Tar and Gravel Roof on Commercial Building
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How Much Does a Tar and Gravel Roof Cost?

Last Updated: May 23, 2022

A tar roof, also known as a tar and gravel roof, is a type of built up roofing solution that uses multiple layers of waterproof material alternated with hot tar and finished off with a layer of gravel, crushed rock, or other ballasting. To learn more about built up tar and gravel roofs, including how much they cost, continue reading this buying guide.

Tar and Gravel Roofing: An Overview #

Tar and gravel roofing is meant to be installed on buildings that have flat or low-slope roofs (i.e. no more than 3 inches of rise for every 12 inches of length). Used in the United States for more than 100 years, tar roofs were traditionally six-ply, meaning that they had six layers of roofing material. Nowadays, three-ply tar roofing is typical, and rather than using tar paper as plies of waterproof material, a modern built up tar and gravel roof is made from glass fiber or other composite felts adhered with molten asphalt. What hasn't changed with tar and gravel roofs is the final layer of gravel, added to protect against sun damage.

Tar and Gravel Roofing Cost

Tar and Gravel Roof Average Costs #

Tar roof costs may vary depending on the materials used, the difficulty of the installation, your location, and other factors.

  • The cost to install a tar and gravel roof is $3.00 to $4.50 per square foot. For an average sized 1,500 square foot roof, that's a total cost of $4,500 to $6,750.
  • When the cost to remove and dispose of the existing roof is included, tar and gravel roof cost may jump to $4.00 to $6.00 per square foot, or $6,000 to $9,000 for 1,500 square feet.

Reasons to Install a Tar and Gravel Roof #

While new flat roof technologies boast better protection against the elements and very long lifespans, some of these claims are already proving to be exaggerations. For example, foam and rubberized flat roofs often do not outlast tar and gravel roofs despite claims to the contrary, and huge discrepancies between manufacturer quality means homeowners don't always know what they're getting with newer flat roofs.

Not so with tar and gravel roofs, which are virtually guaranteed to last 10 to 20 years without maintenance. In fact, with proper maintenance, some tar roofs have lasted 40 to 50 years or more. And thanks to the use of modern materials, they are only getting more durable. Other reasons why tar and gravel roofs have remained popular in the United States for more than a century include the following:

  • Rock Solid: The top layer of gravel on a tar roof is not only attractive, but it provides good protection against the elements and is a superior fire retardant.
  • Less Blockage: Another benefit of tar and gravel roofing is that debris, such as that from trees, is not easily lifted by rain and deposited in drains to create blockages. Debris instead is held in place by the gravel.
  • Value: Offering comparable performance to other types of flat roofing at significantly lower prices, a tar roof represents excellent overall value.


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