Whether you need a new roof on your home or your commercial building, you have choices when it comes to flat roofing materials. While traditional tar and gravel is the most economical way to get a new flat roof, it comes with some drawbacks. Tar and gravel roofs are heavy, installation can be difficult, and a roof leak is often hard to identify. Rubber membrane roofs are much easier to install, but if you choose the standard black, the roof is going to absorb excessive heat. You could also consider a modified bitumen flat roof, but it is not as tough as a rubber membrane roof and more susceptible to damage.
Tar and Gravel Roof Benefits
Tar and gravel roofs provide an extremely fire-retardant roof for the building and are attractive. This type of roof can last for decades with minimal maintenance. Some homeowners and building owners use a flat roof surfaced with tar and gravel to create additional outdoor living space. In a city environment, a tar and gravel roof can provide a much needed outdoor oasis. This type of roof is the most affordable and continues to be used in many instances.
Specific Problems with Gravel and Tar Roof Systems
As you can imagine, a tar and gravel roof that is built up in several layers is going to get heavy. If there are leaks, it's hard to figure out where the leak is coming from. The flat roofing installation takes time, and it's a messy process that comes with strong smells where the homeowner won't want to be home during the installation.
Rubber Membrane Roofing Material
Rubber membrane roofing installation is more expensive than tar and gravel, but it's easier to install. Rubber membranes are lighter, and it's easy to identify when there is a leak where the leak is coming from. While it looks much like it is made from inner tube material, it is manufactured to resist fading and damage from harsh sunlight. It is a material that is resistant to scratches, and patches are not difficult to apply. In hot climates, light-colored coatings are recommended to reduce the amount of heat absorbed. This will increase the cost of the roofing installation by about a third of the total price.
For flat roofing installation, work with a roofer who can give you options. Know the pros and cons of each type of roof and make your decision based on your needs.