What Are The Advantages Of Bur Roofing?
A lot of people, until taught by experience when making the hard decisions, don’t realize just how diverse roofing can be. Sure, we notice that there are a few distinct materials (tile shingles versus asphalt), a few varied shapes (vaulted, gambrel etc.) and so on, but there’s so much more to it than this.
To fully appreciate this, though, and how much weight rests on us when we make a decision for roofing, we need to understand how critical a roof itself really is. Your roof is your first and last line of defense against so many horrors. The problem is that mother nature has declared war on all manmade structures, and with a few ancient stone exceptions, watch how quickly nature swallows up ill-maintained or abandoned structures.
Roofs have to work hard to keep climate control inside and the outdoor weather outside, lest your electric bill go through the roof (pun very much intended). It has to strive to keep pests out, which are eternally looking for a way to get in and make things nasty. It’s a critical structural component, and if it’s not up to safety codes, well, problems ensue especially for commercial or public spaces.
Worst of all, it has to keep moisture out. Water damage is a hideously insidious thing. It can cause electrical fires, it can cause structural integrity failure. Water will cause plaster and sheet rock to decay, wood to warp, carpets to rot, possessions to be ruined. Worst of it has to be mold though. Any mold is nasty and unsanitary, but some mold can actually be fatal. Black mold specifically can be lethal to the young, the infirm and the elderly, and it’s not good for someone in peak health either!
If your roof is in bad enough shape, your building or home can actually be condemned, or at best, depreciate in value and reflect poorly with your insurance provider. None of this is something you want to happen. So yeah, your roof is a big decision. If you need a flat roof (which is exceptionally common for high rises and large commercial spaces), you’re still looking at a lot of choices to weigh out.
One of the most common ones seems to have fallen out of popularity in light of advanced concepts like membrane and sophisticated synthetic processes. While those have their appeal, to choose them over BUR (built up roof) for the sheer fact of them being newer is a bit of a fallacy in a lot of ways.
Yes, BUR is an older process, actually dating back to at least the Victorian era, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hold up today. There are multiple advantages to this type of roofing, and we’re going to look at some of these today. Do note that these aren’t all of the benefits, and also note that BUR is really only ideal for flat roofs.
First, a very quick aside. Flat roofs aren’t necessarily truly “flat”, but very, very shallow-pitched roofs. Truth be told, no flat roof is entirely flat, because they wouldn’t properly drain. They can sure seem flat to a visual inspection or even walking around on them, but I for one have never seen one with less than at least a few degrees of gradual pitch, or a raised center. This isn’t crucial to understanding BUR, but it is something that really does need to be pointed out.
What is BUR?
BUR, or built up roof, is indeed an older technology and an older practice overall. It’s achieved by alternating layers of a special fabric/felt and layers of bitumen (asphalt) to build a composite, reinforced layer of material. On top of this there’s usually what’s called an aggregate layer. In most cases, this may be crushed stone, pebbles, crushed shell or something similar.
BUR, as said, is an old technology, but the formulae for the bitumen and material layers have advanced alongside other materials sciences. Technologies for implementing them (by way of tools) have also steadily advanced, meaning that modern BUR is a very contemporary and advanced take on an ages-old approach to roofing.
BUR is very affordable. While the materials and application thereof have advanced over the years, the leaps have never singularly been severe enough to push BUR into something truly new and hard to grapple with. Any roofing contractor worth their salt will find BUR very easy to implement, as it’s literally down to a science. It’s faster, it’s less wasteful, it’s less noisy and impactful than shingles or some of the newer implementations like PVC membrane.
BUR is very solid, and seams are very well-sealed, which means it doesn’t leak very easily at all. A BUR roof that’s leaking is a BUR roof that was done extremely wrong, or is very, very old. BUR can last upwards of thirty to fifty years, compared to the average fifteen to twenty-five for something like shingle.
Of course, this does vary depending on climate to an extent.
BUR is actually much easier to repair than some other flat roofing materials as well. For bubbles forming, an incision, some cleaning and some adhesive can usually fix it. If sections of it are damaged beyond this kind of repair, often they can be cut out, a small section of new BUR layering put down, and sole sealant put down.
This enhances the lifespan of flat roofs with BUR, and that’s realistically how you can often get half a century out of it – repairing is often actually viable provided the roof isn’t already that old.
So, what’s the trade-off with BUR? Well, in heavy winters, ice can form on BUR fairly easily, even with aggregate. Without said aggregate, it’s also rather ugly (though most people wouldn’t see it). Another downside is the loose aggregate can also get into drainage systems, which can be a real nuisance, and this aggregate can be a bit like walking on marbles if you choose the wrong stuff.
Still, BUR is definitely worth serious consideration – to learn more, fill out our contact form today.