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Which RV Roof is Better, EPDM or TPO?

Which RV Roof is Better, EPDM or TPO?

EPDM and TPO are the common roofing materials that are used in RVs. EPDM means ethylene propylene diene terpolymer, and TPO is thermoplastic polyolefin. Both of these are made of rubber material but have different ingredients. The former comprises synthetic rubber and a mixture of chemical compounds. However, the latter is a single white membrane made of propylene material.

Which RV Roof is Better, EPDM or TPO? EPDM RV roof is better than TPO in terms of durability, resistance to scratches, installation method, mold resistance, fewer puncture chances, cost maintenance, historical background, weight considerations, and color options.

RV roofs play a significant role, and people usually get confused while selecting these because of the different materials and their durability. They are made of high-quality rubber material that can withstand extreme weather conditions and environmental exposure.

Features EPDM TPO
Durability 30 years 20 to 25 years
Slipperiness Smooth surface Textured surface
Weight consideration lightweight Thicker and heavier
Resistance to scratches Highly resistant to scratches and punctures Les resistant
Installation method Easy to install Difficult to install
Mold resistant Hydrophobic and mold-resistant Not mold resistant
UV resistance Not resistant to high-temperature Highly energy efficient
Cost $12 to $20 per square foot More than $25 per square foot
Maintenance Low maintenance High maintenance
Color options White, gray, and tan White
Historical usage More than 50 years About 20 years


EPDM is better because it is highly durable and can last more than 30 years because of its manufacturing ingredients. You do not have to replace it frequently, which is costly and time-consuming.

In addition, it is less vulnerable to cracks and punctures because of its highly resistant material. These can last for years because of the chemical composition of the rubber material.

Vulcanized carbon chains make this rubber resistant to damage and environmental conditions. However, TPO can last for about 20 years when you maintain them properly.


TPO RV roofing is better in terms of its textured surface. EPDM have smooth surfaces, which increase the chances of slipping. Water exposure makes their surface highly slippery, and you cannot walk on them.

TPO contains a textured surface, which reduces the chances of slipping.

These are less slippery because of their orange peel. Moreover, you can maintain the grip of your feet on their surface because of the textured surface.

However, it can get slippery because of snow and rainwater exposure. You should walk carefully on it to decrease the risk of serious injuries.

Weight consideration

EPDM is lighter in weight, which is beneficial to reduce the overall RV weight. Lighter-weight RVs are easy to tow, and they do not put strain on towing vehicles.

In addition, they also improve the fuel economy and provide better handling while moving at turning points. TPO is heavier because of the thicker layer of rubber material.

It is specially designed to reduce the chances of puncture in high-traffic areas. Moreover, it is resistant to snowy and hailing weather because of the thick layer, which increases the overall RV weight.

Resistance to scratches

EPDM is resistant to scratches and punctures because of neoprene and carbon black. These roofs in your RV last longer because of their resistance against harsh weather conditions.

These can easily withstand the ozone and UV rays. Moreover, chances of age-related deterioration are also less common in this type of rubber.

Synthetic rubber is less vulnerable to damage because of its chemical composition. Punctures and scratches are common in the rubber material because of snowy weather, hailing, wind, high traffic areas, use of incorrect cleaners, and exposure to tree shrubs.

These can withstand these conditions and last for longer. My RV contains the EPDM roof, while my friend has the TPO. I saw no scratches or punctures on their surface in 20 years.

However, my friend spent hundreds of dollars on sealing punctured surfaces. Moreover, I prefer to inspect the roof once a week to check for leakages and cracked surfaces. I recommend performing the inspection before going on a trip for a pleasant experience on the road.

Installation method

EPDM is a better choice for your RV because of its easy installation and repair procedures. You can also install these at home, which does not require professional hiring.

You have to adhere the adhesive film over the roof decking and allow it to dry. You do not need any special tools for their installation.

It also saves your labor costs because you can install it at home. However, TPO is difficult to install because of the presence of seams. You have to use a hot air welding procedure to adhere their seams over the decking surface.

Mold resistant

EPDM is resistant to molds and fungus, reducing the damage risk. In addition, it is also less vulnerable to discoloration, which commonly comes because of mold growth.

It contains anti-microbial chemicals, which reduce the risk of microbe growth on their surface. These chemicals are added to rubber material during their manufacturing.

It has hydrophobic chemistry, which does not allow the rubber to react with water and increases the risk of moisture buildup in a specific area.

It is water-resistant and does not provide special media for mold growth. It repels the molds, fungi, bacteria, and other microbes.

UV resistance

TPO provides better protection against UV radiation as compared to EPMD. EPDM is not resistant to high temperatures and is vulnerable to shrinkage because of high temperatures.

Shrinking of rubber material disturbs the overall exterior integrity. It does not completely reflect the UV radiations directly from the sun.

It retains heat from the sunlight because of its darker color and cannot keep the interior cool in summer weather.

TPO is lighter in the shade, and it reflects UV radiation. In addition, it also enhances the working efficiency of air conditioners by providing insulation against hot environments.

I recommended my friend purchase RVs with TPO roofs because of the high temperature in his area. It provides better protection against hot weather and makes your trip comfortable.


The cost required for EPDM installation is less because of its easy installation procedures. You need $12 to $20 per square foot to add these, depending on the size of your RV.

However, TPO is costly to install, requiring more than $25 per square foot. Furthermore, installation costs can also vary according to the size of the RV and the quality of products you are using for it.

These are costly to install because of the welding procedures. You have to weld their seams to last longer and decrease their vulnerability to damage.


EPDM is better in terms of maintenance and less chance of leakage. These are easy to maintain, and you do not have to inspect your RV roof regularly to check leakages and airflow in the interior cabin.

Moreover, these rubber materials are easy to maintain when properly installed. These can last longer for more than 30 years with minimal cleaning.

My RV also contains the EPDM roof; I prefer to wash it after 4 months. I usually use roof cleaners to remove the grime and debris from their surface.

However, TPO requires frequent cleaning and is challenging to maintain because of the seams. You have to frequently apply sealants and adhesives over their seams to reduce the leaking.

Color options

EPDM is available in various colors: white, gray, black, and tan. People living in cold climate areas prefer to choose darker shades to retain heat and keep the interior warmer during winters.

However, these darker shades are not suitable during summer because of their heat absorbance property. In addition, TPO is available in white and gray shades, and it is better to select white because it reflects the heat and UV radiation.

Historical usage

DuPont introduced EPMD rubber roofs in the 1960s. It was launched because natural rubber substances cannot withstand high temperatures and environmental conditions.

TPO was launched in Europe around 15 to 20 years ago. These rubber membranes were introduced in 1991 and were known as the flexible polyolefin.

They came to the United States in the early 90s and are now famous for their durability and UV-resistant properties.

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