Built-Up Roof: The Roofing System That Provides Durability and Longevity

When it comes to roofing systems, homeowners and business owners are presented with a wide range of options to choose from. However, one popular choice is the built-up roof (BUR), also known as a tar-and-gravel roof. BUR is a multi-layered roofing system that comprises reinforcing fabrics, asphalt, and a top layer of gravel, and is typically used on flat roofs. This roofing system has gained popularity among many property owners because of its durability and longevity, making it an excellent investment.

Built-up roofs are sometimes referred to as “membrane roofs” due to their layered structure, which includes a membrane layer, such as tar paper, sandwiched between different layers of roofing material. This configuration adds to the strength and resilience of the roofing system, which can last for many years with proper maintenance.

Advantages of a built-up roof

One of the advantages of built-up roofs is their cost-effectiveness. This roofing system is less expensive than other types of roofs, such as metal roofs, and is commonly used in commercial buildings due to its durability. Built-up roofs are also highly resistant to extreme weather conditions, which makes them ideal for areas that experience harsh weather patterns.

Benefits of BUR Roof:

Built Up Roofing Installation

Disadvantages of a built-up roof

However, there are some disadvantages to consider when opting for a built-up roof. Built-up roofs are more susceptible to ponding water, which can cause the roof to deteriorate and eventually leak. Additionally, repairs can be more challenging and time-consuming than other roofing systems because of the multiple layers involved. Even minor repairs may require extensive work to access and repair the affected layers.

Types of built-up roofs

Built-up roofs come in two forms: asphalt and gravel. Asphalt built-up roofs are composed of alternating layers of bitumen (asphalt) and reinforcing fabrics that can be modified with a variety of surfacing options. Gravel built-up roofs use layers of hot tar and gravel to provide protection from the elements. Both types require periodic maintenance to ensure the roof remains in good condition.


Built-up roofs are often referred to as tar and gravel roofs and are a type of flat roofing system. This method has been in use for over a century and has undergone significant improvements, but the basic process remains the same. The number of layers, or “plies,” in a built-up roof system can vary, but most have between three and five plies.

The base sheet is the first layer and is installed over the insulation or decking material. This layer provides a level of protection against weather damage and provides a surface to which subsequent layers can adhere. The interplay sheet helps to bond the base sheet to subsequent layers, and the reinforcement layer provides strength and durability. The final layer in a built-up roof system is the top ply or surfacing, which protects the underlying layers from ultraviolet radiation and provides additional weather resistance.

How long do built-up roofs last?

The lifespan of a built-up roof can range from 10 to 30 years, depending on the materials used and the quality of installation. Regular maintenance and inspection can extend the lifespan of a built-up roof. Proper maintenance and periodic repairs can maximize the life of a built-up roof, protect the underlying structure from the elements, and provide an aesthetically pleasing look to your building.

A regular roof inspection is a must for any built-up roof. It ensures that leaks are detected early and provides an opportunity for timely repairs that can extend the life of the roof. Inspections should be done at least annually, but depending on the climate and other conditions that can affect a built-up roof, more frequent inspections may be necessary. Regular cleaning and repair of small damages as they occur are also recommended.

How to find a roofing contractor

It’s essential to select a roofing contractor that is experienced in the installation of built up roofs. Here are some of the things to look for in a built-up roofing contractor:

How much does a built-up roof cost?

The average cost for a built-up roof is $4.50 per square foot. This includes the cost of materials and installation. The cost may be higher or lower depending on the region and the complexity of the roof. It is important to get several quotes before beginning a project to ensure you are getting competitive pricing. Additionally, consider if it’s worth making an investment in a longer-lasting roof with higher costs up-front but ultimately savings over time in maintenance and repair costs.

built up roofing systems

How to get a roofing estimate?

When you need a new roof, you’ll first want to get a roofing estimate. This will help you know what to expect regarding cost and give you a starting point for negotiating with roofing contractors. To get an accurate estimate, you’ll need to provide the roofing contractor with some basic information about your home, such as the square footage of the roof and the type of materials you’re interested in using.

You should also have a good idea of your budget to let the contractor know what you’re willing to spend. Most roofing contractors will be happy to come to your home to look at your roof and give you an estimate, but you can also get an estimate by phone or email if you prefer. Once you have an estimate, be sure to ask questions so that you understand all of the costs involved in roof replacement. This will help you avoid any surprises down the line.

Are built-up Roofs the best option for you?

In summary, a built-up roof is an excellent investment for property owners who want a durable and long-lasting roofing system. The multi-layered configuration of this roofing system provides added strength and resilience, making it an ideal choice for flat roofs. With proper maintenance and periodic repairs,

The BUR system is one of the choices if you are looking for a reliable and durable roofing option. Built-up roofs are made up of layers of material – usually alternating layers of bitumen, reinforcing fabrics, and gravel or surfacing.

These roofs have been used for decades and provide great protection from the elements. However, built-up roofs require regular maintenance as they can be prone to punctures or tears. However, you can contact a  professional roofer to ensure it meets your roofing needs.