Image of the layers of asphalt next to an image of gravel

Tar and Gravel Roofs: What You Need to Know

Tar and gravel roofs are composed of laminated layers of asphalt based sheets, hot tar, and roofing felt. The topmost layer is lined with light-color gravel which protects the layers against sun damage and reflects some of the sun’s light. If you have a home or business with a flat roof – a tar and gravel roof may be the way to go. Here are some things to consider before deciding if this is the right roofing option for you.


Of all the flat roofing options, a tar and gravel roof is the most budget-friendly and can have a lifespan of up to 30 years with regular maintenance and repair. It provides excellent protection against UV rays, it is energy efficient and is a great option for windows and decks that overlook the roof. Gravel is also an excellent fire retardant and the surfaces on the gravel scatter light instead of absorbing it which can help keep your roof cooler in the summer. A tar and gravel roof has a great return on investment because it is inexpensive and lasts a long time. In addition, required repairs are less frequent because of the strength of the materials.


A tar and gravel roof is very heavy and you may need to strengthen the supports for your roof before application. Strong sun exposure can damage the roofing membrane if it is left uncovered by the gravel and it is not typically recommended in places that get a lot of snow or rain. Occasionally, tar and gravel roofs are prone to leaks, especially if the underlayments are not correctly installed. Improper installation can lead to significant damage and it is highly recommended to have your tar and gravel roof professionally installed. Flat roofing is also prone to ponding and depressions may occur on the roof which can affect the drainage slope and cause pooling water to continue.

Repair & Maintenance

Roof maintenance is something you need to do in order to protect your home from any sort of damage. A tar and gravel roof needs regular maintenance to extend its lifespan. At least once a year, check the gravel – if the roof surface becomes exposed, it accelerates the deterioration of the roof. Add gravel where necessary. Remove any leaf debris that builds up over time. Since the roof is flat, rain doesn’t wash down leaves that fall on it and this can result in ponding which happens when water stays on the roof surface for more than 48 hours.

It is always recommended for a professional roofer to do any roof maintenance. Not only can they safely maintain your roof, but they can also advise you on the health and lifespan of your roof.

If you are considering a tar and gravel roof, contact your local roofing expert for more details. At B&M Roofing, we bring superior knowledge and experience in commercial and residential roofing. We are happy to work with you to understand what type of roofing is right for your home or business and your budgetary needs. Contact us today for a free estimate!