Commercial Roofing: Everything You Need To Know About Built-Up Roofing Systems (BUR)

by | Jul 12, 2021 | Flat Roofing

A commercial property owner has a lot of roofing options available to them. The two most common go-to choices include asphalt shingles and wood shakes. However, these two options mostly cater to slanting roofs, so what about flat and low-sloped roofs? An increasingly popular recourse in this sector is the use of built-up roofing systems, also known as the BUR systems. It is suitable for both commercial and residential buildings.

If you’re still not sure whether it’ll be the most suitable option for your commercial property, then don’t worry. We have highlighted the key areas that’ll be of defining interest to property managers and commercial building owners.

What Is BUR?

As mentioned above, BUR is an acronym that stands for Built-Up Roofing. It was first developed in the 1800s, but it gained industry-wide popularity in the 1970s. It’s also commonly known as the tar or gravel roof. It consists of alternating levels of bitumen (asphalt), reinforcing fabrics, coal tar, and tar. These are then finished with an aggregate layer of commonly gravel or stone. 

When it comes to surfacing, a varying array of materials can be used. This includes substances like aluminum coatings, mineral-surfaced cap sheets, fiberglass, elastomeric coatings, or hot asphalt. Yet, thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is still the most popular alternative when it comes to low slope and flat roofing applications.  

This is not to say BUR is inferior; it’s a highly recommended practice, particularly due to its long lifespan. It should be noted that built-up roofing methods can be used to make garden roofs. This is because the asphalt and reinforcing fabric used in BUR systems create a continuous, sealed surface that protects commercial buildings from water seepage. 

Kinds Of Built-Up Roofing

There exist three major types of BUR systems; these include:

  • Hot Built-Up Roofing

To make hot BUR, one needs heated, molten asphalt. It’s a little difficult when compared to other BUR systems as the roofers are working with very hot materials. A good example of hot built-up roofing would be traditional jute and tar BUR. Things have changed over the years and today’s hot BUR sheets use fiberglass in place of jute.

  • Cold Built-Up Roofing

This BUR type can be applied or sprayed using a squeegee. There are no toxic fumes that are released, and environmental changes don’t affect the application process.

  • Ballasted Asphalt Built-Up

This type of BUR isn’t dependent on adhesives for anchorage on the roofing membrane. When it was first introduced, a lot of property owners were skeptical about its durability. They were worried that a strong gust of wind would expose the area beneath the BUR as this technique requires loose gravel to be spread on the deck. However, the gravel and stones used have a wide diameter, making displacement difficult. 

The installation of this type of BUR is relatively easy. The gravel or stones only need a little blasting to apply them on the deck. Additionally, BUR systems can be incorporated into your commercial building under all weather conditions. 

The BUR Lifespan

The lifespan of the Built-Up Roofing System is in the ballpark of about 15 to 30 years. This will, however, depend on the region’s climate and the materials that have been utilized. Highly professional roofers can install BUR systems that go strong for up to 40 years. This roofing does better in warmer areas than cold ones.  Its lifespan is comparable to asphalt roof shingles that can last for about three decades.

The Pros

BUR systems have a couple of advantages that make a good case for their use in your commercial properties. Here are a few of these pros:

  1. It has few maintenance requirements
  2. BUR systems have impressive durability and can weather torrential hailstorms without sustaining much damage
  3. It uses a multi-layer system whose reinforcement protects your building from water damage and prevents any leaking into your commercial property from occurring
  4. In addition to having an aesthetically pleasing finish, it is also quite fire retardant
  5. It is one of the most energy-efficient roofing options available. It keeps your AC costs low by reflecting away the heat-inducing UV rays keeping your rooms cool

Call The Roofing Professionals

If you want to install built-up roofing for your commercial properties, or you already have it, and you want to know more about your options, then contact the experts at AWS Roofing. Reach out to us today for your free estimate.    

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