Roofing tar is a material that is used for repairing leaks on the roof. It is made up of coal tar and some petroleum byproducts mixed in too. For this article, we discuss how roofing tar is applied to a roof successfully, where it’s best to use it, and things to be aware of. Let’s get started!

Roofing Tar 101

A few hundred years ago, wood tar saw its use in the maritime industry. This substance was put to use on rigging and to preserve the wooden ships. Wood tar continued to be used for several hundred years, eventually being switched to artificial sealants. Roofing tar today is a modern version of what began centuries ago as an effective way to seal up spaces that may see considerable water or added moisture. This is also how it is used today. 

Plan Before You Start

Tar is now utilized as an effective roofing sealant for residential purposes and on commercial roofs too. Fortunately, the installation process isn’t too difficult, but it is more time-consuming than people sometimes believe it to be. With that said, the weather conditions and time of day play a big factor. 

Do It Yourself or Get the Experts In?

Using tar to fix up a roof is not an easy job. The tar itself is kind of pungent and it makes a mess. Being up on the roof is also problematic for many people, with over 150,000 Americans ending up in the ER annually due to falling off their ladder, according to WHO. 

Therefore, beyond the technical need to get it right, some other concerns make this perhaps a job for specialized roofing contractors instead of something to knock out on a long holiday weekend. 

Weather Effects and Other Considerations

Roofing tar must be applied to the roof when it’s free of snow or rainfall, including recent rainfall a few hours ago when the roof is still damp.

While the tar itself doesn’t take an age to install, the curing process necessary for it to be effective for the long-term may require 8-24 hours to complete. Without being allowed to dry completely, the roofing tar will be less than fully effective. 

Installation is permissible with temperatures down to 40-degrees Fahrenheit, which provides a lot of flexibility. With that said, the tar itself won’t dry or cure properly to create an effective seal until the temperature gets back up to 70 degrees. Therefore, warmer temperatures are needed to complete a successful installation. 

On the flip side, tar will become more liquid-like and potentially drip off the roof at high-temperature levels. Therefore, there are particular weather conditions and temperature levels necessary to complete the task properly. This should be known before any roofing tar work is done on your behalf or if you choose to attempt it yourself. 

Preexisting Roofing Defects

If there are any major roofing defects or structural damage, then these need to be fixed before applying roofing tar. This is relevant whether you’re completing the work yourself or hiring people. Safety is paramount here, especially when working from a height. 

How to Apply Roofing Tar

Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1 – Get your measurements right

How much tar is needed to complete the job right? You won’t know this unless you measure the roof’s dimensions. Usually, asphalt tar is the popular choice. However, coal tar bitumen is sometimes used when there are eaves or a steep slant on the roof. If you’re planning to do it yourself, then take a photo of the roof and ask at the DIY store for advice. 

Step 2 – Get the base layer in

A base layer needs to get nailed to the roof. This provides a buffer between the roofing materials and the tar material to prevent damage. Heat is applied and this could cause damage, so the base layer prevents this. 

The layer is comprised of aluminized, asphalt, or elastomeric materials. This choice is partly dependent on the roof’s shape too. 

Step 3 – Choose how the tar will be moved

Depending on the size of the project, a sizable amount of tar will need to be moved to the site. It will then be poured onto the roof directly from the special delivery truck. On smaller jobs where you’re just patching over small sections of the roof, then putting the tar into a bucket, going up the ladder, and then applying it works too. 

Be sure not to fill the bucket to the brim because it can easily overflow and leave a hot sticky mess on the ground. Not fun! 

Step 4 – Be careful with the application process

Begin in the corners. Use a fiberglass mop to move the tar once it has been poured onto the roof. Use careful strokes with the focus on a smooth finish. When applying the tar to the whole roof, use a thin layer of it. 

Go from one end of the roof to the other. Keep straight to avoid adding too much tar to any specific spot. Try to avoid clumping or mounting up. Use tar paper to get the right finish.