PVC vs Polycarbonate Roof Panels

PVC vs Polycarbonate Roof Panels

Every building has its unique characteristics, and your budget also plays a significant role in determining the best option.

That’s why it’s crucial to work with a reputable local roofing contractor who can assess your specific needs and recommend the most suitable material.

Now, let’s talk about polycarbonate roof panels first.

Key Takeaways

  • Polycarbonate roof panels are lightweight, nearly unbreakable, UV-resistant, and affordable, but can scratch easily.
  • PVC roofing is durable, strong, long-lasting, resistant to various elements, and eco-friendly, but can be expensive and struggle in very cold temperatures.
  • Your choice between these two materials will depend on your specific needs, budget, and the climate in your area.
  • Work with a reputable local roofing contractor who can assess your situation and recommend the best option.

Polycarbonate Roof Panels: The Tough and Lightweight Contender

Polycarbonate is an exceptionally strong and resilient thermoplastic with impressive impact strength and broad utility as a durable roofing panel. In fact, it’s one of the fastest-growing choices for commercial roofing products, especially for low-slope and flat roofs.

Here’s why polycarbonate roof panels are a popular choice:

  • High-quality: These panels are built to last.
  • Nearly unbreakable: Polycarbonate roofing can withstand extreme force. The material is so durable that bullet-resistant types are used in police shields.
  • UV-resistant: With impressive UV-blocking characteristics, polycarbonate is especially useful for awnings and sunroom roofing.
  • Lightweight: Polycarbonate panels are relatively easy to install and transport almost anywhere.
  • Temperature resistant: Resistant to very hot and cold temperatures, polycarbonate holds up exceptionally well to rain, snow, and hail.
  • Long-lasting color: The panels last for years without fading or discoloration.
  • Affordable: Polycarbonate is a cost-effective option compared to other roofing materials.

Now, let’s talk about the potential drawbacks of polycarbonate roof panels:

  • Scratches easily: Despite being highly resistant to breaking and cracking, the material can accumulate abrasions, making the surface look old and dull over time. In some instances, an anti-scratch coating is added to help the surface hold up against scratches.

PVC Roofing: The Durable and Eco-Friendly Choice

PVC Roofing

An acronym for polyvinyl chloride, PVC is made of chlorine and ethylene, which are derived from processed natural gas or petroleum and salt respectively. The roofing material can be installed mechanically with plates and screws or fully adhered with a sticky bonding adhesive.

Here’s why PVC roofing is a popular choice for commercial buildings:

  • Durability: PVC roofing is built to last and can withstand harsh conditions.
  • Strength: Highly resistant to punctures and tears, PVC holds up quite well against oil and grease.
  • Long service life: PVC roofing has a life expectancy of around 20 to 30 years.
  • Fire, wind, moisture, and chemical resistance: PVC is resistant to a variety of elements that can damage other roofing materials.
  • Eco-friendly: PVC roofing is a relatively eco-friendly option, as it can be recycled and reused.
  • Water-resistant: PVC is an excellent choice for areas with high precipitation levels.
  • Variety of colors and thicknesses: The material is available in a variety of colors and thicknesses, giving consumers a nice array of options.
  • Easy to repair: If damage does occur, PVC roofing is relatively easy to repair.

Now, let’s talk about the potential drawbacks of PVC roofing:

  • Cost: PVC roofing can be pricey, costing anywhere from $6 to $9.50 per square foot for a 50 mil membrane installed over a flat or low-slope roof on a one- or two-story structure.
  • Installation: To install PVC roofing, a contractor may need to remove the old roof on your structure, since the PVC needs a clean, flat surface to properly adhere. This added work can increase labor costs.
  • Cold temperatures: PVC tends to struggle in very cold environments, becoming brittle outside the temperature range of -58°F (-50°C) to 347°F (175°C).


Which roofing material is more energy-efficient?

Both polycarbonate and PVC roofing can be energy-efficient options. Polycarbonate’s UV-blocking properties can help reduce cooling costs, while highly reflective PVC roofing can also help keep buildings cooler in warm climates.

How long do polycarbonate and PVC roof panels typically last? 

Polycarbonate roof panels can last for decades with proper installation and maintenance. PVC roofing has a typical lifespan of 20 to 30 years.

Are these materials suitable for residential roofing? 

While polycarbonate and PVC are more commonly used for commercial roofing, they can also be suitable for certain residential applications, such as sunrooms, patio covers, or specific architectural styles.

Can polycarbonate and PVC roofing be installed on sloped roofs? 

Yes, both materials can be installed on low-slope or flat roofs, as well as some sloped roof applications.

How difficult is it to maintain polycarbonate and PVC roofing? 

Both materials require relatively low maintenance, but regular cleaning and inspections are recommended to ensure their longevity. Polycarbonate may require additional care to prevent scratches, while PVC roofing may need occasional resealing or repairs.

Remember, the quality of your roof is only as good as the roofing contractor you hire. At A to Z Roofing, we have decades of experience working with all types of roofing materials, including polycarbonate panels and PVC.

We can help you determine the best option for your commercial building, providing expert workmanship and attentive, honest customer service.

So, if you’re still scratching your head over which roofing material to choose, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’ll be more than happy to answer any additional questions you might have and provide you with a free estimate.

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