Puncture Resistance of Thermoplastic Single-Ply Roofing Membranes

The FiberTite Toughness Test has apparently peaked the ire of our friends at GAF.  GAF submitted an article on the Puncture Resistance of Thermoplastic Single-Ply Roofing Membranes to RCI’s Interface and it was published in the current January 2015 edition.

In the introduction they reference the perception that single-ply membranes may be less resistant than multi-ply systems to puncture by sharp objects.  They state further, “To allay such fears, one company has developed a small demonstration to show that its membrane is puncture resistant”.  Yes, they are referring to the FiberTite Toughness Test kits.

And yes, we can all agree that puncture is somewhat subjective and relative to any given test method. The Toughness Test uses a nail set to demonstrate that the internal fabric for FiberTite creates a barrier to puncture from normal wear and tear on the roof top.  This is proven in the first evaluation in the article where vinyl and TPO membrane test results are compared under ASTM D4833 using a blunt probe.

Their conclusion for the "low-speed" impact testing states that, “The 36-mil (0.9 mm) PVC, made with a far denser scrim, IS STRONGER, showing the importance of the scrim in a low-speed test of unsupported material.  It clearly supports the view that physical strength of the scrim is more important than that of the polymer layers.”  I bet that wasn’t easy for them to write.  Yet they still get their digs in by referring to FiberTite as “PVC” when the market clearly understands that it is the only true KEE.

The second part of the article deals with measuring the force it takes to drive a #2 Phillips head screw driver through the membrane with a hammer.  Here, FiberTite didn’t fare so well.  The thicker and stiffer TPO membranes came out on top.  Whatever!

Sharp objects have never been a friend to single-ply membranes.  Fortunately, FiberTite’s KEE coating endures and even if something happens to puncture the membrane, it is easily repaired throughout its lifecycle.  TPO formulations are not so fortunate and I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from contractors who have tried to repair these systems after a year or two on the roof.

When you consider the balance of physical properties and the lifecycle history of FiberTite, it is still the toughest membrane on the planet.


During my demo's on puncture, I pull out the 25-year old samples following the new membrane comparison.

The following points are offered:

First, find roofs that last 25 years. There are isolated cases, but consistent performance like FiberTite is unchallenged.

Try to puncture the 25-year samples. Still tough to do. Proves that the physical properties of FiberTite are similar to its day of birth.

Other membranes start to lose their manufactured properties from day one in the elements. 

And be reminded...FiberTite is still protecting now 30 years + and still counting...

new warranty exclusion:  If the owner of the building takes a hammer and beats a #2 Phillips screw driver until it punctures the membrane, this in not covered under the Seaman warranty. 


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About Mr FiberTite

After 10-years in Local 88 out of Canton Ohio, the opportunity to drink the FiberTite Kool Aid came in 1984.  Since then I've been a student as well as a teacher in all manner of roofing with a focus on the engineering, design and installation of thermoplastic single ply roofing systems.  The industry is growing in complexity so there's plenty of opportunity to learn and sharpen your skills no matter who you are.  Hence, one of the most important things I've learned is that "to sharpen the blade, you have to rub steel with steel".


FiberTite® is a Registered Trademark of Seaman Corporation.  The views and opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of Seaman Corporation.

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