeks in the following order:

  • Removed the damaged EPDM membrane
  • Prepped and reattached the insulation layer (when necessary)
  • Installed 60-mil, non-reinforced, single-ply EPDM membrane
  • Secured with ballast

Operations continued at Corporate Disk during the re-roofing project. North American Roofing employed non-disruptive practices that allowed Corporate Disk to carry on its day-to-day activities.


The Corporate Disk re-roofing project was a success because North American Roofing was able to remove the old system and install the new one in two short weeks. The company originally contacted North American Roofing because the scope of the project required the services of a large, well-organized roofing company. It was important to complete the re-roofing project quickly so that it didn’t interfere with the scheduled installation of a new parking lot.

Single-Ply Roofing: Installation Considerations

Because they’re flexible, durable and amazingly weather-resistant, single-ply roofing systems have grown in popularity with low-slope facility owners and managers. High quality EPDM, TPO and PVC membranes, manufactured under strict quality controls, are suitable for both new roof and re-roofing projects. Installation methods vary, depending on the type of single-ply system selected and other criteria, but in all cases, professional installation is critical to the life and success of the roof.

Mechanically Attached Roof Installation

Mechanically Attached Roof Installation

A mechanically attached membrane secures to the roof substrate using individual fasteners. Depending on the roof decking, the fasteners could be concrete screws, nails, augers or other types of penetrating fasteners. If the facility has a steel or wood roof deck, if installation will take place in cool weather, or if the new membrane will be installed over an existing roof, mechanical attachment could be the best choice. A mechanically attached roof is affordable and relatively quick to install.

Fully-Adhered Roof Installation

Fulled-Adhered Roof Installation

A fully-adhered roof system features the use of adhesive to hold the membrane in place. We might recommend a fully-adhered installation if your facility’s roof is unsuitable for mechanical attachment. A fully-adhered membrane offers increased wind uplift resistance on structurally sound roofs, and it can be a good choice where substrate penetrations must be avoided.

Ballasted Roof Installation

Ballasted Roof Installation

For centuries, ship captains have used stones and sand as ballast to stabilize their ships on stormy seas. Likewise, a ballasted roof features a layer of gravel, washed river rock or paving stones, placed over the single-ply membrane to secure it. The ballast also protects the membrane from harsh UV rays and can do double duty as a roof-top plaza, patio or garden spot, if desired.

Induction Welded Roof Installation

Induction Welded Roof Installation

Where mechanical attachment is feasible, but fewer penetrations are desirable, heat induction welding might be the answer. Induction welding systems, such as RhinoBond, feature coated plates, which attach to the roof deck before the membrane is installed. Once the membrane is in place, a special induction-welding tool bonds the membrane to the plates. The need for additional penetrating fasteners is reduced by as much as 50%.

What’s the Best Roof Installation Method for My Facility?

Roof structure, intended facility use, climate and budget all play a part in selecting a single-ply system and method of installation. At North American Roofing, we carefully analyze all aspects to determine the type of membrane and installation method best suited for your specific facility. We install all major brands of single-ply systems, and no matter what type of installation method we use, we make it a point not to interfere with your day-to-day business routine. Not all installation methods are suitable for all types of single-ply roofing systems, so a reputable roofing contractor must be involved in the scope designing process.

For more information, a free roof consultation, or to speak with one of our specialists, call us today at 800-551-5602.

Choosing the Right Roofing System

Choosing the Right Roof System

Choosing the right roofing system for your facility can be difficult without some help from the pros. Because new roofs and re-roofing projects are expensive propositions, getting the most bang for your buck requires careful assessment. Fortunately, North American Roofing specialists are trained to evaluate your building’s physical aspects, your business goals and aesthetic desires, and incorporate those with your budget.

Certain factors are a consideration whether you’re in the preliminary information-gathering stage or you’re ready to go forward with your roofing project.

  • Location and Weather: Prevailing weather patterns are a consideration in choosing a roof. There is no effective one-size-fits-all roofing system because geographic variations in wind velocity, potential snow load and annual rainfall all figure into choosing the right roofing system. Even things like roof orientation or whether nearby trees will shade the roof are important factors.
  • Facility Use: A retail business has different roofing needs than those of a storage facility. While both require leak-free roofs, the retail business needs a roof that provides a comfortable environment for customers and staff.  The right roof for a manufacturing enterprise might not be sufficient for a shopping center, a hospital or a school building.
  • Roof Traffic: Some roofs have very little traffic, while others require walkways that provide access to rooftop units. Roofs with high foot traffic needs require additional structural pathway support.
  • Maintenance Requirements: All roofs need regular periodic maintenance, but not all roof systems can be successfully maintained by an in-house crew. This isn’t an issue, however, when you choose to enroll in North American Roofing’s RoofGuard Preventative Maintenance program.
  • Energy Savings: In today’s economy, everyone wants to save money on utility costs, and if that’s an important factor for you, a cool roof or a reflective roof might be beneficial. Beefed-up insulation and photovoltaic (PV) systems can also help you achieve your energy goals.

Your future facility plans are also important in choosing the right roofing system. If you want to sell the facility soon, initial roofing cost is an important factor. In that case, your building might be a candidate for roof coating or a liquid-applied roofing membrane.

If you plan to retain ownership and operations for up to 10-15 years, roof replacement becomes more attractive, and if you plan to own the building for 20 years or longer, it pays to invest in a roof system that has a long service life and a long-term warranty.

At the end of the day, you want a roof that protects your assets and your investment, and that’s where we shine. We earned our reputation for being the most trusted roofing company in the United States because we put our customers first. Highly-trained North American Roofing specialists will evaluate your facility and help you choose the system that best suits your building, your needs and your budget. To find out more about your roofing options, call us today at 866-567-2064.

Advantages of EPDM Roof Systems

Not all roofing systems can brag that they’ve been around for more than four decades. Technically known as “ethylene propylene diene terpolymer,” EPDM is an exceptionally strong and resilient roofing system that can last 30 years or longer when installed and maintained correctly.

If you’re in the market for a new facility roof or you just want to know what your options are – you might be interested in knowing that EPDM is among the best roofing choices for affordability, energy savings and for reducing your building’s carbon footprint.

EPDM Checklist

  • EPDM roof membrane comes in traditional black or highly reflective white.
  • EPDM resists thermal shock and hail damage.
  • EPDM remains flexible and will not shatter in frigid temperatures.
  • EPDM is superior in its ability to withstand UV damage.
  • EPDM accommodates structural movement without membrane stress.
  • EPDM does not deteriorate.
  • EPDM membrane comes in sheets up to 50-feet wide.
  • EPDM offers one of the best dollar-for-dollar values in low-slope installations.
  • EPDM accounts for more than one billion sq. ft. of new roofing in the U.S. every year.


EPDM is a good choice no matter where your building is located. In hot southern regions of the United States, fully adhered and mechanically fastened white EPDM reduces air conditioning and cooling costs. In cold northern zones, black EPDM membrane is more appropriate. Traditional ballasted EPDM systems offer superior energy performance, and by increasing underlying insulation, you can achieve an even higher R-value.

Maintenance and Repair

The longer your roof lasts, the further your roof investment dollar goes. Because EPDM’s membrane withstands the onslaught of scorching UV rays, rain and freezing temperatures, roof life can be maximized through periodic inspections and regular maintenance.

Larger repairs to EPDM roofs, such as reattaching loose sections of membrane, restoring displaced ballast, re-seaming delaminated joints and repairing penetrations and flashings and can all extend the useful life of an EPDM roof.

Roof Longevity

The EPDM Roofing Association (ERA) recently inspected a number of 30-year-old EPDM roofs and found that the membranes still exhibited high tensile strength, and “like new” performance. The key to EPDM success, of course, lies in professional installation by qualified experts.

Ultimately, the best roof for your building depends on its structure, your facility budget, geographical location and the proposed use of the building. At North American Roofing, we offer many roof options, and we’re proud of the fact that we’ve successfully installed hundreds of millions of square feet of EPDM over the years. Nobody does EPDM better than North American Roofing. Nobody.

Give us a call today at 888-517-3555 to find out if EPDM is the right choice for your facility.