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Union County Roofers: Article About Tar and Gravel Roofs

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Many older and modern architectures have flat roofs. A tar and gravel roof is best suited to such roofing designs where the roof is either flat or slightly sloped. Tar and gravel roofs are also known in the industry as "built up" roofs, or BUR. Installed by Union County roofers who specialize in this type of material, "built up" roofs can contain up to three to five well laminated layers. The layers are made from roofing felt, asphalt base sheets and hot tar. The top layer is usually made from bitumen mixed with mineral coating to provide effective protection and to elongate the life of the tar and gravel roof.

Gravel is used to cover the darker roof layers. It is light colored and weighs down other roofing materials to strengthen the core roof structure. Additionally, it protects the roof layers from damage caused by sunlight, partially by reflecting some of the sun's rays. Installation of gravel on the layers must be neat and even. With tar and gravel roofs, it is vital to plan for downspouts and drainage to allow for convenient water runoff.

Tar and gravel roofs are significantly inexpensive relative to other roofing materials.

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As sturdy as these roofs can be, the average lifespan of a tar and gravel roof is between 10 and 20 years, which may be extended slightly through proper maintenance. Maintenance of such roofs usually includes regular cleaning of debris and recoating the external layer.

One of the major drawbacks of tar and gravel roofs is that they weigh a lot more than regular asphalt shingles or wood panels. The structure of the house must be able to support such a heavy roof over time without causing structural damage. Additionally, tar and gravel roofs can absorb water over time and are not suitable for areas that experience frequent rainfalls and precipitation. This is why proper drainage is an essential part of such roofs. Standing or pooled water can affect the durability of the roof in certain spots. Another disadvantage for hotter climates may be the heat absorption of such structures. However, this can easily be remedied through proper insulation.

Older tar and gravel roofs can be fixed by patching the roofing membrane. Rubber sheets can be installed alternatively as a membrane that is watertight and long lasting. Another weatherproof alternative may be an acrylic "cool roof" coating that can double as insulation. However, these fixes should only be considered if the original structure of the roof is undamaged. It's important to contact a professional to help weigh the pros and cons to this type of roof.

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