What is EPDM and what are the pros and cons?

31 January 2023
Wat is EPDM en wat zijn de voor- en nadelen

EPDM is short for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, a synthetic rubber used, among other applications, as an alternative to traditional lead in construction and as an insulating material. EPDM is made of plastic, making it much more flexible and resistant to extreme weather conditions than, for example, traditional building lead.

How is EPDM made?

EPDM is obtained through the polymerization of various unsaturated hydrocarbons. This means that multiple hydrocarbons are combined to form a polymer. This material is called EPDM and has become a popular substitute for lead in recent years.

What is EPDM used for?

EPDM is a popular choice for sealing construction joints and roofing because it is lightweight and easy to install. EPDM is used in various applications, including the prefabricated installation of dormers, window frames, solar panels, as well as roof penetrations or as a sealant around chimneys.

EPDM resistant to weather conditions

EPDM is resistant to UV rays, preventing the material from discolouring or deteriorating in the sun. Temperatures ranging from -40 degrees Celsius to 120 degrees Celsius pose no obstacle to the use of this material.

Additionally, EPDM can resist basic substances such as copper oxide and ammonia, acidic liquids including natural fatty acids found in rainwater, salts, except for petroleum products. It is also resilient against ozone.

Environmentally friendly

Another advantage of EPDM is its environmental friendliness. While lead in construction may produce waste, EPDM is fully recyclable. Moreover, it has a longer lifespan than traditional lead.

What is the lifespan of EPDM?

EPDM lasts 50 years or more. In addition to being less prone to wear, EPDM has increased elasticity, enhancing air and water tightness compared to traditional construction materials. It also absorbs vibrations and associated noise caused by gusty winds.

What about the thickness of EPDM?

The thickness of EPDM is a crucial factor in determining its performance and durability in different environments. Choosing the right thickness of EPDM for a specific application requires a thorough analysis of environmental conditions, building regulations, and required performance. The thickness of EPDM membranes typically ranges from 1.0 to 2.0 millimeters, depending on the specific application. By choosing the right thickness, EPDM effectively contributes to the waterproofing, insulation, and overall reliability of roofing and facade systems in the construction sector.

What are the advantages of EPDM in roofing and facade construction?

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) offers various advantages that make it a popular choice for roofing and facade applications:

  1. Excellent Water Resistance: EPDM is renowned for its outstanding waterproofing properties. It forms a durable and watertight barrier, making it ideal for use on roofs and facades.

  2. Long Lifespan: EPDM has a proven track record of durability and a long lifespan. It can withstand weather conditions, UV radiation, and temperature fluctuations without degrading quickly.

  3. Flexibility and Elasticity: EPDM is highly flexible and elastic, allowing it to adapt to the movements and deformations of building structures. This makes it suitable for use on curved surfaces and complex architectural forms.

  4. Low Maintenance: EPDM generally requires little maintenance. It is resistant to many chemicals, making it less susceptible to damage from exposure to environmental influences.

  5. Weather Resistance: EPDM performs well under various weather conditions, including extreme temperatures, rain, hail, and snow. It retains its properties regardless of climatic conditions.

  6. Easy Installation: EPDM is often lightweight and relatively easy to install compared to some other roofing materials. This can result in lower installation costs.

  7. Fire Resistance: EPDM has inherent fire-retardant properties, making it a safe choice for roofing applications. It contributes to the overall fire safety of a building.

  8. Environmentally Friendly: Compared to some other roofing materials, EPDM has a lower environmental impact. It can be recyclable, and some manufacturers offer environmentally friendly production processes.

  9. Good Insulation Properties: EPDM can contribute to thermal insulation, making it energy-efficient and reducing heating or cooling costs for a building.

  10. Versatility: EPDM can be applied to various substrates, including concrete, wood, metal, and insulation materials. It is suitable for both flat and sloped roofs, and can also be used for facade cladding.

Overall, the combination of waterproofing, durability, flexibility, and other positive properties makes EPDM a widely used material in the construction sector.

Are there any disadvantages to EPDM?

Despite the many advantages of EPDM in roofing and facade construction, there are, of course, some disadvantages and considerations that need to be taken into account:

  1. Cost: EPDM can be more expensive compared to some other roofing materials. Although the initial costs may be high, it is often emphasized that the durability and lifespan of EPDM justify the investment.

  2. Material Sensitivity: EPDM is sensitive to certain solvents, oils, and fats. Exposure to these substances can lead to the degradation of the material. Therefore, it is important to ensure that no potentially harmful substances come into contact with the EPDM membrane.

  3. Difficult Repairs: While EPDM is generally durable, repairing minor damages can be challenging. Repairs require special adhesive connections, and often the result is not as seamless as with some other roofing materials.

  4. Environmental Impact: The production of EPDM involves some chemical processes, and the material itself is not biodegradable. There are more sustainable alternatives on the market, such as green roofs or materials with a low environmental impact.

  5. Limited Colour Options: EPDM is typically available in black or dark gray shades, which can impose limitations on aesthetic choices, especially in facade applications where color and appearance are crucial.

  6. Expansion and Contraction: Like many other roofing materials, EPDM can expand and contract due to temperature changes. This phenomenon can lead to stresses in the structure and requires proper installation to prevent issues.

While these disadvantages exist, they need to be weighed against the numerous advantages of EPDM, such as its waterproofing, durability, and flexibility. EPDM is increasingly preferred over traditional building materials.

Some EPDM items from our range

i-Form, the Building Lead Replacement made of EPDM.

i-Form offers flexibility and is easy to bend and cut into the desired shape, making it effortlessly adaptable to various constructions. Weather-resistant and UV-resistant, i-Form maintains its integrity under all weather conditions. It is temperature-resistant, meaning it sustains its performance in extreme environments. Environmentally friendly and recyclable, i-Form contributes to sustainable construction.

With a long lifespan, i-Form provides reliable protection and minimizes maintenance costs. Thanks to its easy adhesive property, installation is quick and efficient. I-Form consists of 3 layers, namely:

  1. A top layer made of EPDM rubber

  2. An intermediate layer of specially designed aluminium expanded metal

  3. A bottom layer of EPDM rubber with a protective film

As we manufacture this alternative building lead variant ourselves, the dimensions, color, and finish can be customized to the specific requirements of the application.

IPEX Group - Specialist in EPDM for Roofing and Facade Construction

In summary, EPDM offers significant advantages over traditional building materials. With over 25 years of experience in customized solutions for roofing and facade attachments, we understand better than anyone which products are most suitable for your specific project. Our team is ready to contribute to the successful completion of your assignment. If you have any questions about colour choices for screws, blind rivets, pop rivets, or rivets, feel free to contact our advisors. Please fill out the contact form without any obligation, or email info@ipex-group.com. We are here to assist you.

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