Built-Up Roofing

Built-Up Roofing

A built-up roof system is a popular choice for buildings with low-slope or flat roofs. Often referred to by the acronym BUR, this system has been used for 100-plus years in the U.S.

They are known for providing excellent protection due to their redundant nature because they are made up of multiple layers of ply sheets and asphalt. These layers are then topped off by a cap sheet or a flood coat of asphalt and granules. The multiple plies provide resistance to weather and heavy-duty protection for the building.

What is Built-Up Roofing Made Of?

Built-Up Roofing Made Of At a basic level, built-up roofs have at least three materials: ply sheets, layers of bitumen or asphalt, and a surfacing material like stone or gravel.

A modern BUR’s base is thick roof insulation with a cover board. On top of the board are alternating layers of bitumen and ply sheets, such as roof felt. The bitumen can be “cold,” which means an adhesive application, or “hot” applied with a torch. The top layer is a surface material such as small stones or gravel. Some BURs, especially in commercial spaces, have a UV layer under the aggregate for heat resistance.


Built-Up Roofing Lifespan 

Depending on the climate and the specific materials used, built-up roofing has an average life expectancy of 15 to 30 years, but some constructions can last up to 40 years. In general, built-up roofing tends to fare better in warmer climates than in cold regions. This lifespan makes built-up roofing comparable to composition (asphalt) shingles, which last between 15 and 30 years, depending on their quality.

Why you should choose built-up roofing

Here are some great reasons why you should choose built-up roofing for your property.

Exceptional Durability

While many single-ply membranes can resist ordinary hail. Built-up roofing systems can take a pounding from hailstorms without deteriorating much. Similarly, BUR systems are impervious to strong winds.

Ease of Maintenance

Although built-up roofing and shingles have somewhat similar materials, BUR tends to have fewer maintenance requirements.

Excellent Water Resistance

The reinforced multi-layer system offers advanced protection against water and reduces the risk of leaks compared to single-ply roofing systems. When this roofing is being installed, the layers of asphalt are fixed together with layers of reinforced fabric above the recovery board layer or rigid insulation.

Fire Retardant

BUR roofing – more specifically, ballasted asphalt – has fire-retardant properties along with an attractive finish. Cold built-up roofing, on the other hand, is considered more environmentally friendly and doesn’t produce any harmful or annoying fumes. It’s also easy to install, even during extreme weather conditions.


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