I hear the same question over and over again; should I install a white membrane roof or black? The answer to this question is not as simple as it may sounds. There are many deciding factors that need to be weighed in order to make an educated decision. When making any big roofing decisions it is always best to consult with a roofing professional.
Let’s begin by briefly touching on cost. Cost is usually the big deciding factor on which membrane is to be installed. EPDM membrane being made of rubber is black unless coated. Coating rubber isn’t a simple process that can be done by just slapping paint on it. This process can add up to 35% per square foot. That is without taking any other factors into account such as thickness and supplier. Before ordering black or white membrane make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
The long debated heating versus cooling argument, and what does this have to do with the color of my roof? White roofs reflect more sunlight and boost the energy efficiency of air conditioning units. The flip side to that is black roofs will absorb more heat and on sunny winter days will boost the efficiency of your heating system. It comes down to the amount of heating days and the amount of cooling days. If you live in a hotter climate of course a cool roof (white) would make practical sense. What about here in the Northern Midwest? We have a fair amount of cooling days and heating days, as well as days where the ambient temperature outside doesn’t require us to heat or cool the building. So the real question may become does my location justify a white roof or black?
Does one last longer than the other? Ok, so you have decided on black or white and now you’re thinking how long can I expect my investment to last. EPDM roofing systems are typically going to include a 10, 15, 20 or in some cases 30 year warranty from the manufacturer. It is said that cool roofs last longer due to the lower surface temperature. This is accurate in some cases and in others may be a non-factor. This again will come down to the location of the building, heating and cooling days, how much direct sunlight, insulation, etc. This is another question that doesn’t have a clear cut answer. There are many variables that will affect the roofing system and its longevity.
I have briefly discussed a few of the biggest deciding factors for choosing your roof system color. Whether it is cost, efficiency, or durability, these are the basic questions to ask yourself and your contractor. The key to making the right decision is knowing the differences and having a roofing professional you can trust to guide you through the process.