Everything About Roofing Tar and How to Apply It

Dec 30, 2022

Roofing tar is a dark and oily substance that's used to repair leaks. It's primarily composed of petroleum byproducts and coal tar. Let's take a moment to discuss the origin of tar, how you can apply it to your roof, as well as its pros and cons.

Origins of Roofing Tar

Tar has an interesting history. Six centuries ago, wood tar was known for its maritime uses. Specifically, it was used to preserve the wood and rigging of boats. However, in certain parts of Scandinavia, it was considered to be a cash crop to small landowners and was traded for staples.

Eventually, the tar showed up in larger cities and towns and was further distributed. In the beginning, barrels of tar were exported from the area in which it was produced. There were some areas that were thought to produce inferior tar such as Russia and Finland.

By the mid-1600s, NorrlSndska TjSrkompaniet, a Swedish wood tar company, was allowed the privilege of sole exportation. However, by 1900, the company had lost its reign and other countries were starting to export tar again.

The maritime uses for tar started to slow down at the end of the 19th century. Also, the production of tar started to diminish in the U.S. However, there were many technological advances taking place during this era. In the 20th century, natural wood tar would be replaced with artificial sealants.

How to Apply Roofing Tar

Tar is now used as a commercial and residential roof sealant. The process of applying roofing tar is pretty straight-forward. However, it's essential that you choose the right time of applying roofing tar.

Specifically, you should avoid tarring the roof when it's raining or snowing. Also, it should be applied in temperatures of 40 to 70 degrees. If you apply the tar when it's too hot then there's a chance that it may drip and won't properly seal. Here are a few key steps:

Step 1: Take measurements

You need to find out how much tar you'll need for this project. The best way to do this is to measure and calculate the dimensions of your roof. In most cases, asphalt tar is the best option, however, if your roof has a steep slant with slopes and eaves then it may be best to purchase coal tar bitumen. If you aren't sure about what type of tar you need, you could always take a picture of the roof and ask professionals at the hardware store.

Step 2: Put down a base layer

Create a base layer by nailing a coating onto your roof as it will serve as a buffer between the tar and your roof. This will prevent the heat from creating any damage. The coating may be elastomeric, asphalt, or aluminized.

The coat you choose will depend on the weather as well as the shape of your roof. If you want extra layers, then you can use a coating that's gravel embedded. This will strengthen and thicken the layer.

Step 3: Decide how the tar will be transported

Another important step is finding a way to transport the tar. If this project is particularly large then you may need to pour the tar directly onto the roof from the pipes of a truck. However, if the project is relatively small, you can use a steel bucket to carry tar to the roof.

Simply fill your bucket up to 3/4 full. This way, you can ensure that there are no spills and that it's easy to carry up the ladder. Remember, you're dealing with liquid so the bucket can shift. So make sure the bucket isn't too heavy.

Step 4: Apply tar carefully

It's best to start in the corner of your roof. Pour the tar out and use a fiberglass mop to move it around. Focus on making smooth strokes. Cover every area of the roof and make sure that your layers are thin.

Ideally, you should be rolling in a straight line and work towards the opposing corner. Make sure that the tar doesn't buildup or clump in any specific area. Carefully spread tar paper across the top of the tar and use your mop to go over it.

This ensures that it sinks into your asphalt. You can seal each layer by overlapping the tar paper. Create three layers.

Step 5: Be mindful of the heat

It's important that you take precautions when you're dealing with hot tar. Your tar kettle should always be 25 degrees below flashpoint so that there's no chance of explosions or fires. Never place your kettle near objects that are flammable. This includes grass, wooden tools, and rags.

Whenever you handle the kettle make sure that you're wearing gloves that are heat-resistant. You should also wear clothes that cover your arms and legs. Wear hiking boots are shoes that are non-skid or have a grip. It's also important to wear safety goggles and tie your hair back.

You should also have first-aid tools on standby. This means that you should have cold water handy in case of burns. If you're burned by tar, never attempt to remove it as it tends to solidify and will only make the wound worse. Make sure that you call for emergency assistance if needed.

Pros and Cons of Using Roofing Tar

If the roof of your home is flat, roofing tar is an excellent option. This substance is great for protecting your home against UV rays, excessive heat, and cold weather. It also ensures that your roof doesn't collect snow and water, which is a common problem with flat roofs.

And the application can be done within half a day's time. Another huge benefit is that it can save you money because it will require fewer repairs than other solutions.

However, this isn't to say that roofing tar doesn't have its drawbacks. There are a few things that you should consider before using this particular solution. For instance, during the process asphalt tends to give off toxic fumes. And this can be a bit of a health concern.

That's why it's important for installers to wear protective masks during application. Also, applying the tar to roofs that aren't flat or that have steep slopes could be dangerous to those who have very little experience. That's why many people choose to hire a professional.

Learn More from a Roofing Expert About Roofing Tar

The roof is a very important part of your home or business. Not only does it protect your home from all of the outside elements but it ensures that you can avoid things like mold. That's why it's essential that you perform regular maintenance. Sometimes, tarring is a part of this maintenance. The key is to be aware of what techniques you should use. You should also be familiar with the safety tips that we've just discussed. At Cloud Roofing, our staff is always happy to talk more about roofing tar. Simply contact us today to get started!

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