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Tar and Gravel Roofs: You Get What You Pay for!

When building your new home, you might be confused regarding what’s a better option: a pitched roof or would a flat roof be more suitable? The rule of thumb is that flat roofs are suitable for arid climates whereas pitched roofs keep your home warm during rain and snowfall.

Since the costs of flat roofs are relatively lower, you can opt for this type of roof to save costs. When it comes to flat roofs, you can choose materials from a wide range of options such as PVC membrane, EPDM rubber, TPO, modified bitumen, and spray-on roof. Built-up roofs or tar and gravel roofs are also popular among homeowners since it’s a low-cost material.

Tar and Gravel Roofs

Tar and gravel roofs are also referred to as built up roofs or BUR. The history of these roofs in the US goes back to around 120 years. BUR systems are composed of alternating layers of reinforcing fabrics and bitumen. A base sheet is mechanically fastened to keep the roof in place.

This roof is made from fiberglass-based asphalt sheets that are applied in layers. Hot bitumen is then mopped in between each layer. The roof is then coated with bitumen and a layer of gravel is applied to hold the roofing material and protect it from scorching sunrays.

Why Tar and Gravel Roofs Are Still Popular

Despite being one of the oldest types of flat roofs, tar and gravel roofs are still very much popular. It’s because it is a cheap material available for $2.75 to $7 per square foot. It’s one of the cheapest roof materials and saves initial costs.

If the BUR roof is efficiently installed, it can reduce your electricity consumption. It reduces the temperature by 8-10 degrees during summers to slightly decrease the load from the cooling systems.

The Negative Aspects of BUR Roofs

Tar and gravel roofs are cheaper than many other roofing materials, but if you look at the disadvantages of this type of roof, you’ll understand why you should opt for modern roofing materials.
The lifespan of BUR roofs is 20 to 25 years. But if you don’t take good care of the roof and neglect the repair work, then the roof won’t last for this long. You’ll need to spend a hefty sum to replace the roof.

This type of roof is very heavy and you have to install an additional support to hold the weight. This material gives an unpleasant smell.

Tar and gravel roof isn’t only messy, but it’s also more susceptible to catching fire. Moreover, gravel can clog roof gutters and it’s not easy to detect leaks in such roofs.

When it comes to BUR roofs, you get what you pay for. Although the costs of this roofing material are quite low, it may be a better idea to opt for alternative roofing materials due to its various risks and disadvantages.