Exploring Gravel Built-Up Roofs: Pros, Cons, and Innovations

April 23, 2024by Caroline Fleming0

Gravel built-up roofs (BUR) have stood as a cornerstone in the roofing industry for decades, prized for their durability and longevity. However, like any roofing system, BURs possess their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Recent technological advancements have ushered in new solutions to address some of the drawbacks of traditional BURs, making them safer and more durable than ever before. In this article, we’ll delve into the pros and cons of gravel built-up roofs and explore the innovative technologies shaping their future.


Pros of Gravel Built-Up Roofs:

Durability: Gravel built-up roofs are renowned for their exceptional durability, capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions, including high winds, heavy rain, extreme temperatures and hail. The multiple layers of asphalt and roofing felt, reinforced with gravel or aggregate, create a robust barrier against the elements.

Longevity: Properly installed and maintained gravel built-up roofs can endure for decades, providing reliable protection for commercial and industrial buildings. Their longevity renders them a cost-effective roofing solution over the lifespan of the structure.

Fire Resistance: BURs inherently possess fire resistance owed to the non-combustible materials used in their construction. The gravel or aggregate top layer acts as a protective barrier against embers, aiding in containing fire spread and making BURs a preferred choice for fire-prone regions.

UV Protection: The gravel or aggregate surfacing on BURs offers excellent UV protection, shielding the underlying roofing materials from sun damage and prolonging their lifespan. This UV resistance preserves the integrity and performance of the roof over time.


Cons of Gravel Built-Up Roofs:

Weight: Gravel built-up roofs can be heavy due to the multiple layers of materials involved in their construction. This added weight may necessitate structural reinforcement to support the roof load, increasing installation costs and complexity.


Innovations in BUR Technology:

Cool Roof Coatings: Formulated with reflective pigments, cool roof coatings can be applied to gravel built-up roofs to reduce heat absorption and lower energy costs. These coatings enhance the roof’s energy efficiency and extend its lifespan by reducing thermal stress.

Reinforced Membranes: Advanced reinforced membranes, crafted from materials like modified bitumen or synthetic polymers, bolster the strength and durability of gravel built-up roofs. These membranes offer enhanced resistance to punctures, tears, and weathering, bolstering the overall performance of the roof system.

Improved Drainage Systems: Innovative drainage solutions, such as tapered insulation systems and internal drains, help mitigate the risk of water pooling on gravel built-up roofs. By enhancing water flow and drainage efficiency, these systems minimize the likelihood of leaks and water damage.


Gravel built-up roofs have long been esteemed for their durability and fire resistance, despite challenges such as weight. However, recent technological advancements are revolutionizing the BUR industry, offering solutions to surmount these drawbacks and enhance the safety and durability of gravel built-up roofs. By embracing these innovations, building owners and contractors can reap the benefits of BURs with improved performance and longevity.

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