Commercial Roofing - GAFGLAS Built Up RoofingThere are several types of industrial and commercial roofing materials. In this 5 part series we will cover each of the following: EPDM, thermoplastic, built-up, modified bitumen, and metal. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages and any of them can be the right choice depending on your building, climate, and budget. In this installment, we look at built-up roofing.

Built Up Roof Membranes

Built up roof membranes (BUR) have been in use on United States’ houses for over a century. These membranes are usually made of several layers alternating between bitumen and reinforcing fabrics (TPO and EPDM are single layers). This combination results in a finished membrane. The three types of bitumen material used most commonly in built up roofing systems are asphalt, coal tar, or cold-applied adhesive.

Built Up and Modified Systems

Built up roofing systems have a 120 year track record of success. This is one of the main reasons they have become such a stalwart in the roofing industry. A roofing type which has developed out of the built up systems is “modified bitumen” which we covered here. Essentially, modified bitumen is a traditional asphalt product which has undergone modifications which increase flexibility and enhance the built up roofing systems.

Pros and Cons of Built Up Roofing

There are several advantages and a few disadvantages to built up roofing systems.


  • It provides a high level of waterproofing protection
  • Ultra-violet protection
  • Low maintenance and low life cost maintenance
  • Survives harsh weather well
  • Surface materials can be made of gravel and minerals


  • Installation can be slow
  • Installation costs can be high
  • Certain fumes and vapors resulting from installation can be hazardous
  • Susceptible to wind and water damage

Although built up roofing systems have lost some momentum due to improvements in the modified bitumen systems, they are still a very important part of the industrial roofing industry. They have the longest and most well documented track record of longevity. Built up roofings still cover about 40% of the roofs in the United States.

Why Use Built Up Roofing?

The main thing that attacts roofers and building managers to the built up roofing system is they are headache free. You know you are getting a very reliable and durable roof which could last for 40 or more years if properly maintained. In addition, the maintiance and life cost will be low. While other systems certainly have plenty of advantages, many still choose to go with the tried and true option.

When you are deciding what material to use for your commercial building you should consult with an experienced, licensed roofing contractor. All Weather Tite, of Marlborough MA, is a GAF Master Elite® certified roofing contractor, which guarantees that we are fully licensed, fully insured, have a proven reputation for quality, and are committed to ongoing professional training. Check out the commercial roofing section of our website or contact us to talk to our expert team. You can request a free estimate and we will be happy to explain your options regarding recoating your roof. Our expert services cover all aspects of roofing from new roofs to minor repairs.