The traditional hot-tar-and-gravel roof is built from three or more plies of waterproof material alternated with hot tar and ballasted by a layer of smooth river stone. Once made of tar paper, these types of roofs gradually are using more-advanced materials such as fiberglass membranes.
Pros: Gravel is an excellent fire retardant. Attractive for windows and decks that overlook the roof. It's the cheapest of the four roof varieties.
A single-ply rolled roof like ice-and-water shield but impregnated with a mineral-based wear surface. Torch-down systems involve heating the adhesive as the material is unrolled. Newer peel-and-stick systems are safer and easier.
Pros: Peel-and-stick material can be installed easily. Its light-colored mineral surface reflects heat and cuts energy bills. Its price is in the middle of the pack.
EPDM (short for ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a true rubber. The durable material resembles an inner tube, but it's engineered to resist damage from sunlight. EPDM can be mechanically anchored with fasteners, ballasted with stone, or glued.
Pros: The material's relatively light yet highly resistant to scuffs and tears. Leaks are easy to patch.
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