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What Is Roof Shrinkage?

[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 27, 2018 1:20:00 PM / by Krystal Coddington

Krystal Coddington

What Is Roof Shrinkage?

Roof troubles are a costly hassle. As a property owner, making wise investments in roof repair or roof replacement saves you time and money. The only way to make good roofing investments is by familiarizing yourself with the pros and cons of various roofing systems. Roof shrinkage is one under-discussed con that afflicts certain roof types.

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What Is Roof Shrinkage?

Roof shrinkage affects roofs that rely on synthetic rubber membranes most commonly ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). EPDM is a relatively sturdy rubber membrane and is often used to seal vehicles, windows, and (you guessed it) roofs. Despite its durability compared to other rubbers, EPDM naturally shrinks over time—several factors can speed up EPDM shrinkage.

EPDM is a commonly used because it is capable of protecting more vulnerable roofing materials. However, when EPDM shrinks those protected materials break; either because of the tension of shrinkage or from exposure to sun, rain, snow, etc.

Signs Your Roof Is Shrinking

The best way to keep yourself informed about your roof’s health is through regular maintenance by a roofing professional. While routine maintenance is ideal, there are a few tell tale signs of roof shrinkage. If your roof is leaking, cracked, or has visible separation deformities, they may be due to roof shrinkage.

The Causes of Roof Shrinkage: How Does EPDM Shrinkage Happen?

Roof shrinkage is a normal part of an EPDM coated roofs life cycle. Unfortunately, there are several ways to expedite shrinkage.

Improper Application

Errors made by a roofer applying an EPDM a roof can drastically reduce its lifespan.

Faulty Roof Design

When designing an EPDM roof, it is essential to take shrinkage into account. EPDM roofs will shrink, but effective roof design can compensate for some shrinkage thus extending your roof’s longevity. One common roof design element that combats shrinkage are drainage vents. Drainage vents reduce the wearing effects of moisture on EPDM roofs.

Improper Manufacturing

Manufacturing EPDM is a sensitive process. Manufacturing EPDM improperly dramatically reduces its effectiveness.

EPDM Roofing Problems and Other Membrane Roof Problems to Be Aware Of

EPDM roofs are sometimes troublesome. Roof shrinkage is not the only issue that faces EPDM and other membrane-based roofing solutions. Here are some of the most common problems that face membrane roofs.

Poor Installation

Poor installation is a common problem for all roof types. Installing a roof is an intricate process that an inexperienced roofer can easily mess up. The prevalence of shoddy roofing work is compounded because many membrane manufacturers do not require certifications from roofers to buy and install their product. If you decide to install a membrane roof, then make sure you hire a roofing expert.


Membrane-based roofing systems contain seems that will eventually leak. Whether because of roof shrinkage or some other cause, seams come apart causing leaks. While separation is inevitable, proper roof installation and maintenance can keep a membrane roof watertight for over a decade.

Required Maintenance

Membrane roofs are sensitive and require regular maintenance. All roofing systems should be maintained, but failure to maintain a membrane roof will almost certainly result in irreparable damage. Membrane roofs are cheap and sensitive. If you are committed to contracting roofing experts to care for your roof properly, then it might be the right choice for you. However, it is irresponsible to install a membrane roof unless you are fully committed to regular maintenance.

Environmental Impact

Rubber is not an environmentally friendly material. If you are concerned with minimizing your footprint, installing a membrane-based roof is not a good option for you.

EPDM and other membrane-based roofs face serious challenges. A serious issue that faces every membrane-based roof is roof shrinkage. While proper maintenance can delay shrinkage, it is an inevitability of membrane-based roofing solutions. The biggest benefit of a membrane-based roof is that it is low cost. If upfront costs are a big concern for your business, a membrane roof might seem appealing. However, it is important to remember that membrane-based roofs come with a host of issues that will cost you money down the line.

If you decide to install an EPDM roof, then it is essential to hire an experienced roofing professional for installation and maintenance. Failing to install and maintain a rubber roof properly comes with significant costs including a much sooner than expected roof replacement.

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Krystal Coddington

Written by Krystal Coddington