House with a gravel roof. Do you replace? Tell me everything.

13 Replies

I think the correct term is gravel roof. I've seen it on a lot of the old houses in my area. Anyways, have you bought a house with this type of roof? If so, do you replace or keep? Have you tried both and have seen a difference in value? 

I am thinking you are talking about a flat roof with tar and gravel.  I live in New Mexico and we have a lot off flat roofs with tar and gravel.  If the roofs are maintained, the flat roofs will last 15 to 20 years before they need to be replaced  The best option is to get at least 3 roofing contractors to look at the roof and get their advice.  You have to be careful as there are contractors that will tell you it needs to be replaced regardless of the condition.

I was speaking with a roofing contractor a few days ago and he told me about a product called Gaycor.  They claim to seal a flat roof for 50 years.  I have not experience with the product but will look into it when I need my next flat top roof replaced.

Good Luck

My mom's house has a flat roof. We pursued all options when it needed to be replaced in December. After lots of opinions and cost comparisons we chose the tar and gravel option.
Ultimately, we were swayed by more than one roofing contractor saying that the current trend in TPO roofs is a product that does not hold up well in New Mexico heat and sun. Secondly- if there is any ponding on the TPO material it can really impact its lifespan. Lastly- price was a big consideration. The tar and gravel option was not the cheapest. There were plenty of lowest bidder type contractors with various materials. On the other hand it was not the high-end-top-of-the-line-newest material. It was the most tried and true, time tested option that sat right in the middle for pricing. Let me know if you need a roofer recommendation in the albuquerque area.

hello, I'm an investor part time but I happen to be a training manager for GAF full time. I've worked in the roofing industry for many years and can testify there are many reasons why a TPO roof may actually be your best option. We manufacture a wide range of low slope roof systems including BUR (tar and gravel) and several others asphaltic system but TPO is your best choice for longevity, energy efficinecy and cost. It's the number one roof sold in America for low slope applications. Because its a thermoplastic membrane with heat welded seams, its actually the best product to stand up against ponding water. For high heat resistance and maximum durability, you will want to use a product called 50 mil. Extreme. Hope this helps. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. 

My previous business was a roofing and construction company. We specialized in flat roofs and did hot tar and gravel up until 2004. The tar and gravel is a great roof when it is new, but in this day and age I would go with a TPO or EPDM rubber roof. They are more maintenance friendlier than a tar roof. The price of building a pitch roof and than shingling it will cost a lot more than flat roof. It is very important you have flat roofing contractor do the work and not just a residential roofing contractor.

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I agree however I would stay away from EPDM. Its adhered seams are not as strong as TPOs heat welded seams and EPDM is a black rubber roof with very low emmisivity making it  extremely hot vs. a TPO roof which is energy star rated and highly emissive making it stay cool even in the middle of the summer. 

Originally posted by @Jake Landry :

I agree however I would stay away from EPDM. Its adhered seams are not as strong as TPOs heat welded seams and EPDM is a black rubber roof with very low emmisivity making it  extremely hot vs. a TPO roof which is energy star rated and highly emissive making it stay cool even in the middle of the summer. 

@Jake Landry I am sorry EPDM is just as good as TPO. I have done thousand of roofing squares with both TPO and EPDM it is a matter of application. If the seams are not welded corrected they leak, same goes for the Epdm if the seams are not installed correctly they leak. The manufactures both offer 20 year Warrenty also Epdm comes in white just like TPO. I would recommend finding a certified installer of either TPO or EPDM.

.I also would agree that TPO roofs are much better for no/low slope roofs.  I currently manage an apartment complex and just had a TPO roof installed on a flat roof.  They are essentially seamless as they are hot welded (melted together at seams).  I am in TX and this roof will hold up good against the heat as it's white and reflecting most heat.  Also, foam boards are below.  when it rains, puddles do form on the roof, but it has not been an issue.  I suspect that this roof will last for a very long time. I'm definitely a proponent for TPO roofs

@Brent Cullipher  It is all about the application having the right roofing contractor. I am in the north east the roofs have to hold up to sun, ice and snow. I physical have installed both roofs they will both hold up if done correctly. I am certified in both TPO and EPDM.

EPDM has definitely proven to be a good roof. It's been around for 40 years and was the first single ply to be installed on roofs. All roofs have pros and cons and we could definitely debate it all day and all be correct but where EPDM roofs have failure is from shrinkage, seam pops, and puncture resistance. Not to mention, ponding water on an adheared seam will eventually ruin the seam and void the 20 year warranty. TPO is the only roof systems hat comes with a "No ponding water" exclusion. You're correct in that heat welded seams on TPO roofs can be welded incorrectly by the installer but when done correctly, they are actually 400% stronger than the membrane itself. EPDM is a dying technology simply because it's few flaws have been overcome by the advantages of TPO. 

I'm so lame :) No one could possibly care this much. I'm out. 

There is a liability issue with Tar and gravel roofs during high winds.  After a certain period the gavel can come loose and the wind can carry it and damage nearby properties.

TPO roofs would be ideal as it not only resistant to UV rays, but also to ozone and chemical pressure. EPDM too has it's share of advantages as it reflects UV rays thus offering protection. Hence, each has it's own share of advantages.  Finding the right type of contractors also has it's advantages. Ideal would be people with certification and a guarantee on insurance policy.