Is Roofing Plastic? (Addressing All the Pros and Cons)

A lot of people have been confused about roofing plastic for a long time. What exactly is roofing plastic? Is it the same as roofing shingles? Is it something you can put on your own roof?

This article will answer those questions and more, so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to use roofing plastic on your home.

Is roofing plastic?

Roofing materials can be made of a variety of materials, including plastic. Plastic roofing materials can be made from materials such as polycarbonate, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and acrylics.

These materials are often chosen for their durability, lightweight, and resistance to weathering. However, there are also many other types of roofing materials available, including metal, asphalt shingles, slate, and more.

Roofing plastic is a type of roofing material made from synthetic polymers, which are derived from petrochemicals. There are several types of plastic roofing materials available, including polycarbonate, PVC, and acrylics.

What is roof plastic available as?

Plastic roofing can refer to several types of roofing materials that are made from synthetic polymers. Some common types of plastic roofing include:

  • Polycarbonate roofing: This type of roofing is made from a strong thermoplastic material called polycarbonate. It is highly impact-resistant, lightweight, and can transmit natural light, making it a popular choice for both residential and commercial roofing applications.
  • PVC roofing: PVC (polyvinyl chloride) roofing is made from a plastic polymer that is highly resistant to weathering and chemical damage. It is also lightweight and easy to install, making it a popular choice for flat and low-slope roofing applications.
  • Acrylic roofing: Acrylic roofing materials are made from a plastic polymer that is highly resistant to impact and weathering. It can also withstand extreme temperatures and UV radiation, making it an ideal choice for outdoor applications.
  • Synthetic rubber roofing: Synthetic rubber roofing materials, such as EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) are made from a plastic polymer that is highly durable and resistant to weathering, making it a good choice for flat and low-slope roofing applications.

Polycarbonate roofing is a popular choice for roofs because it is strong, doesn’t break when hit, and lets light through. It is also lightweight, making it easy to install and transport.

Polycarbonate roofing comes in many different colors and styles, which makes it a good choice for both residential and commercial roofing.

PVC roofing is another type of plastic roofing material that is known for its resistance to weathering and chemical damage.

It is also lightweight and easy to install, making it a popular choice for flat and low-slope roofing applications.

Acrylic roofing materials are another type of plastic roofing that is known for its impact resistance and ability to withstand extreme temperatures.

It is also very resistant to UV light and other things that cause weathering, which makes it a great choice for outdoor uses.

In fact, plastic is becoming more and more popular as a roofing material, especially for low-slope and flat roofs. However, there are several reasons why it may not be as popular as other roofing materials in some cases:

  • Appearance: While plastic roofing materials can be made in a variety of colors and designs, some people may not like the look of plastic roofs and prefer the appearance of other materials like metal or tile.
  • Longevity: While plastic roofing materials can be durable and long-lasting, they may not last as long as some other roofing materials such as metal or tile, which can have lifetimes of 50 years or more.
  • Environmental concerns: Plastic roofing materials are typically made from petrochemicals, which are non-renewable resources. Some people may prefer to use more sustainable roofing materials like metal or natural slate.
  • Fire resistance: Some plastic roofing materials may not be as fire-resistant as other materials, which can be a concern in areas prone to wildfires or where fire codes are strict.

Table: Benefits and disadvantages of roofing plastic

Benefits of plastic roofingDisadvantages of plastic roofing
Lightweight and easy to installNot as visually appealing as some traditional roofing materials
Durable and long-lasting, with some materials having a lifespan of 20-30 years or moreCan be more expensive than some traditional roofing materials
Low maintenance requirements, with some materials requiring little to no maintenance across their lifetimeCan be prone to cracking or damage in extreme temperatures or severe weather conditions
Some materials are highly reflective and can help to reduce energy costs for coolingMay not provide as much insulation as some traditional roofing materials
Can be made from recycled materials, reducing waste and conserving natural resourcesSome types of plastic roofing materials may have negative environmental impacts during production or disposal
Resistant to rot, rust, and corrosionSome materials may not be suitable for use in all climates or environmental conditions
Can be fire-resistant or self-extinguishing, improving safety in case of fire 
This table gives a brief summary of the main pros and cons of plastic roofing. The pros include durability, low maintenance needs, and a low impact on the environment. The cons include cost and concerns about how the roof looks.

What are the benefits of using roofing plastic?

There are several benefits to using roofing plastic as a roofing material, including:

  1. Lightweight: Plastic roofing materials are typically much lighter than other roofing materials such as metal, tile, or slate. This can make them easier and less expensive to install, and can also reduce the weight load on a building’s structure.
  2. Durable: Plastic roofing materials are highly resistant to damage from the elements, such as rain, snow, wind, and hail. They can also be resistant to chemicals and UV radiation, which can cause other types of roofing materials to degrade over time.
  3. Low-maintenance: Plastic roofing materials require very little maintenance, making them a good choice for homeowners or building owners who want a low-maintenance roofing solution.
  4. Cost-effective: Plastic roofing materials are typically less expensive than other roofing materials, such as metal or slate, making them a cost-effective option for many roofing applications.
  5. Versatile: Plastic roofing materials come in a variety of colors and designs, making them a versatile option for both residential and commercial roofing applications. They can also be used for a variety of roofing styles, including flat, low-slope, and curved roofs.
  6. Energy-efficient: Some types of plastic roofing materials, such as polycarbonate, can transmit natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting and lowering energy costs.

What are the disadvantages of using roofing plastic?

There are some pros to using roofing plastic, but there are also some possible cons to think about, such as:

  1. Flammability: Some plastic roofing materials may be more flammable than other roofing materials, which can be a concern in areas with a high risk of wildfires or where fire codes are strict.
  2. Durability: While plastic roofing materials can be durable, they may not last as long as other roofing materials such as metal or tile, which can have lifetimes of 50 years or more.
  3. Environmental concerns: Plastic roofing materials are typically made from petrochemicals, which are non-renewable resources. Some people may prefer to use more sustainable roofing materials like metal or natural slate.
  4. Heat absorption: Some types of plastic roofing materials, such as PVC, can absorb heat, leading to increased energy costs for cooling the building.
  5. Noise: Plastic roofing materials can be noisy during rainstorms, which can be a concern for homeowners or building occupants.
  6. Appearance: While plastic roofing materials can come in a variety of colors and designs, some people may not like the appearance of plastic roofs and prefer the look of other materials like metal or tile.

How to install plastic roofing

Roofing MaterialAdvantagesDisadvantages
Plastic roofing (polycarbonate, PVC, acrylic, synthetic rubber)Lightweight, low-maintenance, cost-effective, energy-efficientMay not be as durable or fire-resistant as other materials, potential for noise during rainstorms, may not have the same aesthetic appeal as other materials
Metal roofingHighly durable, fire-resistant, long-lastingHeavy, expensive, may require maintenance over time
Asphalt shinglesAffordable, easy to installMay not be as durable as other materials, may need to be replaced more frequently
Clay or concrete tilesHighly durable, fire-resistant, long-lastingHeavy, expensive, may require additional support for building structure
Natural slateHighly durable, fire-resistant, long-lasting, aesthetically pleasingExpensive, heavy, may require additional support for building structure
This table helps you compare the differences between plastic roofing materials against all the other popular roofing materials on the market
  • Metal roofing: Metal roofing is highly durable, fire-resistant, and can last for several decades. However, it can be heavy and expensive, and may require maintenance over time. In comparison, plastic roofing is lightweight, low-maintenance, and cost-effective, but may not be as durable or fire-resistant as metal roofing.
  • Asphalt shingles: Asphalt shingles are a popular choice for residential roofing due to their affordability and ease of installation. However, they may not be as durable as other roofing materials and may need to be replaced more frequently. In comparison, plastic roofing can be more durable and low-maintenance, but may not have the same aesthetic appeal as asphalt shingles.
  • Clay or concrete tiles: Clay and concrete tiles are highly durable and fire-resistant, and can last for several decades. However, they can be heavy and expensive, and may require additional support for the building structure. In comparison, plastic roofing is lightweight and cost-effective, but may not offer the same level of durability or fire-resistance as tile roofing.
  • Natural slate: Natural slate roofing is highly durable and fire-resistant, and can last for several decades. However, it is also expensive and heavy, and may require additional support for the building structure. In comparison, plastic roofing is lightweight and cost-effective, but may not offer the same aesthetic appeal or durability as natural slate roofing.

What makes plastic roofing durable?

Plastic roofing is designed to be resistant to weathering and UV radiation, which can cause damage and degradation over time.

Some plastic roofing materials, like polycarbonate and acrylic, are designed to be strong and not crack or break easily when hit.

Other materials, like PVC and synthetic rubber, are made to be flexible and able to withstand extreme temperatures without becoming brittle or cracking.

Also, plastic roofing materials can be coated or treated with special additives that make them more durable and resistant to weathering, UV radiation, and other environmental factors.

These additives can include UV stabilizers, fire retardants, and anti-static agents, among others.

Are there any maintenance requirements for plastic roofing?

Compared to other roofing materials, plastic roofing usually doesn’t need as much maintenance. However, there are still some basic maintenance tasks that can help the roof last longer and keep working.

One important maintenance task for plastic roofing is to keep it clean and free of debris.

This can be done by using a soft-bristled brush or broom to sweep off any leaves, twigs, or other debris that may accumulate on the roof.

It’s also a good idea to periodically clean the roof with a mild detergent and water to remove any dirt, dust, or stains that may build up over time.

Another important maintenance task is to inspect the roof periodically for any signs of damage, such as cracks, leaks, or missing panels.

If any damage is found, it should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the roof or the underlying structure.

Make sure to follow any maintenance instructions that the company that made the plastic roofing material gives you.

In these rules, there may be advice on how to clean and take care of the material, as well as any special care requirements or restrictions.

Does plastic roofing provide insulation protection?

Depending on the material used and how the roof is put together, plastic roofing can provide some level of insulation.

Some plastic roofing materials, such as polycarbonate and acrylic, have good insulating properties and can help reduce heat transfer through the roof.

This can be especially beneficial in warmer climates, where reducing heat gain can help lower cooling costs.

However, other plastic roofing materials, such as PVC and synthetic rubber, may not provide as much insulation as other materials.

In these situations, the roof system may need more insulation to get the level of thermal protection that is needed.

It’s also important to keep in mind that plastic roofing may not offer as much insulation as other materials, like rigid board or foam insulation.

Is plastic roofing energy-efficient?

Depending on the material used and how the roof is put together, plastic roofing can be energy efficient.

Some plastic roofing materials, such as polycarbonate and acrylic, have good insulating properties and can help reduce heat transfer through the roof.

This can help reduce the amount of energy needed to cool the building, especially in warmer climates.

Some plastic roofing materials, such as PVC and synthetic rubber, are highly reflective and can help reduce heat gain by reflecting sunlight away from the roof.

This can further improve the energy efficiency of the building by reducing the amount of energy needed to cool the interior.

The energy efficiency of plastic roofing can vary depending on how it’s used and other things like the climate, how the building is built, and whether or not extra insulation is used.

So, it’s important to work with a qualified professional to make sure that your roofing system is designed and installed in the right way to save the most energy.

How much does plastic roofing cost?

The average cost of installation for a composite plastic shingle roof or plastic roof sheet is between $25,000 and $50,000, depending on the size and pitch of the roof.

This works out to be approximately $4 to $6 per square foot, or $400 to $600 per square, which is the equivalent of a 10-foot by 10-foot area.

It’s important to note that plastic roof tiles can be one of the more expensive types of tile, but they also offer many benefits, such as little to no maintenance across their lifetime.

The cost of plastic roof tiles can vary depending on the specific type and brand, as well as the size and slope of the roof.

How easy is it to install plastic roofing?

Depending on the type of plastic used and how the roofing system is made, plastic roofing can be pretty easy to put on.

In general, plastic roofing materials are lightweight and easy to handle, which can make installation simpler and faster than with heavier roofing materials.

Some types of plastic roofing, like PVC and polycarbonate, can be put on using standard roofing methods, like nailing or screwing the material into place.

Other types of plastic roofing, such as synthetic rubber, may require more specialized installation techniques.

How long do plastic roofs last?

Plastic roofing materials such as polycarbonate and PVC can have a lifespan of 20–30 years or more with proper maintenance and care.

Synthetic rubber roofing materials can also last a long time. Some manufacturers offer warranties of up to 50 years.

It’s important to remember that a plastic roof’s lifespan can be affected by a number of things, such as exposure to UV rays, extreme temperatures, and rough weather.

Regular maintenance and inspections can help identify potential issues and extend the lifespan of the roofing system.

What type of warranty comes with plastic roofing?

The type of warranty that comes with plastic roofing can vary depending on the specific manufacturer and product. Some manufacturers offer warranties of 20–50 years or more for their plastic roofing materials, while others may offer shorter warranties or none at all.

The warranty terms can also change depending on the type of plastic roofing material used. Some materials are more durable and last longer, so they can offer better warranties than others.

Are there any environmental benefits to using plastic roofing?

Using plastic roofing materials can be good for the environment in a few different ways, depending on the type of material and how it is used.

Some types of plastic roofing materials can be made from recycled materials, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and conserving natural resources.

Also, some plastic roofing materials, like PVC and synthetic rubber, are very reflective and can help reduce the amount of heat a building absorbs, which means less energy is needed to cool the building.

This can help reduce the carbon footprint of the building and contribute to energy savings over the life of the roofing system.

Also, some plastic roofing materials are made to be long-lasting, which means they last longer and need to be replaced less often than traditional roofing materials.

This can result in fewer materials being used and less waste being generated over time.

But not all plastic roofing materials are good for the environment, and some may hurt the environment when they are made or thrown away.

As with any building material, it’s important to consider the full life cycle of the product and its environmental impacts when making a decision about its use.

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Logan
Author: Logan

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