Revealed: An Alternative to a Built Up Tar and Gravel Roof

cartoon image of green building with black roof

A built up tar and gravel roof is comprised of three to five layers of asphalt sheets and hot bitumen. This roofing system is a typical choice among commercial properties in Youngstown OH.

If you own a facility in Youngstown, of course, you seek for a roof that will serve you longer. That way, you wouldn’t have to undergo an early and costly roof replacement!

While you may want a built up tar and gravel roof because of its life expectancy (which is around 20-25 years), there’s a much better roofing system you should know. It’s promising not just because it lasts longer, but also because it eliminates the drawbacks of a tar and gravel roof.

(In case you want to compare a tar and gravel roof with another material like bitumen, check out our previous guide.)

Without further ado, let’s dive into today’s topic.

Identifying the Downsides of a Built Up Tar and Gravel Roof

We already mentioned that the lifespan of a tar and gravel roof is about 20-25 years. Once this roof reaches the 20-year mark, it starts to deteriorate.

This shorter service life may be attributed to the following aspects/challenges:

1. Susceptible to ponding

Ponding water is a common problem among tar and gravel roofs if they are poorly constructed. So if you choose this roofing system, be sure to hire the right contractor. Good tar and gravel roofing contractors will adhere to strict engineering requirements to promote proper water drainage.

2. Leaks can be hard to detect

close up of gravel roof layer on a cloudy day
When it comes to leak detection, a built up tar and gravel roof makes this process harder. Water can accumulate beneath the gravel layer and travel horizontally.

Yes, having a tar and gravel roof makes it difficult to locate leaks. Since these roofs are made of multiple layers, it’s not easy to identify the exact source of the leak. The gravel which is the topmost layer hides the ponding water. As a result, water sits on the roof for a more extended period of time.

3. Prone to punctures

Beneath the gravel layer is a roofing membrane. The membrane easily sustains punctures with too much foot traffic. For example, maintenance personnel frequently goes up the roof to repair rooftop equipment. Tar and gravel roof life expectancy shortens as more pressure is put on the gravel which then punctures the membrane.

Spray Foam Roofing: A Better Commercial Roofing System

For this part of the guide, we finally introduce a more promising material — spray foam roofing (SPF). Spray foam roofs are made of plastic material. They start off in a liquid form which expands into a foam in just seconds. Spray foam roofs overcome the challenges of tar and gravel roofs.

If you’re not satisfied with a built up tar and gravel roof, consider switching to a spray foam roof. It’s one of the best tar and gravel roof alternatives, thanks to their advantages:

1. Longer lifespan = 50 years or longer

How long do foam roofs last? They reach 50 years or longer. In fact, some building owners are more than satisfied because they never get to replace their spray foam roofs. Aside from their impressive lifespan, SPF roofs are maintained every 10-15 years. You may wonder why they last really long. The next points provide further explanation.

2. Eliminates leak issues

Penetrations put other flat roofs at risk for damage. This doesn’t hold true for SPF roofs. The foam that expands completely seals any tiny holes and gaps. A tight seal is created that prevents leak and ponding water problems. Make sure to hire an expert contractor to install spray foam properly to ensure that the application is seamless.

3. Simple to repair

installer spraying foam roof on surface
A spray foam roof is made up of billions of closed cells. This composition makes issues easier to locate and fix.

Unlike a built up tar and gravel roof, it’s easier to locate damage on an SPF roof. The reason for this ease of detection is that SPF roofs are closed-cell. “Closed-cell” means that all the cells of the foam are completely closed. There are no air pockets.

That said, no hidden leaks occur. Water won’t travel laterally. If an SPF roof ever sustains punctures, a contractor can simply caulk the area. They may also apply acrylic elastomeric coatings to strengthen the SPF roof.

Here at J&M Roofing LLC, we specialize in the application of such coatings to enhance your roof’s water resistance.

4. Good thermal resistance

You should know that spray foam roofs provide the highest R-value. This means that SPF roofs effectively insulate your building. During summer in Youngstown Ohio, your air cooling systems won’t work hard to keep everyone comfortable.

Because SPF roofs are light in color, they reflect the heat of the sun. Overall, the result is lower energy bills. Spray foam coupled with roof coatings further reduce your energy expenses up to 30% each year.

5. Withstands foot traffic

One misconception about SPF roofs is that people can’t walk on them. The truth is that you can walk on SPF roofs, especially maintenance personnel. They can do so without the danger of puncturing the SPF roof. In fact, the National Roofing Contractors Association says that SPF roofs sustain up to 50 pounds per square inch (PSI).

6. Lightweight

Recall that built up tar and gravel roof systems are heavy. On the other hand, SPF roofs weigh less. An SPF roof weighs only 60 pounds per 100 square feet while built up roofs weigh 600 pounds per 100 square feet.

Related: 8 Benefits of Installing Spray Foam Insulation

Get an Expert SPF Roofing Installation Today

Ready to move out of a built up tar and gravel roof? Interested in an SPF roof as an alternative? While gravel for flat roofs seem like a good choice, they don’t come without disadvantages. If you want a commercial roof that stands the test of time, choose to install an SPF roof instead.

Remember that the most essential step of your commercial roofing project is hiring a good company. You’ll rest assured knowing that your roof construction is in good hands.

J&M Roofing LLC is a Youngstown OH based roofing company. We specialize in the application of spray foam roofs on various surfaces like built up roofs, wood, metal, concrete, and more. End your roofing worries today. Learn more or hire us by calling us at 800-773-1616.