How Long Does a Hot Tar Roof Last?

Roofs are made from all different kinds of materials like asphalt, slate, metal, and hot tar.  No matter what material is used, however, the roof will eventually need to be replaced.  Hot tar roofs are designed to last up to twenty years.

Tar and gravel roofs, also called Conventional Built Up Roofing (BUR), are flat roofing systems that are comprised of about 3-5 layers of laminated asphalt sheets, hot tar, and roofing felt.  These roofs are then topped with an additional layer of bitumen and finally a mineral coating for a protective seal.  Gravel is then added to cover the laminated layers, weigh down the roofing materials, and to protect the roof from UV damage by reflecting sunlight.

Like other roofing materials, hot tar roofs require care and maintenance to ensure they protect your home for as long as they are designed to.  With routine care and maintenance, a hot tar roof can easily last as long as 30 years.

applying hot tar on a roof

Benefits of a Hot Tar Roof

Why choose a hot tar roof?  There are many advantages to using this roofing material.

Easy to install: hot tar roofs are among the easier roofing options to install.  These roofs consist of several layers and you can even apply them yourself.  However, if you’re new to roofing, it’s better to hire a professional.  Working with hot tar can be tricky, but a hot tar roof is a little easier to install on your own than say traditional asphalt shingled roofs.

Waterproof: the tar in a hot tar roof completely waterproofs the system.  Tar creates an impermeable seal, making a hot tar roof perfect for climates that are subjected to heavy rains.

Cool: the gravel on the top and final layer of a hot tar roof keeps the building or home nice and cool.  Gravel reflects the UV rays so the tar and gravel won’t absorb the sunlight.  Not only does this keep the inside of the home at a reasonable temperature, but also the roof will help lower your utility costs.

fixing a roof with tar

Caring for a Hot Tar Roof

Hot tar roofs aren’t as common as traditional asphalt shingled roofs and many homeowners may not know how to properly care for one.  With regular care, a hot tar roof can last you 30 years.

Tar and gravel roofs can be strengthened even after they’ve been installed.  Installing additional layers of roofing material made out of fiberglass or foam creates more protection for the roof as well as increasing the insulation.  Alternatively, you can add layers of acrylic for a cooling effect (acrylic or elastomeric layers can also further weatherproof your tar roof).

When should you replace your hot tar roof?  The general guideline for a roof replacement is that if about 25% of the roof has been patched, then the entire roof should be replaced as soon as possible.  The roof should also be replaced based on its age.  Even hot tar roofs that are about 25 years old that still look good and have avoided being patched throughout its lifetime should still be replaced within a few years.

A few guidelines that can help you understand when a hot tar roof should be replace are:

-Leaks: leaks are a telltale sign that your roof needs to be replaced.  It means that the layers of the roof aren’t connected properly or the layers are suffering from severe damage.  The hot tar binds the layers together and a roof in good condition will be sealed so that water cannot penetrate through the system.  If you find leaks occurring inside the house, especially beneath the roof in the attic, then it needs to be replaced.

-Damage and tears: if a hot tar roof has severe damage or tearing within its layers, you’ll need to replace it.  The layers won’t do their job in keeping out the water if there is damage going through them, and unlike shingled roofs, you can’t reliably patch a hot tar roof if there is serious damage.

-Pooling: water that pools on a flat hot tar roof means that the layers are uneven and possibly worn down.  Maintenance should be performed and several new coats should be applied.  Depending on the age of the hot tar roof, the entire system may need to be replaced.

-Sparse gravel layer: gravel on the hot tar roof’s outmost layer reflects UV rays, which keeps the house or building cool.  Older hot tar roofs should be replaced, but if the roof is fairly new, you can add a new layer of gravel.

Longevity of a Hot Tar Roof

Ultimately, the exact lifespan of a hot tar roof depends on how well it’s kept.  Regular inspections, at least once a year, will keep the hot tar roof in its best condition.  Professional roofing contractors will make appropriate recommendations for maintenance and needed repairs and under their yearly inspections, your hot tar roof will last as long as it’s meant to, which should be about 25-30 years.

Replacing your roof can be an expensive upgrade to your home. Let us help you in making that decision. At Feldco, we provide a breakthrough design and triple layer protection to keep your roof healthy for what mother nature decides to throw at it.  For a roof replacement, our installers are factory trained, experienced, and professional to get the job done right. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote today.

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