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PVC vs Polycarbonate Roofing: A Complete Comparison

Whether you are a contractor, a builder, a homeowner or just a curious building enthusiast, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to roofing systems. Two common roofing materials, PVC and polycarbonate, are the focus of our article today. We will compare and contract them to help you figure out the ideal choice for your specific project requirements.

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All About PVC Roofing

What is PVC?

Polyvinyl Chloride, or simply PVC roofing is a single-ply roofing solution used for commercial and industrial roofs that are flat and low-sloped. PVC roofing’s reliability and ease of use has led to it being the third most produced synthetic. 

How PVC Roofing Is Made: PVC roofing is made by the combination of PVC with a number of resin and stabilizers such as pigments and UV inhibitors in order to increase its durability. The raw material is mixed together and then extruded through a die which shapes the material in form of long continuous sheets. Upon completion of the first step, it is then passed through rollers and cooling tanks where thickness and shape is maintained. Once processing is complete, it is cut to the desirable size, and packaged, ready for distribution.

PVC roofing can be used on all kinds of buildings including commercial buildings such as warehouses and manufacturing plants, institutional buildings such as schools and prisons, residential buildings and agricultural buildings like as stables and barns.

Some Facts About PVC Roofing

Did you know that by the year 2026 the PVC roofing market is likely to have grown to about $1.9 billion and that PVC roofing usage has been growing at a rate of 3-4% per year? 

All About Polycarbonate Roofing

What Is Polycarbonate Roofing?

Polycarbonate roofing is a roofing solution with the type of roof having been made out of polycarbonate thermoplastic. This is a strong and durable roofing technique due to its high impact resistance as well as its availability in a range of colors.

How is Polycarbonate Roofing Manufactured?

Polycarbonate roofs are made by the process of extrusion where polycarbonate resins are mixed with different additives, extruded to form a continuous sheet of polycarbonate, cooled through a water bath, cut into the desired shapes and the it is cut into the desirable size and packaged, ready for distribution.

Polycarbonate roofing finds good use in greenhouses due to its excellent light transmission properties, skyscrapers due to its relative light weight, stadiums due to its natural lighting ability, among other areas.

A fact about polycarbonate roofing

Polycarbonate sheets market is forecast to hit $3.22 billion by 2026. Additionally, the usage of polycarbonate roofing has been growing at a rate of 5.1% per year.

PVC vs Polycarbonate Roofing

These two roofing techniques are major competitors in the building industry, and a number of factors are considered when trying to choose between the two:

Cost

When it comes to cost, PVC roofing is generally less expensive than polycarbonate roofing. PVC roofing typically costs between $4 to $8 per square foot, whereas polycarbonate roofing can cost between $8 to $15 per square foot.

However, keep in mind that actual costs vary depending on several factors such as the size of the roofing project, the quality of the materials used, and the location.

Durability

Polycarbonate is known for being durable. It is even used to make bullet proof glass. . Even though both are plastics, the difference lies in the fact that PVC is composed of a chloride group while polycarbonate is composed of a carbonate group which makes it tougher. PVC can also be melted by hydrofluoric acid which may cause fire break-outs whenever in use.

Polycarbonate roofing typically has a lifespan of 25-30 years and PVC general last for 20-30 years.

Installation and maintenance

PVC roofing is typically easier and faster to install than polycarbonate roofing because it is more flexible and can be bent to fit around corners and edges. It is also lighter in weight, which can make it easier to handle during installation.

Polycarbonate roofing, on the other hand, can be more challenging to install because it is more rigid and less flexible. 

PVC is flexible and light and therefore easy to install. Polycarbonate roofing, on the other hand, can be slightly more challenging to install because it is more rigid and less flexible. 

Regarding maintenance, PVC roofing may require more frequent cleaning and maintenance than polycarbonate roofing because it is more susceptible to staining and discoloration. Polycarbonate roofing is more resistant to staining and discoloration, but may require occasional replacement of sealing strips or fasteners to maintain its watertight seal.

Pros of PVC Roofing

Prevents Heat, Fire and UV Damages

Compared to other roofing techniques, PVC contains chlorine which is a flame-retardant agent that helps to cool off fire just as soon as it starts. Due to its white color, PVC reflects sun rays away from the building, hence preventing the UV rays from reaching inside the building.

Resistance to Chemicals and Oils

PVCs are resistant to acids, alkali and solvents. This means that they are well-suited to be used in manufacturing and assembly plants. Due to this property, they are also suitable for factories that involve the production of sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid.

Ability to Prevent Pest Infestation and Withstand Salty Conditions

PVC is suitable even in coastal areas where the salt concentration is high. The roofing is resistant to all forms of corrosion from rot, rust or even pest infestation.

Most Affordable Choice

PVC roofing is easily available as its cost of installation, maintenance and repair are quite low. It is also a long-term roofing strategy that would be inexpensive for businesses.

Resource Conservation

PVCs are suitable since they reduce the use of wood and steel that would otherwise have been used in the making of iron sheets.

Recyclable

PVCs can be recycled, where the old roof is taken back to the factory, remolded and then used to make athletic fields, shipping materials, picture frames, etc.

Cons of PVC roofing

Age Limit

Many times, PVC roofing can only stay up to 20 years, after which repairs would be necessary. Unluckily, it is tricky to repair older PVC and therefore replacements would be needed after a period of approximately 20 years.

Impact on Climate

PVC is not suitable to be used in cold climates because it becomes too brittle and may easily crack when walked on. The suitable temperature for PVC is between -50°C to 175°C, beyond which the roofing is rendered useless.

Release of Toxic Chemicals

When burnt, PVCs can release toxic chemicals such as dioxin which might cause reproductive and developmental issues in human.

Pros of Polycarbonate roofing

Ability to withstand extreme force

The presence of a carbonate group makes it tough which is necessary to protect the roof against extreme amounts of force.

Durability

Polycarbonate is 250 times stronger than glass. Therefore, it has a high impact resistance that can protect it from vandalism, flying debris or extreme weather.

Light transmission

Polycarbonate has a standard thickness of between 4mm-32mm depending on the intended use. This allows it to have a higher light transmission property compared to glass.

Availability in multiple colors

Polycarbonate is available in 12 different colors and therefore so many choices to choose from.

Ability to offer protection against UV Rays

A high-quality polycarbonate sheet has a UV coating that protects the sheet from direct sunlight which may cause discoloration.

Recycling

Some manufacturers would choose to buy back some of these sheets and therefore recycle them into another product.

Cons of Polycarbonate roofing

Expensive

Polycarbonate roofs are expensive as compared to other roofing techniques such as PVC. This may make property owners to choose the next available alternative over this.

Vulnerability to surface damage

Whenever hailstones scratch these surfaces, it would remain permanent thus forming a dent which would be expensive to repair.

Special cleaning solution

Any cleaning solution that contains abrasives and alkaline would damage the roof by peeling off the surface hence decreasing its lifespan.

Not environment friendly

The manufacturing process involves a lot of artificial materials that endangers the environment and which may endanger human life.

PVC vs Polycarbonate: Which One Will You Pick?

Once you find Guaranteed Enterprises, you need not look any further for a contractor to fulfill your roofing needs. We provide full roof replacement, repairs, skylights and gutter installation, among other services. 

Contact us today to get the best roof in the DFW metroplex.