What’s a BUR Roofing System?

February 3, 2022 5:05 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

If you’re looking to install new roofing on your commercial, industrial or residential property, you may want to consider a built-up roofing system. More commonly known by its acronym, BUR, this type of roofing system is ideal for low-slope and flat roofs. It’s a tried-and-true method that has been used in the U.S. for over 100 years, becoming popular due to its successful prevention of leaks and cracks on roofs that don’t do well with typical roof shingles.

But what exactly is a built-up roofing system, and what has made it such a popular option for over a century? Is BUR roofing the right choice for you? Below we’ll explain exactly what BUR roofing is, how the installation process works and why you may want to choose it for your next roofing project. Read on to learn everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

What is BUR roofing?

When you think of a roof, you probably think of asphalt shingles nailed on top of a house in neat overlapping rows. But these shingles don’t work in every roofing situation—they require a pretty steep roof slope in order to be effective. Because shingles are not sealed, without a strong slope you could have water pooling on your roof, potentially causing damage and dramatically shortening the lifespan of your roof.

So, what do you do to protect shallow-slope or even flat roofs from the elements? Enter the built-up roofing system. This is also a type of asphalt roofing, but rather than traditional shingles, which are rather small, BUR uses multiple layers of larger asphalt ply sheets. These ply sheets are topped with either a cap sheet or a flood coat, leaving less chance of your roof being susceptible to damage caused by water pooling, frost wedging and other potentially hazards.

Elements of a built-up roofing system

The majority of built-up roofing systems can be broken down into three key components: bitumen, ply sheets and surfacing material. Let’s take a closer look at each element and the role it plays in BUR roofing systems:

  • Bitumen: Also known as asphalt, this material is used as an adhesive. It can be used hot or cold. During hot installation, the bitumen is liquified and poured down as a base layer. During cold installation, the bitumen is either sprayed or distributed with a squeegee. In general, cold installation is the better option, as it doesn’t produce toxic fumes, can be used in any weather and often performs better overall.
  • Ply sheets: These are large sheets reinforced with fiberglass or organic materials, laid over bitumen to adhere it to the roof. Multiple layers are used.
  • Surfacing material: To provide further protection, a flood coat of asphalt is applied on top of the ply sheets. While the asphalt is still hot, small stones or gravel are embedded into the surfacing. This protects the roof from sun damage and debris.

BUR systems provide great protection to your building because of their layered construction, have a similar lifespan to shingle roofs and are generally very low maintenance. If you’re interested in getting a quote for installing BUR roofing at your commercial property, contact R&H Roofing today!

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