Shingle vs. membrane roofs

Shingle vs. membrane roofs

Shingle vs. membrane roofs

In today’s blog post, the experts at Cambie Roofing are diving into the differences between shingle and membrane roofs. Both systems play an integral role in the roofing industry and have been used for many years to safeguard homes or commercial buildings. When it comes to shingle vs. membrane roofs, here is what to know:

Shingle roof systems are often used in residential construction and are the most popular choice among homeowners. Membrane roofs are mostly applied to commercial buildings but have gained popularity among some residential builds as well. Today we are going to explore both systems, highlight their key differences and reveal whether or not they are a good option for your next project.

Shingle roofs

Shingle roofs are the most commonly used roofing system among homeowners in North America. This is because they are extremely affordable compared to many other roofing systems. Shingles are individual pieces that overlap one another to create a functional roofing system. There are various types of shingles available on the market, including the popular asphalt, as well as wood, metal and slate.

What type of shingle you go for will depend on your budget and your aesthetic preferences. Asphalt shingles have been around since the early 20th century and have since revolutionized the roofing industry as the most affordable option for homeowners. While affordable, shingle roofs do not have the longest lifespan and are prone to needing maintenance and/or replacement sooner than other types of roofing.

Membrane roofs

Looking at membrane roofs, these systems are the most popular among commercial roofing projects. Unlike shingles, a membrane roof consists of a single layer of material that is installed and welded together in large sheets to make one continuous layer of protection. Membrane roofing systems are often made from Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) or Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO).

Predominantly used on commercial buildings, membrane roofs are a good choice if your roof is flat or has a slope of less than 14 degrees. Lots of commercial buildings have flat roofs compared to residential buildings which is why membrane roofs are not as common in the home roofing world. Membrane roofing systems are extremely durable and offer energy savings.

Key differences

There are many key differences between shingle and membrane roofs, aside from shingles being popular in sloped residential builds and membrane roofs being more popular in flat roof commercial builds.


Both shingles and membrane roofs require professionals to install them. However, when it comes to durability, shingles have a shorter lifespan. This means shingles don’t last as long as membrane roofs and require more maintenance including repairs and replacements. Typically a well-kept shingle roof can last up to 20 years and in some cases 30 years. However, membrane roofs have a way longer lifespan with averages ranging between 30 and 50 years.

Maintenance and durability

And if you live somewhere with extreme weather conditions including hail, strong winds and heavy rain, membrane roofs are very resistant. Shingle roof systems are more prone to damage from ice dams, especially if they are old. Membrane roofs typically don’t need as much upkeep either. So, if you’re looking for a long lasting roof with little maintenance, a membrane roof could be right for you as long as your roof is flat or extremely low sloped.

Cost differences

As already mentioned, the cheaper option when it comes to shingle vs. membrane roofs is shingles. They have a more affordable initial installation and the materials are also less expensive than membrane roofing materials. You will however likely be spending more money more frequently to upkeep and repair your shingles than you would with a membrane roofing system.

Environmental impacts

Shingle roofs can be found in a variety of different materials, including some that are more eco-friendly than others. Lots of the shingles on the market are made from recycled materials including rubber, plastics and wood fibers. Picking materials that have been recycled helps lower your carbon footprint. However, if you opt for the very popular asphalt shingle when choosing your roof, be aware that these are not eco-friendly. Experts suggest they can take up to 400 years to decompose.

Looking at membrane roofing systems, it also depends on what materials you choose when it comes to environmental impacts. TPO roofs can be recyclable however the production process involves many chemicals derived from fossil fuels. EPDM roofing is also recyclable and does not contain harmful plasticizers or chlorine, however it also uses fossil fuels when being produced. Lastly, PVC roofing has transformed in recent years to not include chlorine. There are far more environmentally friendly PVC roofing formulas on the market today but some membranes still use fossil fuels.

Energy efficiency

When it comes to shingles, they aren’t overly energy efficient. This is especially true if you have dark asphalt shingles, because they absorb lots of heat. So if you live in a place with warmer temperatures, your asphalt shingles could be causing your cooling costs to go up. Luckily, there are a few ways to make your shingle roof more energy efficient. This includes choosing a shingle that is light coloured such as white or light gray. These colours reflect heat and sunlight which means they will help keep the inside of your home cooler.

Another way to make an existing shingle roof more energy efficient is to add a cool roof coating. It is best to consult the professionals at Cambie Roofing before applying a cool roof coating. This will ensure the roof is in perfect condition and is clear of all debris. As for membrane roofs, they can be very energy efficient. This is thanks to the fact they reflect sunlight and in turn, lower your home’s heat absorption. Questions? Contact us today.

Final thoughts

Choosing the right roofing system for your project depends on a number of factors. This includes whether your project is residential or commercial, if your roof is flat, low sloped or sloped, your budget, aesthetic preferences, climate conditions and more. Consulting with the professionals at Cambie Roofing is the first step. We can provide you with a thorough and free estimate, along with detailed recommendations. Once we help you determine the best roof for your project, you can trust that we will install a top quality roof that will protect your home or commercial property for years to come. We hope this article helped give some insight into shingle vs. membrane roofs. Give us a call for more information!

Tags: No tags

Comments are closed.