The roof to your property is one of the most essential safety, structural and functional components. It protects all of your possessions and stands as a critical barrier against harsh weather conditions throughout the year. Therefore, the roofing method you choose is a vital consideration, specifically when it comes to longevity and cost-effectiveness. Built-Up Roofing is a highly popular option that first became preferable in the 1970s. And, it is one of the services we offer here at Industrial Roofing Services to many different clients. Our guide will give you a clearer understanding of this particular method and how it stands up in comparison to other options.

What is Built-Up Roofing?

Also known as BUR, this roofing technique involves alternating layers of reinforced fabrics such as fibreglass and a thick black liquid known as bitumen. These layers are applied under heat and produce a hardwearing and durable membrane. It is commonly found on low-slope roofs and is finished with a top layer of aggregate, for example, stone or gravel. Commonly, you will find built-up roofs on commercial or industrial buildings due to the continuously sealed surface. This heightens its ability to withstand heavy rain downfall and provides a more secure protective seal in comparison to other alternatives.

Advanced materials used

As with all aspects of construction, technology has developed the methods and techniques that are used. As we mentioned above, built-up roofing generally used a bitumen liquid, ply sheets and several surfacing materials.


A thick black mixture of hydrocarbons, you’ll most likely have seen bitumen in action for road surfacing. It is also known as asphalt and has exceptional waterproof and adhesion properties. This material is one of the oldest known engineering models that we continue to use today and allows professional roofers to create a reliable and secure watertight structure.

Bitumen can be applied hot in a liquid form or cold through spraying or squeegee application. It can be applied in all weather conditions and does not emit toxic fumes during application.

Ply Sheets

The ply sheets used in this method are now manufactured using materials reinforced with fibreglass. They are considerably stronger than wooden sheets and don’t require the surface to be excessively prepped before application. These sheets are laid over the bitumen which acts as the glue.

Surface materials

These are generally the aggregate used as a final layer. They are these for aesthetic reasons and also provide a protective layer against UV rays. Besides, certain surface materials will make the roof safe to walk on for repairs or access purposes. If using gravel or slag, these are normally applied with a flood coat. Other contractors may choose a mineral coated cap sheet which can be applied over felt ply sheets.

What are the benefits?

There is a reason why built-up roofing continues to be a very popular option. It has a host of benefits to suit busy commercial buildings, including:

Exceptional waterproof properties

Due to the combination of bitumen and ply sheets, built-up roofing is one of the most secure options when it comes to creating a watertight seal. This minimises the risk of leaks in your property and, as a result, reduces the chance of damage to your property.

UV protection

The surface materials used during this process cover the entire expanse of the roof surface. This prevents UV sun damage, therefore minimising the expense of repairs over time.


Aggregates also prevent fires from taking hold, meaning that built-up roofs are safe for a wider variety of business types.


Once installed, built-up roofs require very little maintenance to keep them looking at their best. This reduces the long-term costs for your business and makes them a highly viable investment.

How does it compare to other options?

There are many different roofing techniques and the one that you choose will depend largely on the building in question, budget and required longevity. With Built-Up roofing as a comparison, let’s look at 3 other popular roofing options and how they fair up:

Roof Tiles

Roof tiles are a popular option for residential buildings and are ideal for pitched roofs. However, they aren’t as durable as built-up roofing and commonly require repeat maintenance or replacement work to keep them looking their vest. Where built-up roofing performs well in different weather conditions, roof tiles don’t do well in extreme heat and don’t have a protective layer to prevent UV ray damage.

Ceramic Tiling

Ceramic tiles offer a host of aesthetical and premium benefits, meaning they are commonly used on investment homes or luxury buildings. They are beautiful and can last for many years when installed right. And they are environmentally-friendly for those looking to be more sustainable. However, ceramic tiling is a significant investment and the tiles are very heavy. You must have the right structural support to successfully install them and they cannot be used on all roof slopes, being unsuitable for pitches less than 4:12.


Slate roofs are truly breathtaking when installed properly and help you achieve a traditional look. They are durable, long-lasting and low maintenance. However, similar to ceramic tiling, slate roof tiles are expensive due to their complicated manufacturing process. They are also very heavy and require a strong enough roof. For these reasons, slate tiles are commonly used on investment homes rather than industrial or commercial properties where built-in roofing comes into play.

Choose Built-Up Roofing Today

Here at Industrial Roofing Services, we pride ourselves in offering a professional and reliable roofing service to every single customer. Over the years, our roofers have installed hundreds of Built-Up Roofing systems for clients, allowing them to benefit from the durability, low-maintenance and high resistance to impact, fire and UV rays that we mentioned earlier. These roofs are versatile enough to suit buildings of all sizes and work well on warehouses, retail parks, manufacturing plants and distribution centres.

If you would like more information about Built-Up roofing or would like to discuss a project with a member of our team, please do get in contact today.