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Can you explain more about hot tar applied and torch down roofing?

I am looking for information on different types of roofing. Worker safety is my main concern. Please explain more about hot tar applied roofing and torch-down roofing. -- Boston, Mass.

Tar torch down roofing is an extremely popular roofing system for buildings that have flat or one-degree sloped roofs. It is also called modified bitumen, and it's a roofing system in use throughout the world.

Tar torch down roofing involves the placement of sheets of a fiberglass base layer topped by sheets of flame-activated rubberized asphalt membranes. The heat of handheld torches vulcanizes the asphalt onto the fiberglass base sheets. Torch down roofing has in large part replaced hot-tar and gravel roofing because of its neat appearance, ease of installation and longevity -- up to 20 years in many instances.

Hot tar roofing is a slightly different flat roofing system. Workers use mops to apply a base of hot liquid tar, which is then covered with overlapping layers of asphalt-impregnated felt. Hot tar is applied to the top of the asphalt to create an impermeable barrier.

Which system is safer for workers? Both roofing systems require a great deal of care to avoid burn injuries. With torch down roofing, the worker controls the handheld torch and can avoid injury by using caution. With hot tar-applied roofing, there is much more room for an accident due to the heating, transportation and application of the hot tar. The tar can cause severe burn injuries from splashing, an accidental fall onto the hot tar, or a dropped bucket of hot tar. Freshly applied tar can be very slippery as well.

Weighing the two roofing systems, it would seem that there is much more control against injury by using a torch down roofing system. Of course, caution is required when using either type of roofing material.

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Roofing vs. Reroofing

Roofing vs. Reroofing

If you come to find out that your roof has been damaged and needs to be fixed then there are two main approaches you can take. You can either decide to make a roof repair or replace the entire roof. Roof repairs will generally save you time and money, but in most cases a new roof is the best option. As a general rule of thumb, if the existing roof on is only one layer and there are no problems with the roof deck, a new roof is not necessary.

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