What is PVC Roofing?
PVC roofing (PolyVinyl Chloride) is a single-ply roofing system primarily found on flat or low-sloped commercial/industrial roofs. PVC membranes fall into a broader category of thermoplastic membranes. PVC roofing systems originated in 1966 from a German company called Trocal. While Trocal was the first to market, their systems were plagued with problems that modern formulas like those created by Duro-Last® don’t experience.
The Trocal Roofing System was extremely popular in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but proved costly when it began to fail prematurely due to plasticizer loss. Once PVC plasticizer evaporates, the membrane becomes brittle and shrinks, causing failure in multiple ways.
Trocal PVC Roofing Problems:
Shrinking (and Brittle)
As this obsolete PVC roofing material shrinks and becomes tighter, it pulls on the edge detail and either pulls itself off of the edge of the building, or fails under its own force and shatters. Many roofs exhibit this type of failure.
Outdated PVC membrane shrinkage often pulls the material away from the edges causing “tenting” along the walls. The force of the shrinking material can even cause the top course (row) of block to become broken and dislodged.
Discoloration and a distinct change in the texture of this PVC roof membrane provide evidence of complete plasticizer loss. When this occurs, the material pulls very tight on the fixed points of the roof and eventually results in a catastrophic failure.
Roof penetration flashings, most notably the corners, are frequently made from a much weaker material that can be easily bent around a corner.
As the Trocal system shrinks, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the fixed points, such as HVAC units, and easily pulls the corners apart. Many unit and pipe flashings fail in this way.
Some installations of a PVC roof membrane involve a ballast weight such as river rock. Suspected leaks on a ballasted roof can be difficult to locate. With ballasted PVC roof repairs, removing ballast to locate the leak runs a risk of causing additional leaks.
Over the years, freeze/thaw cycles frequently caused the once smooth river rock to break into jagged, sharp blades. The weight from snow and foot traffic can push these sharp rocks into the Trocal membranes and cause punctures.
For these reasons, roof ballast is best positioned as the method of last resort for membranes. When mechanical fasteners or adhesives are not possible, then it is best suited.
After a Trocal PVC failure
We’ve helped numerous customers that had painful experiences with Trocal PVC roofing that’s failed. We understand the frustrations and fears associated with the failures.
Some customers are apprehensive about trying a PVC roofing solution after having a painful experience with a failed Trocal PVC membrane. Plenty of customers felt this way. What they found was that Trocal didn’t have the technology and chemistry right to prevent plasticizer loss when their roof was installed.
Process and technology have changed in the 21st century. While Duro-Last® has best-in-class warranties starting at 15 years, we have roofs that are 25+ years old that are still performing well with regular maintenance.
Our Best Recommendation
For a permanent, warranted solution, we recommend installing a complete mechanically-fastened Springfield SmartRoof™ System. SmartRoof™ utilizes custom-fabricated Duro-Last® PVC roofing far superior to the problematic Trocal systems, and even other modern PVC systems. Duro-Last® PVC is formulated and tested to withstand harsh sunlight without losing its plasticizer.
The Springfield SmartRoof™ System is entirely maintenance free.* Certified Springfield technicians will install this system, and completed in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. It will be 100% inspected by the Springfield Team, and then by an inspector from the manufacturer. The manufacturer will then award a full 20-year warranty, which is the best on the market.
*Annual inspections and debris removal are recommended and included at no charge for the first two years of your roof’s life. These inspections help us track the performance of your roofing system and also keep abreast of any new developments that could occur over time. Please contact your Project Manager to schedule your inspections.