EPDM and Nail Holes

Hey Guys,

I’ve poked around but haven’t found any info on this. I have a new construction low slope roof, between 1 and 2 in 12, that will be plainly visible to the front of the structure.

I would love to have the shingle look to match the “rear” shed roof and tie it all together, but realize they would only be for appearance. I heard that EPDM membranes will seal around nails. If this is the case, couldn’t I attach 3-tabs with a couple nails for looks over the EPDM?

Expertise of tar and gravel in this area is severely lacking and the weight is a concern. If EPDM will not seal, is there a material out there that will? Compatible Grace over EPDM??

Your thoughts gentlemen?

you can not nail over EPDM. the nails will not seal. you also cannot put anything over it as the asphault will probably react with the rubber.

Check this out…it is a low slope single ply that looks like architectural shingles.


That is really cool Aaron have you installed this product yet? and if so where in the world do you get it i like it.

You don’t want to puncture EPDM with a bunch of nails, so do not think about installing an EPDM roof with shingles overtop of it. What you want to do, if you have to have the shingles, is install an ice & water shield membrane before you install the shingles. A membrane like Grace Ice & Water Shield will self seal around the nails, but as with any waterproofing membrane you do have a certain amount of leak risk if you puncture it.

I’m not familiar with the Cooley membrane that Aaron recommended, so I can’t comment on it from a professional stand point.

Back to the EPDM. There is white and black EPDM membrane, just in case you decide to go that route. FYI, the black will last much longer than the white membrane, because of the carbon black content. So, I would not recommend the white membrane. Furthermore, if you are looking at installing a single-ply membrane, you may want to install what I consider to be the best single-ply membrane, and that is Sarnafil.


Sarnafil makes their membrane in several different colors, and even have a system that looks like a standing-seam metal roof. They also make a fleece-back material that can be mopped over an asphalt built-up roof, which gives you the surface of a PVC single-ply with the reliability of a BUR. FWIW, this is the membrane Anheuser-Busch uses on all their buildings where they have to keep the roof clean, i.e., spray off the hops and such. A-B doesn’t buy warranties from roofing manufacturers, so they pick the best roofing membranes available and use consultants to design their roofs. And no, Sarnafil is not cheap either, but it certainly isn’t the most expensive roofing either. Short of Sarnafil, you may also look at some of the TPOs that are available, they too are a good membrane but like Sarnafil aren’t cheap.

A soldered flat seam copper roof would look very nice and last much longer than any of the above. All things considered, a much better investment.



That is a nice looking roof dennis. But, FWIW, I’d rather have a flat-seamed and soldered zinc roof, or lead-coated copper. Then again, I don’t have to worry about costs on this site, so I can ask for the moon. Once again, your copper roof looked good based on the photograph. I may have transitioned the panels along the slope change differently, but I can’t say I have a problem with the way you did it either.

Why is zinc better? Why is lead coated copper better? What is the better way to transition such a roof as Dennis’s masterpiece?

The Cooley Illusions is a PVC membrane.

I realize that you like to challenge me, because you for some reason seem to feel threatened by me and my opinions/knowledge. That’s fine, but if you are going to challenge me can you at least not misquote me?

“Why is zinc better? Why is lead coated copper better?”

Where did I say it was better? What I actually said was I’d rather have a flat-seamed and soldered zinc roof, or lead-coated copper. But to answer your question here are a couple of links:



And my experience with zinc is from work I did on St. Elizabeth’s hospital in the Washington, D.C.


Zinc is highly resistant to corrosion, and lasts for 100’s of years. Copper can also last for 100’s of years, but I’ve actually seen corrosion on some copper flashings on an Owens-Minor building in Richmond caused by the bitumen roofing. Either way, copper or zinc, you can’t go wrong, but I prefer zinc.

To continue, you stated: “What is the better way to transition such a roof as Dennis’s masterpiece?”

Once again, where did I say better? I said I probably would have done it differently at the slope change. You know, things can often be done two different ways and be equally as good!

No challenge. Looking for info.

Hey dude, if I cant ask a question here and seek an answer, then whats the point?

Maybe I was reading too much into your post. I took it as a challenging post, rather than a search for info. My apologies.

In the meantime, did I happen to answer your question about zinc with the posts? Basically, it is a little more malleable, and it lasts longer than any of us will be around to see fail.

Terne coat stainless is also a nice option.


I was impressed by your answer of Sarnafil, mostly because I thought it was a locally (Boston) sold product and hadn’t made it nationwide yet. However, it seems to me that YOU are the one challenging, if you are to make any point against what any good roofer can clearly see is a beautiful roof that will outlast its purchaser by far. You’re definitely no dummy but you do come off a little strong and high and mighty without giving respect to other intelligent people sometimes.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean. On another post, you recommended the ISO. The majority of people would agree with you. I said I do not like it and I said why. The ONLY reason I even brought THAT up at all is because I’m in an expansion-contraction climate, and you’re not. Otherwise, I would have left it alone altogether. I stated to disagree because I thought my climate was more closely related to his in St. Louis whereas you seem to have disagreement for the sheer sake of having disagreement. It’s probably just coming off wrong in type, you may want to use the phrase “I’m of the opinion…” a little more often and it wont provoke attacks. Thats just my thoughts and opinion. Nothing personal.

furthermore, the first link said they were both corrosion resistant, sounded like equally so to me. The second one was an ad, throw that away as propoganda, I read only two sentences. The third one seems to be your ad. Still nothing conclusive on why zinc is better… the first one DID say that it was more malleable and made for finer creations of shingles and panels or something to that sort, but, seems to me that you could buy a cast shingle or panel that looks like anything you want out of any material and it would be cheaper and nicer than anything a person could make with there bare hands… again, seems like you argue just to argue. And what would you have done at that transition? Squared it up and had a continuous seam? I’m not seeing any other way…

Sarnafil has been around the US for a long time now. Not a whole lot of people use it here in Houston, but I’ve come across it in the D.C. area somewhere between 12-18 years ago.

I don’t want to get into a pissing match, but why should I have to state “in my opinion” when you and others do not? Go look at your posts, and tell me how often you take your own advice. At any rate, my comment to Aaron was based on a post of his where he called some roofing history I was passing along b.s. Since then, I’ve been a little leary of Aaron’s motives when questioning things I post. In fact, I still question whether he was really looking for information, or just trying to make me support everything I say. Hey look, I realize that as a roofing consultant I’m enemy number one to some roofers the minute I walk onto a roof, while others are glad I’m there because they know I provide them a level of protection. So, I don’t expect it to be too much different here, in that some are not going to like what I have to say and others will respect my position on certain issues.

Bottomline, I’m going to freely give advice just like everyone else on this site, and I don’t think I should have to abide by a different set of rules than the ones you and the others abide by. And FWIW, when I state something that is an opinion without basis, I typically will state it as such. Now, so there are no misunderstandings, this was not written in a mean-spirited manor, and is not intended to be an attack on you, it is just my way of saying that I intend on posting in the same manor as everyone else, and I don’t believe I should have to walk on egg-shells to please one or two of you all. However, I will consider taking your advice if you blaze the trail and lead by example first. Now, if it is all the same to you, lets move on…

Here’s my motive, cerberus…you give out advice recommending not using a system of which you are not knowledgeable. This is not only not fair, but reprehensible.

A roof consultant is “supposed” to be objective. Your opinions are just that…opinions. Opinions are not objective. The problem here is that you never say anything like “I do not know much about SPF, and therefore have no valid objective input.” Instead, you say “I would not recommend SPF.” This doe not state that you have no working knowledge of SPF, nor does it state that you do not have knowledge on the root cause of SPF failures. It just says that you are an “expert” and in your expert opinion, SPF is not a recommendable roofing system. (Or any other system you do not “recommend”)

This is where the problem lies. I understand that in order to save face, you must appear to be all-knowing, but we all know that there is far too much info in this industry for any one person to be all-knowing.

I know, from first-hand experience, that 99% of roof calls I go out on are failed systems, otherwise most would not even be calling me out. These systems are ALL EPDM, PVC, TPO, BUR, or Mod Bit. I could easily say that these systems are not reommendable because of past history of failures, and sell an SPF roof at a better profit. Instead, I try to attribute the failures to the root cause…usually installer error. Same with SPF.

I could easily sabotage your business with stories of bad roof consultants that sap their customers with useless unneeded expenses that could be put into the price of their new roofing system instead. I could easily tell stories of many consulting companies that learn their info from a book, while my summation is derived from emperical data. After all, those that cannot do coach instead. Would that be appropriate or well-taken by you or your peers?

Why dont you also offer up NRCA and NRF data on SPF systems, stating that they are the longest-lived available system on the market if properly installed and maintained? This is the sole source of my animosity toward your advice thus far. :frowning:

I would like to interject here if i may. I have to say when it comes to flat roofing systems Aaron is hard to beat. He has been around here for over a year and i have yet to see him give out bad advise to consumers. I am not saying anything bad about you Cerberus so dont read it like that. As far as the number 1 enemy thing, do what you may but your not an enemy of mine. Maybe to someone who does not have to back him or her up you might be but not against people that know as much or more about roofing systems. I was going to be a consultant but i found selling roofs made more money and i liked the hunt better. I know very little about low slope but when it comes to steep slope then i will comment if i see bad advise just ask anyone here that knows me. Personally since i have been in many fights on this site lets just get along here. It is different here btw. Just because you are a consultant does not mean your better than the rest of us because that is the way it is comming off to me.

Well Aaron, you make the assumption that I have no knowledge of SPF systems, and that hypothesis is what throws your whole argument off. In fact, I do know something about SPF’s and you just don’t like my conclusions. As for your ridiculous statement about failures on EPDM, PVC, TPOs, Mod Bits, BUR, etc; you really need to make those statements on a percentage basis. In other words, if 50% of roofs are BUR and 1% are SPF, then of course you are going to see more failures in BUR; afterall, every roof system fails at some point in time.

As for slamming consultants, have at it. I too know of consultants that don’t know what they should about roofing, just like I know many roofers that don’t know much about roofing. Luckily, I’m not in that group of consultants, as for the roofers, where do you stand?..Oh wait a minute, I get it, I don’t support the systems you install, therefore I must not know what I’m talking about, right? LOL!!! Whatever! Personally, I give advice here without charging anyone, and it is what I do for a living. How many roofs do you do for free? As far as whether anyone takes my advice, that is entirely up to them. You can sway them into believing SPF is the greatest roof coating in the world, and that is fine with me. Like I’ve stated before, there is a place for SPF, but like every other system around it is not suitable for each and every application. You are worried more about the “sale,” where as I just give expert advice. Sorry if that amounts to “stepping on your toes.”

As for you gtp1003, I am the opposite of you based on how you described yourself. I have some knowledge of sloped roofs, but my main knowledge is low-sloped roofs, i.e., mod bits, bur, PVC, TPO, EPDM, SPF, etc… It is what I did as a roofer, a superintendent, and a consultant. Now, I have no problem with people having differing opinions, but when someone calls my opinion b.s. because it doesn’t jive with what they do for a living, then all I can say is “too bad.” FWIW, just because Aaron has been around here for over a year, does not make him right or smarter than anyone else.

I’ll tell you what, if you want I will only reply to those in need of roofing advice, if all you roofers agree not reply to my posts! In other words, you guys do what you do for a living, and I will do what I do, i.e., give advice and solutions with regards to roofing.