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Building Science FAQ — Ep. 2

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How Chemical Resistant are TPO and PVC?

Welcome to Episode 2 of The Building Science FAQ series.

The Building Science FAQ video series explores some of the technical questions that crop up when specifying a low-slope roof. In this episode, Tom Taylor PhD, Executive Director, Research and Development for GAF, and James Willits, GAF Building and Roofing Science Specialist, discuss the chemical resistance properties of TPO and PVC. They also present some valuable tips for avoiding or minimizing the damage chemicals can do to your roof.


Watch Episode 1: How Strong is a Thermoplastic Weld? 

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  1. Nathan Light

    I would like to know the best membrane roofing for wastewater treatment plants. The atmosphere at these plants have, in general, SO2 (sulfur dioxide/sulfuric acid). Often there are separate buildings for chlorine and ammonia injection. Usually the chlorine and/or ammonia should not leak and get on the roof. So, what is the best roofing for sulfuric acid in the atmosphere; and which is the best for the occasional exposure to chlorine or ammonia?

    • Thomas J Taylor, PhD

      Hi Nathan – you’re describing an interesting situation. If you really think that there might be an acidic condition on the roof, then TPO would not be the first choice. Acids (in the form of liquids on the roof, not just vapor in the general area) degrade the UV stabilizers that are used by manufacturers of these membranes. This is true even for quite dilute acids. Occasional exposure to ammonia would not affect TPO but chlorine resistance would depend on the amount and time. I would steer you towards considering a PVC-KEE sheet for this application, if there really might be chemicals on the roof (and not just gasses in the area).
      Take care, Tom

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