The Thickness Paradigm: How the Roofing Membrane Industry Got It Backwards

Posted by Steve Kuhel on Sep 14, 2020 12:30:01 PM

Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.

– Sir Arthur C. Clarke

The first computers were so large that warehouses were needed to store them. Car phones (yes there were car phones) were larger than the landline in someone’s home. Winter jackets were once so awkwardly large that skiers would rather freeze than wreck on the slopes. And as late as the early 2000s, “advanced” hard drives in PCs were larger than iPhones today.

But today in 2020, a nominal 36-mil ELVALOY™ KEE Membrane introduced in 1979 is higher performing and lasts longer than even the newest and thicker 60-mil, 80-mil or even 90-mil PVC’s or TPO’s in the harshest rooftop environments.

In most cases, technology evolves over time. In most industries, that evolution of products is driven by being economical around the space the product takes up … not value-engineering the product itself. The adage is: Because it is better, we made it thinner. It’s the natural evolution of technology. But not in commercial roofing, and there is a reason the best product (and subsequently the thinnest) was developed in 1977 and introduced in 1979 as FiberTite.

And this is the paradigm battle of today.

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