epdm commercial university roof drone craneWhen it comes to commercial roofing, it can sometimes sound like we just dipped a spoon in a bowl of alphabet soup and are just reading off what’s in it. There are a lot of abbreviations and terms to keep straight that can just roll off a roofer’s tongue without even thinking — so we wanted to put together a handy little guide to help decipher what the heck your roofing specialist is talking about!


TPO: Thermoplastic polyolefin (now why didn’t you know that one?).
One of the most popular low-slope single-ply systems, it’s an eco-friendly product that can help lower building operating costs. Our favorite aspect of the TPO system is that the seams in the material are heat welded together so that you no longer have a seam, but one seamless membrane.

EPDM: Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (we swear we aren’t making this up).
One of the most common single-ply roof systems on commercial low-slope roofs, it’s an extremely durable synthetic rubber roofing membrane. EPDM has a proven track record of lasting power with strong system warranties to back it up.

PVC: Polyvinyl chloride (maybe you knew this one).
PVC roofing has been around for a long time and has many benefits. It’s great for restaurant roofs that are going to have a lot of grease or other spillage on it, and comes in white reflective color to make it eco-friendly.

BUR: Built-up roofing (finally one with real words!).
A continuous, semi-flexible roof covering consisting of laminations or plies of saturated or coated felts, alternated with layers of bitumen. It’s surfaced with a granule roofing sheet, mineral aggregate, or bituminous materials.

Bitumen (not an abbreviation but not something people who aren’t on a roof every day would know)
A generic term for asphalt or coal tar pitch roofing. You might also see modified bitumen, which is asphalt with the addition of polymer modifiers to increase cold temperature flexibility and warm temperature flow resistance and stability.

So there you have it — a crash course to a few common commercial roofing terms that will make you sound like an expert. Have any other questions? Need any other terms defined? Whether it’s a trivia championship or an architectural plan on the line, White Castle Roofing is always happy to help with the answers you need. Just contact us today!