Yes, you can walk on an EPDM roof. However, you should not do so regularly unless the roof has been modified to allow for regular foot traffic. We’ll explain more about what you should consider when walking on the roof and how an EPDM roof can be modified for regular use.
Issues with Walking on EPDM Roofs
EPDM roofing is a rubber-like material which has great qualities for roofing. While it repels water well and resists damage from ultraviolet light, it is much more challenging for this material to resist the impact of foot traffic. Walking on EPDM surfaces routinely will wear them down, which will compromise their performance and their lifespan.
At most, an EPDM roof should only be walked on sparingly to maintain the roof itself, including regular cleanings and inspections. You may also be able to place HVAC equipment on your EPDM roof and allow HVAC technicians to access it to maintain it. EPDM may also be used on surfaces which are escape routes, potentially those that lead to fire escapes. However, any use that is more regular than this isn’t a good idea.
Beyond wear, there are other issues with walking on EPDM roofs. Allowing anyone to access and walk on these roofs can be a serious safety hazard, as it is possible to fall off the edge of flat roofs. This can also end up increasing your insurance rates. EPDM roofing can also be a slippery surface, which can cause accidents which, when on a roof, can be highly dangerous.
Make Your EPDM Roof Walkable
If you have an EPDM roof, you can make modifications to make at least part of it walkable. In fact, EPDM membranes are often used as a base on surfaces which are meant to be walked on, including balconies and outdoor walkways that allow access to windows or HVAC equipment. In order to retain the quality of the EPDM membrane, they need to be covered with concrete tiles, slabs, walk pads or other materials that will take the brunt of the erosion when walked upon and will also add traction for safety.
Why Make Your Roof Walkable?
Making your EPDM roof walkable or investing in a type of roof which is usually designed to be inherently walkable, like a green roof, can be a great investment. Roofs you can walk on can:
- Attract tenants: In large residential buildings, walkable roofs and green roofs can provide valuable outdoor space which tenants can enjoy. This can help attract and keep the best tenants.
- Increase space: On commercial buildings, outdoor space on your rooftop can be a valuable and useful option. Restaurants can add seating, hotels can add bars or pools, and there are many more creative uses of these spaces.
- Grow plants: Green roofs in particular allow you to grow plants. They can contribute to the beauty and attractiveness of the building or give you a space to grow plants for commercial use or as part of a research project.
- Increase value: Walkable roofs can increase the value of your building.