5 Mar

Black or White: Which is the Better EPDM Roof?

house roofMany people decide to get rubber EPDM roofing based on the advantages it claims to have over other roofing materials. But, they only discover that they need to choose between black EPDM and white EPDM when the salesperson asks them, which opens an entirely different assortment of problems.

Colour is Roof Deep

So, what’s the difference between white and black EPDM? Black EPDM such as Classicbond has oils and polymers that give it added resistance to UV radiation. The difference in colour comes from the different materials used to make that resistance possible.

In the case of black EPDM, carbon black is the additive used, while titanium dioxide goes into white EPDM. Both materials act in similar fashion, so why are there two different kinds? The only reason seems to be aesthetics.

People have criticised EPDM rubber since its inception for being too monochromatic, disallowing a variety of style choices for the discriminating designer. Providing the choice of either white or black seems to be a bland solution, but it takes a lot of imagination to implement a design application that actually improves the function of the product being designed.

The Black v. White Heat Argument

Some people will undoubtedly argue that the colour difference involves much more than just aesthetic taste; particularly saving energy. The argument proposes that black EPDM rubber is better than white because it can retain heat during the winter months due to its colour. Other than EPDM manufacturers not claiming this at all, the entire argument doesn’t hold much water when one stops to consider the conditions that need to be met in order for the argument to make sense.

First, the days during the winter months in the UK are shorter, allowing less time for the rubber to ‘absorb heat’. Second, the sun hits the roof at angles that don’t stay long enough to produce a significant amount of heat, much less retain it. Lastly, EPDM rubber roofs have a coating consisting of additive chemicals that resist extreme temperatures, not retain them.

There is virtually no difference between white and black EPDM rubber roofs. The only questions of performance lie with the skill of the roof’s manufacturers and installers. So, don’t ask yourself if you should get a black or white EPDM roof; instead, ask whether the people you bought the product from is any good.