Single Ply Roofing Membranes Gain Market Share
According to a recently published study by leading industry consultants, Applied Market Information Ltd (AMI Consulting), polymer based single ply membranes are gaining market share strongly from bitumen for waterproofing flat roofs.
The report’s editor John Nash says that “After several years of demand being constrained by low levels of construction activity in Europe, we are now seeing significant growth in demand for single ply. The market is shifting towards lighter weight and faster construction techniques which benefits single ply at the expense of bitumen felts. In response several of the single ply producers have increased capacity or are planning to while others are still operating at rates which are unprofitable. The impact of single ply's share gain on the bitumen roofing specialists has been severe and now many of the stronger ones also sell single ply”.
Bitumen supply has been impacted by reduced availability of heavy refinery fractions. Between 2008 and 2014 20% of Europe's bitumen producing refineries closed due to sharply reduced demand and a stronger focus on profitability. The reduction of supply is particularly notable in Italy where 6 of the country's 11 bitumen producing refineries have closed in recent years.
Strong technical innovation in polymeric single ply means better durability, improved aesthetics, easier installation and improved bitumen compatibility. One of the areas in which single ply is making strong progress is in the repair of old bitumen roofs. Not many years ago this was almost always done with bitumen.
Single ply roofing membranes are made from TPOs (flexible compounds based on speciality polyethylene or polypropylene copolymers), EPDM and PVC. The key requirement is 20-25 year performance despite direct exposure to weathering. These are demanding conditions requiring a deep technical commitment by the producers of single ply membranes.
Leading suppliers of single ply membranes in Europe include Carlisle, Firestone, Protan, Renolit and Sika. Several of the bitumen producers like Bauder, Danosa, Icopal, IKO and Soprema have already entered the single ply market either via acquisition or greenfield investment as they seek to reposition their businesses. Others are reviewing their strategies which is likely to drive future M&A activity. Since 2014 TechnoNICOL has acquired both Imper and Italiana Membrane and thereby created a substantial presence in the European market.