Residential Roofing

TPO vs Tar and Gravel or Built-Up Roof (BUR) Flat Roofs

Some commercial and residential roofs use Tar & Gravel or Built-Up Roof (BUR) as a roofing solution. Let’s look at both solutions. Both solutions work on a little to no slope type of roof.

First let’s define what a Tar & Gravel or Built-Up Roof (BUR) is. It’s made up of 3 to 5 laminated layers, hot tar and roofing felt. It also has a layer of bitumen and an aggregate top layer. It’s been used for well over 100 years. It works, but there are some disadvantages which we’ll get into shortly.

What’s a TPO roof? As we’ve mentioned in other posts, a TPO, Thermoplastic Polyolefin, roof is a thin rubber like single ply roofing material for low-slope roofs. It’s been used on commercial and industrial roofs since the late 1980s in both the US & Europe. It was initially used in pond liners and the auto industry. It is an alternative solution to other roofing materials such as PVC, EPDM & others and usually cheaper.

So what gives? I have a flat roof what should I choose for a roofing solution: TPO or Tar & Gravel? Let’s looks at the advantages and disadvantage of both.

Both TPO & Tar & Gravel can be about the same price depending on the installer and product used. However, that’s just about the only point where they are the same. Often times you will find that TPO is actually cheaper with many advantages whereas Tar & Gravel has more disadvantages.

When it comes to environmental questions both help with UV light in that it will reflect or absorb the UV light for roof longevity. However, TPO is cooler in the summer and warmer in the  winter due to TPO reflecting and absorbing heat depending on the color used since TPO can be white, black or gray.

What are other environmental considerations? A Tar & Gravel roof with tar, felt and fiberglass isn’t recyclable at all. Whereas, A TPO roof is 100% recyclable. As anyone that has ever been around tar knows, it smells. It’s bad for the installers as well as the people around it when it’s being installed. Granted it’s a short-lived inconvenience for the building owner, not so much for the installers. They deal with it frequently. A TPO roof doesn’t have that smell, is safe for the installers and is energy star rated. A Tar & Gravel roof is not due to inconsistencies in depth. More on that later.

What about installation? A Tar & Gravel roof can take longer to install than a TPO roof as it has to be “created” on site. Remember the smell we mentioned earlier? A Tar & Gravel roof, since it’s “created” on site doesn’t have a consistent thickness. You will have some areas that are thinner than other areas. Whereas a TPO roof is manufactured so thickness is consistent across the roof. Both Tar & Gravel and TPO use heat to install but in VERY different ways. Tar & Gravel, as mentioned above, has multiple layers which involves heated layers. Did we mention the smell? Whereas TPO uses heat to “heat weld” the seams. One final point worth mentioning. Depending on the thickness of the Tar & Gravel roof your roof may need to be reinforced to accommodate the additional weight vs. a TPO roof which is no issue with regard to weight.

Let’s consider if something goes wrong. Both roofing solutions can be walked on. Both are waterproof depending on how well the installer does the install. But what if a leak happens? Leaks in a Tar & Gravel roof can be very difficult to find. Think about it from this perspective. Try finding a water path when pouring water through rocks in a garden. It’s not easy. It goes all over the place. That’s how a Tar & Gravel roof is since it has aggregate. That’s not to state that a leak can’t be found, but it’s not as easy as TPO and could be more challenging to repair. Whereas a TPO roof leak can be found and sealed using different techniques. It’s similar to finding and sealing your favorite pool float or inner-tube. You find it, patch it and walk away knowing that it’s truly found and sealed.

Final thoughts. We most certainly advise customer to use TPO instead of a Tar & Gravel roof based on what we’ve mentioned above. It’s cheaper, more environmentally friendly and, generally, easier to repair should something happen.

 

By |March 15th, 2019|Commercial Roofing, Flat Roof Repair, Flat Roof Systems, Flat Roofs By Pegram, Residential Roofing|Comments Off on TPO vs Tar and Gravel or Built-Up Roof (BUR) Flat Roofs|

Common Causes for Roof Leaks in Heavy Rain

Even if your roof is well-maintained or fairly new, heavy rainfall is still a cause for concern. The areas of your roof that are prone to pooling water can lead to a leak during heavy rain. Not to mention, your gutters simply may not be able to keep up with the downpour.

Below are some common causes of roof leaks in heavy rain.

Leaking Skylight
It is not uncommon for skylights to leak during heavy rains. This does not necessarily mean the skylight is damaged, but that the condensation from the rain and runoff has a higher chance of leaking through.
Caulking has left gaps that rainwater is seeping into.
In most cases, placing a bucket under the leak will do as a temporary fix. After the rain stops, find a roofing inspector immediately to assess the damages from the leak.

Flat Roofs
Some flat roofs lack the drainage required to keep up with heavy rainfall. If your roof lacks proper drainage, this is an excellent place to begin improvements.
Home and Business Owners with flat roofing must also ensure their roof is properly sealed, and that all eaves and flashings are in good standing. This means that seasonal roof inspections cannot be allowed to fall by the wayside.
Keep in mind that flat roofs don’t always leak in the same manner as roofs with more shape. Instead, you may find drip marks down a large area of your walls or a wet spot on the ceiling.

Chimney Leaks
Chimneys are designed to do an adequate job of keeping the elements out, but your chimney could be the cause of your leaking roof. Homes with chimneys are commonly facing problems with roof leaks.
The outer structure of your chimney often retains water, which can make the roof leak in a hard rain. You must also make sure the shingles and flashing surrounding the chimney are in proper working order.
The flashing is a piece of sheet metal that covers the overlapping areas of the chimney and roof. Two layers of flashing is applied to the chimney and roof, and a sealed with a high-quality urethane caulk.
Naturally this caulk becomes loose over time and creates a pocket for rainwater to seep in. Often times reapplying the caulking could work as chimney leak repair, but flashing may need additional maintenance and a trained eye.

Plumbing Leaks
If you have any vent caps for ventilation exhaust fans on your roof, they may be the source of your leak. Before you climb on the roof to look for leaks, make sure your bath fan duct is insulated.
A fan duct that is not properly insulated will moisten the air. This leads to condensation in the duct. Look out for moisture building in the bathroom walls, or within the attic.
Looking for wet or dark spots when searching for a bathroom exhaust fan leak

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Flat Roof Maintenance IS Important To The Life OF Your Roof

If you have a flat roof and want it to maintain its value and to look its best, a regular flat roof maintenance program is essential. A regular schedule of roof assessment and maintenance will ensure that your roof will hold up to harsh environment exposure, particularly to winter snow and to the overall aging process.

1) Ponding on your roof
A flat roof is particularly vulnerable to “ponding.” Ponding occurs water accumulates in pools when the roof becomes saturated with water from rain or snow. If left undetected and not corrected, this condition can cause leaking and serious structural problems – even roof failure which could result in damage to the interior of your home.

2) Splitting in roof material
When inspecting your roof, look for splits or long cracks that, if present, will be visible parallel joints of your insulation. These will often appear spongy. These cracks are caused by poor workmanship, freeze-thaw conditions and surface stress.

3) Roof blistering
If the wrong bitumen is used on your roof, or if the roof is exposed to excessive heat, this could cause some, or all, of the felt layers on your roof to move.

4) Roof ridging
Ridging usually takes place in bituminous (built up) roofs in the insulation joints, due to moisture that condenses under the felt. These ridges may appear as long, narrow cracks and are typically the result of the roof membrane having been poorly attached.

5) Membrane Fasteners
If your roof is a fastened system, you should examine it for loose fasteners. The fasteners may become loose because they were not long enough or because of water saturation.

6) Felt Movement
If the wrong bitumen is used on your roof, or if the roof is exposed to excessive heat, this could cause some, or all, of the felt layers on your roof to move.

7) Snow Removal
If you live in an area where with heavy snow fall, you will want to be very careful that your flat roof doesn’t accumulate too much snow. This excessive snow could put your roof in danger of collapsing. If there is an accumulation of over 12 inches of snow, you should find a way to have the snow removed. But be aware that removing snow from a roof can be dangerous. Every year there are serious injuries to those who remove roof snow without adequate experience and equipment. Therefore, if possible, hire someone who has the proper equipment and expertise in roof snow removal.

Let’s Talk About Flat Roofs

Flat roofs offer some interesting advantages over a traditional sloped roof. Although it’s typically viewed as an industrial or commercial building style, flat roofs have a place on residential structures as well. With some designs, the entire roof can be flat; with others a portion of the building can incorporate the horizontal/flat design. Whether it’s a residential or commercial roof, there are reasons good reason for choosing a flat roof including structure, practicality and aesthetics.Flat Roofs By Pegram Flat TPO Roof Contractor

A flat roof provides easy access via ladder or steps which makes accessing the roof much safer. It doesn’t require special equipment or skill to simply walk on the roof. It does, however, still require expertise to inspect and conduct routine maintenance which any roof requires as your first defense against damage and repairs.

The flat access also makes your roof potentially an additional usable space. Your HVAC components can easily be placed on a flat roof to make use of traditional HVAC areas for flat roofs by pegram roofing contractor hampton roadsstorage or other purposes. Solar panels or even rainwater barrels can be used on top of the roof for eco-friendly purposes. With a bit of planning in a residential setting, it can even serve as a traditional deck for light gardening, sunbathing or simply spending time outdoors.

A flat roof is a practical choice for commercial buildings and can offer an interesting design for residential homes. Consider the available options with your next building project and contact us at Flat Roofs By Pegram to discuss your project.

Willie Pegram, Owner, (757) 537-1945

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Flat Roofs By Pegram Hampton Roads Roofing

flat roofs

Widows Walk | Flat Roof Before and After

Goodbye tar and gravel flat roof. Hello TPO Membrane energy efficient flat roof! Ain’t it purdy?!

Flat Roofs By Pegram Residential Flat Roof Repair and Replacement

BEFORE | This flat roof had been repaired over the years with tar and gravel but that never stopped the leaks from damaging the porch and railing.

Flat Roofs By Pegram Flat Roof Repair Replacement

AFTER | Totally sealed membrane roof system will last for years and finally make the porch and railing water tight.

Flat Roof | Before and After Flat Roofs By Pegram

If you have a flat roof and you begin to see “alligator cracks” you know you’re in store for some trouble before long. Don’t be tempted by the lower price (possibly!) to do a quick mop over of your existing asphalt roof. Asphalt is simply old technology and is prone to failure. A good flat roof system is dependent upon expert workmanship for long term high performance. Excellent workmanship is harder and harder to find these days… Make sure to ask your roofing contractor an important question before you hire! Click here to learn what to ask a roofing contractor before they begin.

Take a look at this before and after of a flat roof at Norfolk, VA home. All work performed by Flat Roofs By Pegram.

Flat Roofs By Pegram Alligator Norfolk Roof Repair Replacement

The surface cracking here is referred to as “Alligatoring.” These cracks indicate that the roof is nearing the end of its life.

Flat Roofs By Pegram TPO Membrane Roof After

Isn’t she a beauty! The energy efficient white roof will also make an impact in your household energy bills.