Although rubber roof installation was once mainly for commercial buildings, residential use is expanding. This is not only because of the superior durability and integrity of rubber roofing materials, but also because of advances in installation techniques. If you are thinking about tackling the job yourself, here are your options:

Rubber roof installation using a torch 

Most rubber roof installations have required the use of a torch to melt and seal seams to form a continuous sheet of material from multiple smaller pieces.

Bitumen, which is made from asphalt traditionally use in roof shingles, is modified using rubber and chemical enhancements to create large flat sheets that are sealed into a single membrane that covers the entire roof.

This type of installation is also done using materials made from rubber or plastic synthetics, but all require the use of a burning torch.

The main benefit of this type of rubber roof insulation is that the materials are less expensive than newer materials that are less labor-intensive to install and don't require torch work.

The drawbacks of this type of installation are the requirements of use of a torch. The average homeowner that might attempt to install their own rubber roof using this method will probably not own a torch and be skilled in its use.

This lack of experience could be even more costly than imagined. In order to install any type of rubber roof membrane, your roof must be stripped down to bare plywood. An inexperienced hand using a torch on a wooden roof could result in fire.

Cement application for rubber roofing

This type of application requires no torch work, because the rubber roof membrane is installed in a single piece large enough to cover a substantial portion of the roof. It is held in place by a special adhesive designed for this purpose. Seams are overlapped and cemented together and provide the same integrity as those welded together with a torch.

It is sold in larger rolls, typically ten feet wide and either twenty-five or fifty feet long, and can be purchased, along with cement and other supplies, at local home improvement stores.

Installation still requires all old roofing materials to be stripped from the roof until only the plywood base remains. Those roof must be cleaned of dirt and debris, and temperatures should be moderate for the cement to adhere properly. Any cuts for pipes or other protrusions should be made before the cement is applied to the roof, so have everything measured and cut first.

This type of cement does better in warmer temperatures, so the cement container should be kept in a warm place until ready for use, and once the rubber membrane is applied, will usually set in around thirty minutes.

Although the material is resistant to tears and pressure from walking across it, plywood should be placed atop the membrane to minimize the chance of damage during installation. You should also look for small bubbles or air pockets and smooth them out as you progress, no matter which installation method you choose.

Rubber roof tiles

These tiles are installed with nails in overlapping rows just like asphalt tiles, but they are much lighter to transport to the roof, and more durable and less brittle than asphalt. They are also more expensive, but last far longer than asphalt tiles.

"Peel and stick" rubber roofing

This is sold in one continuous piece as cemented rubber membranes, but has cement already applied, so you just need to prepare the roof, cut the membrane as required, and peel off the paper backing.

Of course, you must pay for this convenience, and this is the most expensive option, but if you intend to install a rubber roof yourself, you might consider this your reward for stripping the roof (and cleaning up the mess afterward). Contact a company like A-1 Roofing & Siding for more information.

Share