People referred to Robert Fulton’s first steamship, The Clermont, as “Fulton’s Folly” because they figured it would explode or sink.   It is apparently human nature to dismiss new things as stupid or laughable without looking closely at their merits or potential merits. The internet was met with widespread ridicule when it first appeared, and believe it or not, so too was television at its inception.

What is TPO?

TPO (single ply) roofing, although not as dramatic as television or the internet, is an advancement in the roofing industry worthy of mention.  TPO is a type of roofing material that is simply a single layer of plastics, rubber and fillers combined to make a durable, reflective roof that will outlast traditional flat roofs by a factor of three. It is also 100% recyclable and safe to install. It outclasses hot-tar roofing completely, and thus, a

significant advancement in the housing and building industry.

Apartment owners can re-roof their flat roofs with TPO and for all intents and purposes, forget about it, as it will out-last most of them – (50 years).  It is also extremely light compared to traditional flat roofs and so can be put right over the existing roofing with no warranty restrictions minimizing landfill tonnage, costs, and maximizing insulation value.

Hot Tar Drawbacks

Most hot tar roofers I know have hot tar scars in various places, usually their arms and hands and although comparing scars over a 24 pack of beer is fun, I’m sure they would all rather be laughing about something else with clean hands and arms, and no trauma resulting from the burn incident, which would be the case had they been working with TPO instead. I used to think that burns and roofing simply went together (25 years experience) and that if you were a hot tar roofer you would have been burned at least a few times and if you were lucky, they were not so noticeable.

But after working with the single ply, I am happy to say that that is not the case and that those burns will no longer occur for any of my workers. This, however, is not the case for a great many workers still using the hot tar and I’m afraid that hospitals will continue to see hot tar burn victims come through their emergency room doors despite the fact that it is no longer necessary.

Why then would people try to impede the progress of something that is an obvious advance? Well some people are unacquainted with the single ply and just trust the old tried and true. Many hot tar roofers, who are trained and veterans in its application, have thousands of dollars invested in equipment and simply do not wish to make a change – thus shun the single ply promoting it as folly. However, every hot tar roofer that I have introduced TPO to has breathed a sigh of relief and thanked the heavens, or should I say the single ply manufacturers, for this new type of roofing.

I am not a salesman for single ply roofing. I am simply a roofing contractor with some experience in the field writing this article to shed some light on an exciting advance that in a very short time, I’m sure, will be over your head!

Tommy Scherer is the owner of T & G Roofing. For questions or a free quote, please call 818-459-0702.

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