Roofing Southwest Blog > Polymer Roofing

Polymer Roofing

August 17, 2017

What is polymer roofing?

Polymers are made up of many molecules strung together to form really long chains. They occur naturally, and can also be man-made. A perfect example of a man-made Polymer is plastic. A natural polymer is rubber from the caoutchouc or Indian rubber tree. When used in single-ply roofing, a polymer can provide both a rubber like absorption to impact, combined with a tough underlying structure to resist damage.

In short, polymer roofing is made from the same stuff that has gotten so popular for decks, also known as composite decking. Most polymer roofing is made by melting down recycled plastics, thus keeping all that material out of landfills and oceans and putting it to good use!


Advantages of Polymer Roofing:

  • It is lighter and easier to handle, so installation is easy – much easier than clay or slate.
  • It can closely mimic the look of almost any product out there (clay, slate, asphalt shingles, shake).
  • It requires less maintenance.
  • It can last twice as long as some other products (especially materials like cedar shake).
  • It produces no granules (like asphalt shingles) to wear off into gutters or into yards.
  • It is well suited for water collection.
  • It is extremely fire resistant.
  • It makes for easy ice and snow removal, with less wear and tear.
  • Its lighter weight reduces transportation costs (less fossil fuels used).


The Future

It was reported that Motorola recently patented a display (for smartphones) that can heal its own cracked screen.  The process actually involves a material called “shape memory polymer” that can use thermal cycling to recover from deformity.  Watch the following video for a demo on shape memory polymer. 


While many of today’s roofing materials are already designed to recover from a variety of types of impact (i.e. hail), it’s possible that this new technology may further assist polymer roofing materials with restoring themselves after becoming damaged.


A Few Disadvantages

  • Currently, polymer roofing is a bit cost prohibitive. Can be 2 or 3 times the cost of other materials.
  • It has less insulation capabilities than other products.
  • It doesn’t perfectly mimic other natural products (although improvements are happening all the time).


We are finding that polymer roofing is very popular with environmentally conscious citizens, because it a great way to keep the planet green.


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