PVC vs Polycarbonate Roofing Panels: A Clear Winner or a Tough Choice?


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When it comes to choosing the right roofing material for a building, PVC and polycarbonate are two popular options. Both materials have pros and cons, and it's important to understand their differences before deciding. PVC roofing is known for its durability, weather resistance, and energy efficiency, while polycarbonate roofing is lightweight, shatterproof, and provides excellent light transmission.

One of the biggest advantages of PVC roofing is its ability to withstand extreme weather conditions, including high winds, heavy rain, and hail. It's also resistant to fire, chemicals, and UV radiation, making it a popular choice for industrial and commercial buildings.

However, PVC roofing can be more expensive than other roofing materials, and installation can be complicated, requiring a skilled contractor to ensure proper installation.

On the other hand, polycarbonate roofing is known for its affordability, versatility, and ease of installation. It's lightweight and easy to handle, making it a popular choice for DIY projects and small roofing jobs.

Polycarbonate roofing is also highly resistant to impact and shattering, making it a safe option for areas with high foot traffic or potential for falling debris. However, polycarbonate roofing may not be as durable as PVC roofing and may not provide the same energy efficiency or weather resistance level.

What is PVC Roofing?

pvc roof
Image source: istockphoto.com

PVC roofing, or polyvinyl chloride roofing, is a type of plastic roofing material that is widely used in commercial and industrial roofing applications. The roofing sheets are made from a thermoplastic material that is lightweight, durable, and resistant to UV radiation, chemicals, and fire.

Roofing sheets made from PVC are typically installed in single-ply membrane systems, which means they are applied in a single layer over the roof surface. This makes them easy to install and reduces the risk of leaks and other problems that can occur with multi-layer roofing systems.

One of the key advantages of PVC roofing is its high level of durability. PVC roofing sheets are resistant to impact damage, punctures, and tears, which makes them ideal for use in areas with high levels of foot traffic or exposure to heavy equipment. They are also resistant to weathering, which means they can withstand exposure to UV radiation, rain, snow, and other environmental factors without deteriorating or losing their performance characteristics.

Another advantage of PVC roofing is its low maintenance requirements. PVC roofing sheets are easy to clean and maintain, and they do not require regular painting or sealing to maintain their appearance or performance. This makes them a cost-effective option for building owners and managers who want to minimize their maintenance costs over the life of their roofing system.



What is Polycarbonate Roofing?

polycarbonate roof
Image source: istockphoto.com

Polycarbonate roofing is a type of roofing material made from polycarbonate sheets. It is a strong and resilient thermoplastic material that is capable of withstanding extreme temperatures, making it an effective roofing material for many applications.

Polycarbonate roofing sheets are also lightweight, making them easy to install. They are also nearly unbreakable and can withstand extreme force, which is why bullet-resistant polycarbonate types are used in police shields.

In addition to its strength and durability, polycarbonate roofing sheets are also known for their excellent light transmission. They allow natural light to pass through, which can help reduce the need for artificial lighting and lower energy costs.

Polycarbonate roofing panels are available in various colors and styles, making them a popular choice for residential and commercial roofing applications. They are commonly used for skylights, greenhouses, patio covers, and carports, among other applications.

PVC vs Polycarbonate Roofing Panels: Pros and Cons

pros and cons
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Regarding roofing panels, PVC and polycarbonate are two popular options. Both materials have pros and cons, and choosing the right one for your project can be daunting. In this section, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of both PVC and polycarbonate roofing panels.

PVC Roofing Panels

pvc panel
Image source: https://www.lowes.com

PVC roofing panels are known for their durability and strength. They are resistant to the elements, including rain, snow, and UV rays, and can last for a long time. PVC panels are also affordable and straightforward to install, making them a popular choice for budget-conscious homeowners.

However, PVC panels are not without their drawbacks. One of the biggest cons is that they can crack over time, especially in areas with extreme temperature ranges. Additionally, PVC panels may discolor or become brittle over time due to exposure to the UV spectrum.

Polycarbonate Roofing Panels

Polycarbonate roofing panels are a tough and impact-resistant option for roofing. They offer excellent light transmission and thermal insulation, making them ideal for use in greenhouses and other applications where temperature control is critical. Polycarbonate panels are also shatter-resistant and anti-scratch, making them a popular choice in areas with high impacts.

However, polycarbonate panels are more expensive than PVC panels. They are also less rigid, which can make installation more challenging. Polycarbonate panels may not have the same smooth finish as acrylic or glass panels, which can affect their appearance.

PVC Roofing Panels

Properties and Strengths

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) roofing panels are a popular choice for their low cost and straightforward installation. These panels are lightweight and flexible, making them easy to handle and install. They are also tough and impact-resistant, making them durable for roofing projects. PVC roofing panels are known for their ability to withstand exposure to UV rays without discoloring or cracking.


PVC roofing panels are commonly used to construct greenhouses, patios, sheds, carports, swimming pools, canopies, garages, and pergolas. They are also a popular choice for sunroom roofing and awnings.

Cost and Installation

PVC roofing panels are a budget-friendly option for those seeking an affordable roofing solution. They are typically less expensive than polycarbonate roofing panels. Installation of PVC roofing panels is straightforward and can be done by a homeowner with basic DIY skills. However, it is recommended that a professional contractor be hired for larger roofing projects.


One of the main disadvantages of PVC roofing panels is their limited durability. They are not as durable as other roofing materials, such as metal or asphalt shingles. PVC roofing panels are also prone to discoloration over time due to exposure to UV rays. Additionally, they are not recommended for use in areas with extreme weather conditions, as they may crack or warp.

Manufacturer and Industry

PVC roofing panels are manufactured by a variety of companies, including Onduline, Palram, and Suntuf. The PVC roofing industry is growing rapidly, with more and more homeowners and contractors turning to PVC as an affordable and easy-to-install roofing solution.

Polycarbonate Roofing Panels

poly panel
Image source: amazon.com

Properties and Strengths

Polycarbonate roofing panels are popular for their durability, strength, and resistance to temperature changes. They are lightweight and allow natural light to pass through, making them an ideal choice for greenhouses, patios, carports, canopies, conservatories, swimming pools, garages, pergolas, and more. They are also impact-resistant and UV-resistant and provide thermal insulation.

One of the biggest advantages of polycarbonate roofing panels is their impact strength. They can withstand hail and other weather conditions without cracking or breaking, making them a popular choice for areas prone to severe weather. They also resist discoloration and fading, ensuring they maintain their appearance over time.


Polycarbonate roofing panels are commonly used in various applications, including skylights, roofing, and awnings. They are an excellent choice for both residential and commercial buildings. They are also used in manufacturing plants to provide natural light while protecting workers from harmful UV rays.

Cost and Installation

Polycarbonate roofing panels are generally more expensive than traditional asphalt, steel or metal roofing panels, but they are still a cost-effective option for those on a budget. They are easy to install and require minimal maintenance, making them a popular choice for DIY projects.


One of the biggest disadvantages of polycarbonate roofing panels is their susceptibility to discoloration over time. They can also be prone to scratching, which can affect their appearance. Additionally, while they are resistant to impact, they can be damaged by heavy objects.

Manufacturer and Industry

There are many manufacturers of polycarbonate roofing panels, including Acme Plastics and FRP. They are often used in conjunction with steel roofing panels, such as R-panel, to provide added strength and durability. The polycarbonate roofing industry continues to grow, with new innovations and technologies being developed to improve the performance and durability of these panels.



Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to choosing between PVC and polycarbonate roofing panels, there are several questions that homeowners and builders often ask. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision:

What is the difference between PVC and polycarbonate roofing panels?

PVC roofing panels are made from polyvinyl chloride, while polycarbonate roofing panels are made from a thermoplastic polymer. Polycarbonate panels are generally more impact-resistant and durable than PVC panels but can be more expensive.

Which is better for flat roofs, PVC or polycarbonate?

Both PVC and polycarbonate roofing panels can be used for flat roofs, but PVC panels are generally more popular. PVC panels are more flexible and easier to install, while polycarbonate panels are more rigid and require more support.

Are PVC roofing panels environmentally friendly?

PVC roofing panels are not considered environmentally friendly because they are made from petroleum-based products. However, some manufacturers are now producing more environmentally friendly panels that can be recycled.

Are polycarbonate roofing panels fire-resistant?

Polycarbonate roofing panels are generally more fire-resistant than PVC panels. Polycarbonate panels have a higher ignition temperature and are less likely to burn or melt in the event of a fire.

Which is more cost-effective, PVC or polycarbonate roofing panels?

The cost of PVC and polycarbonate roofing panels can vary depending on the manufacturer and the quality of the panels. In general, PVC panels are less expensive than polycarbonate panels, but polycarbonate panels are more durable and may be a better long-term investment.


That's a wrap on the PVC versus polycarbonate roofing panels debate. Hopefully, you're now equipped with the knowledge to make an informed choice. But remember, choosing the right roofing panel is just one aspect of the overall roof management.

There's so much more to explore, like dealing with unwelcome feathery tenants. For instance, ever wondered how to oust those pesky roof pigeons?

Or have you had ice buildup on your roof? Check out our comprehensive Mastering Winter: A Guide to Metal Roof Ice Guards. Oh, and let's not forget ventilation – a key player in any roof's health.

But hey, don't stop there. If you're curious about some of the common hurdles you might face with synthetic roof underlayment, hit up our article on Common Pitfalls of Synthetic Roof Underlayment.

So go ahead, dig in. We've got a treasure trove of articles waiting to help you master the roof game. You got this!

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