Expert advice on working with tar-and-gravel, built-up, flat and roll roofing materials, with tips on installation, construction diagrams and repairs.
Flat or almost-flat roofs can collect a tremendous amount of water, especially if their outlets or downspouts become plugged with leaves and debris.
For this reason, they must be designed to seal against standing water that may pool on the roof. Ordinary roof shingles won’t seal-out standing water–they are designed to overlap one another and shed rain downward and so are intended for sloped roofs. “Flat” roofs (which usually have a very slight slope) utilize roofing that is completely sealed and therefore impervious to leaking. The standard roofing for this situation is built up from layers of hot tar and thick roofing felt and topped with a layer of gravel; this is called built-up roofing.
This section of HomeTips discusses the basics of built-up roofing and offers help for basic do-it-yourself repairs. Installing a built-up roof is not a DIY project; if you need a new or replacement built-up roof, contact a licensed built-up roofing contractor in your area.
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