The Commercial Roofing Decoder Ring


If the average Joe were to listen to two pros talking about commercial roofing, he might think they were pulling random letters out of a Scrabble bag. TPO, EPDM and BUR, these acronyms aren’t just random combinations of letters, they actually mean something.

To help you understand the lingo, we put together this handy guide to decipher commercial roofing terms and acronyms.

BUR- Built-up Roofing

We started with an easy one. Commonly referred to as a tar and gravel roof, a BUR roof is made up of alternating sheets of coated felts and of bitumen. This kind of roof is semi-flexible and continuous.

TPO- Thermoplastic Polyolefin

A little harder to pronounce, but you can do it. TPOs are single-ply, low-slope, seamless roofs. This style of roof is growing in popularity because it is eco-friendly and energy efficient.

PVC- Polyvinyl Chloride

This might sound familiar if you spend some time in the plumbing aisle at Lowe’s. PVC isn’t just good for pipes, it can make a heck of a roof too. These babies are reflective, chemical resistant, easily recycled, and flexible.

Bitumen- No abbreviation, just a weird word

The term bitumen is a just a fancy roofing word for asphalt or tar pitch roof. Using a hot application ensures a perfect seamless roof and maintenance for these is fairly easy.

EPDM- Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer

Try saying that five times fast. EPDMs are synthetic rubber roof membrane made of ethylene and propylene. Known for their durability, EPDMs are a great choice for any low-slope commercial roof.

There are always pros and cons to each style, and the kinds of structure will play a big part in the selection process. Our roofing experts can help you find the best option for any kind of commercial structure.