Why use membranes over tar and gravel

When it comes to commercial roofing, tar and gravel system shave been the industry norm for quite some time. They gained popularity after crude oil found a place in the economy and have worked out pretty well for commercial roofing. They are cheap and pretty effective and until recently dominated the industry when it comes to flat roofing systems. Recently, scientific discoveries have found new systems for flat roofing that may prove to be even better than these single ply roofing systems.

Why Use Membranes Over Tar and Gravel

  • Membranes are much lighter. Compared to an EPDM (rubber) roof that has insulation and fasteners with it, plastic membranes are more lightweight. Rubber systems can weigh close to 2 pounds when all is said and done, but modified bitumen or plastic membranes are more efficient thanks to being lighter.
  • Tar and gravel systems involve a hot kettle to melt large chunks of solid tar so there are an inherent danger and high insurance liability. The fumes produced are also very noxious and fatal roofing accidents have occurred in the past with exploding kettles and scorching spills. Because of the risks and dangers, many commercial roofing companies prefer to use membranes instead of tar and gravel and smaller companies are following suit because they cannot cover the insurance policies required to cover the risks.
  • All membrane roof products are available in a white color option. This means the suns light and heat is reflected away, keeping the building interior cooler. When you re-roof with a single ply system it is very easy to first lay down a thick layer of foam board insulation, which helps this system maintain great energy efficiency.
  • When tar begins to age, it shrinks and cracks and because it is essential to the waterproofing aspect of the roof, leaks can occur more frequently. This would be an easy fix except that the gravel often covers the cracks and they are ignored. Additionally, water can run a long way from where it starts so when you notice it, you may have no way of identifying where it started.
  • A built-up roof (tar and gravel) can typically last between 20 and 30 years, depending on how much was spent on it. Membrane roofing systems can last a solid 20 years or longer if not damaged.

The types of membrane roofing systems we install include PVC and TPO. Either of these are great replacements for tar and gravel and will ultimately benefit your commercial building in no time. Contact us today for a consultation and we will help you find the right single ply membrane roof for you.

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