Rubber Roofing in Massachusetts

The scoop, and the pros and cons of rubber roofs in the Bay State area

Rubber roofing systems, such as EPDM or TPO, are popular choices for commercial buildings in the Boston and Massachusetts area thanks to their cost-effectiveness, durability, and resistance to severe conditions. Many people ask if rubber roofs are only for commercial buildings. The answer is no. 

These systems have the same high-performance benefits for low-slope residential roofs, decks, flat dormers, or flat-topped garages.

There are many reasons why a rubber roof may be right for your Boston-area home, but there are some drawbacks to consider. Your roof is a significant investment, and knowing the pros and cons will help you make an informed decision.

Below is a list of benefits and downsides to rubber roofs in New England.

rubber roofing membrane being installed by golden group roofing

What are the benefits of rubber roofing for your home?

1. They provide durability and longevity.

There are many reasons why a rubber roof may be right for your Boston-area home, but there are some drawbacks to consider. Your roof is a significant investment, and knowing the pros and cons will help you make an informed decision.

2. A rubber roof is weather-resistant.

Rubber roof membranes are specifically engineered to hold up against all types of weather conditions, such as those we experience in Boston, including hail storms, high winds, lightning strikes, torrential downpours, and even falling tree limbs.

3. It’s a quick installation for rubber membranes.

A rubber roof can be installed more quickly than many other roofing systems, such as asphalt shingle roofs. That said, installation will take a bit longer or cost more if there are areas where the roof buts up against vertical structures—such as railings or skylights—that require flashing to prevent leaks. 

4. Rubber membranes for your roof are fire-retardant.

Fire hazard is a major risk factor when choosing roofing materials. Rubber roofing is highly flame-retardant, helping to delay the spread of flames during a structural fire and resist catching fire from a nearby structure. 

5. There’s no moss and algae growth with rubber roofs.

The materials used in rubber roofing prevent the growth of moss and algae, which can retain moisture, rot wood, lift shingles, or cause leaks over time. This is a common problem in asphalt shingles, often requiring professional cleaning and removal, adding to maintenance costs.  

6. They provide fairly easy maintenance.

Rolling long strips of rubber material across the roof decking produces many fewer leak points than attaching individual shingles. Using wider rolls can further reduce potential leaking points along the seams. Rubber roofs are vulnerable to punctures but are relatively easy to patch. Together, these factors lower maintenance and repair costs over the roof’s lifespan.

7. They are cost-effective for Massachusetts homeowners. 

Rubber roofing may cost significantly more to install than asphalt shingles. At the same time, the reduced maintenance, high longevity, easy installation, and energy efficiency make it an affordable solution for homeowners in the long run.

rubber roofing installed by golden group roofing

What are the disadvantages of rubber roofing for your Massachusetts home?

1. Black rubber doesn’t have great appearance on your roof

Black across the rooftop looks industrial and not very aesthetically pleasing. Over time, it can appear dirty from long-term accumulation of dirt, dust, and other debris, but regular cleaning can overcome this issue. Some manufacturers produce rubber roofing strips that resemble standard shingles to enhance the look, plus owners can cover the membrane with a wood deck, outdoor carpet, or Astroturf.

2. They can shrink over time.

Shrinkage is one of their most common problems. Ongoing exposure to the elements, foot traffic, and other causes of deterioration can shrink the material. As a result, seams can separate and pull away from parapet walls, penetrations, flashings, and other areas where water can penetrate the decking. Proper design, installation, and maintenance can reduce the shrinkage process.

3. Rubber roofs absorb heat.

The dark color can cause heat pooling, accelerate shrinkage, and drive up cooling costs. Intense daytime heat followed by rapid nighttime cooling also causes the rubber to expand and contract, increasing deterioration and shortening its longevity.  Roofers can install lighter, more UV-reflective colors to decrease this shortcoming.

4. They can potentially be punctured if not treated properly over time.

They are relatively vulnerable to punctures caused by sharp items landing on them, such as a nail or high heel shoes. This can also happen if there is bad weather, and weather in the New England area can be quite unpredictable at times. 

5. Rubber cannot hold a lot of weight or load on the roof, which is not good in Massachusetts. 

A typical rubber roof is not designed to support the weight of continual foot traffic or the construction of other structures–such as a balcony or deck–on top of it. Roofers can take steps to fortify the roof for greater load bearing. If not correctly strengthened, though, high foot traffic, weight, or the continuous pull of gravity can cause seams to pull and open up.

6. Rubber on your roof can have seam issues over time.

While seams on these roofs are quite strong, the bonding adhesive tends to dry out or weaken, possibly causing gaps. They must have regular inspections and servicing to adjust the seams and prevent them from pulling apart.

7. Temperature and proper installation affect roofing construction. 

Proper installation requires a temperature of at least 65 degrees. Cooler weather doesn’t allow the adhesive to bind the rubber, leading to lifting and failing. Another option for homeowners is using a low-slope self-adhering, cap and sheet roofing system like LIBERTY™ SBS Self-Adhering cap sheet or base/ply Sheet.

Questions about the right choice for your roof?

There’s no reason why Boston area  homeowners who have a flat or low slope shouldn’t consider a rubber roof. In fact, there are many benefits, especially in terms of durability, low maintenance, and long-term affordability. When properly installed and maintained, they can be a great investment in your home.

If you think a rubber roof may be a good choice, get all the information you need. Call the experts at Golden Group Roofing to discuss your options at 508-873-1884. Our high-quality installation, maintenance, and repair services will ensure you remain warm and dry for decades to come.