How much does a tar and gravel roof cost to replace?
Ashburn, VA

How much does a tar and gravel roof cost to replace?

Ashburn, VA

How much does a tar and gravel roof cost to replace?

$3.50 – $7.50cost per square foot installed
$4,500 – $12,600average total cost to install

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$3.50 – $7.50 cost per square foot installed

$4,500 – $12,600 average total cost to install


Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
Jennifer Carlson
Written by
Jennifer Carlson
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Tom Grupa

Built-up tar and gravel roof replacement cost

A tar and gravel roof costs $3.50 to $7.50 per square foot with installation or $4,500 to $12,600 on average. Tar and gravel roofs are also called built-up roofs (BUR) and are made of 3 to 6 layers of waterproof asphalt sheets, tar, and felt, topped with rocks or gravel.

Tar and gravel roof cost
Home square footage Average cost installed
1,000 $3,500 – $7,500
1,500 $5,250 – $11,250
2,000 $7,000 – $15,000
2,500 $8,750 – $18,750
3,000 $10,500 – $22,500
5,000 $17,500 – $37,500

Tar and gravel roof cost calculator

The following table shows the average cost to install or replace a tar and gravel roof on a house.

Tar and gravel roof cost - chart
Tar and gravel roof cost - chart
Average cost to install a tar and gravel roof
National average cost $8,600
Minimum cost $3,500
Maximum cost $17,500
Average range $4,500 to $12,600

Tar and gravel roof replacement cost factors

Labor to install a tar and gravel roof costs $2.00 to $4.80 per square foot and makes up 50% to 60% of the total installation cost.

Tar and gravel roof replacement cost
Factor Cost per square foot
Old roof removal $1.00 – $2.00
Tar and gravel materials $1.50 – $2.70
Installation labor $2.00 – $4.80
Total cost to replace $4.50 – $9.50

Other flat roofs cost $3 to $11 per square foot installed on average, depending on the material and application method.

Tar and gravel roof replacement
Tar and gravel roof replacement

The following factors impact installation costs:

  • Remove old roof – Removing an existing tar and gravel roof costs $1 to $2 per square foot.

  • Roof pitch / slope / complexity – Tar and gravel roofs are suitable only for flat and low-slope roofs under 4:12. Complex-shaped roofs cost more than simple flat roofs.

  • Layers – Built-up roofs typically have 3 to 6 layers. Roofs with more layers and higher-quality materials cost more.

  • Underlayment Roof underlayment costs $0.10 to $0.80 per square foot on average for materials. Tar and gravel roofs use a saturated felt underlayment, which contractors typically include in the estimate.

  • Rafter / truss replacement Roof framing costs $5 to $14 per square foot installed. Truss replacement may be necessary for roofs with extensive wear or damage.

  • Roof decking / plywood Roof decking costs $2 to $5 per square foot. Plywood decking is installed under the felt underlayment and supports the weight of the roofing material.

  • Roof penetrations / ventingInstalling a roof vent costs $200 to $700.

  • CoatingRoof coating costs $1 to $4 per square foot or $500 to $2,000 total, depending on the sealant type and number of layers.

  • Soffits and fascia Soffit replacement costs $4 to $22 per linear foot. Replacing fascia costs $5 to $12 per linear foot.

  • Geographic location – Contractors typically charge more to install tar and gravel roofs in major cities or areas where flat roofs are uncommon.

  • Season – Replacing or installing a roof during the off-season may save money in labor and material costs.

  • Climate – Tar and gravel roofs are not recommended for climates with heavy snow and rain.

  • Warranty – Tar and gravel roofs come with manufacturer and contractor warranties lasting 10 to 30 years. Contractors may offer extended warranties for an extra fee.

  • Permits – Roof permits cost $200 to $550, depending on location. Most contractors obtain permits and include them in the estimate.

  • Roof inspection – A roof inspection costs $100 to $400. Regular inspections may prevent costly repairs. Some roofing companies offer free inspections.

Tar and gravel roof repair cost

Tar and gravel flat roof repairs cost $2 to $7 per square foot or $200 to $400 total on average, depending on the extent of the damage. Tar and gravel roofs require little maintenance.

Tar and gravel roof removal cost

Tar and gravel roof removal costs $1 to $2 per square foot, depending on the roof size and local disposal fees. A complete removal is recommended when the roof is leaking, sagging, or has widespread damage.

Built-up roofing costs vs. other flat roofing systems

  • Rubber roofing costs $4 to $10 per square foot or $6,200 to $16,000. Rubber roofs are more expensive than tar and gravel but are better suited for residential areas.

  • Metal roofing costs $5 to $16 per square foot or $7,500 to $40,000. Metal roofs are costly but are much more durable and long-lasting than other roof types.

  • TPO roofing costs $4 to $10 per square foot or $7,700 to $14,000. TPO is a blend of synthetic rubber and plastic membrane.

Tar and gravel roof pros and cons

Tar and gravel roofs protect the structure from UV rays, hail damage, and drain blockages. However, this roof type is prone to leaking and pooling water, especially when not installed properly.

Tar and gravel roof pros and cons
Pros Cons
  • Long lifespan
  • Cost-effective
  • Energy-efficient
  • Fire resistant
  • Prevents drain blockages
  • Minimal maintenance
  • Prone to leaks
  • Strong odor during installation
  • Labor-intensive
  • Hot tar can be dangerous
  • Not ideal for residential areas

What is a tar and gravel roof?

Tar and gravel roofs, also called built-up roofs (BUR), are made of 3 to 6 layers of waterproof asphalt sheets, tar, and felt topped with rocks or gravel. Tar and gravel roofing is used for commercial buildings or homes with flat or low-pitch roofs.

How long does a tar and gravel roof last?

Tar and gravel roofs last 20 to 30 years on average. Regular inspections and maintenance may increase the roof’s lifespan.

Is it worth replacing a tar and gravel roof?

Replacing a tar and gravel roof is worth it if the roof leaks, sags, or has patches on 25% or more of its surface. Repairs and patches will suffice for small tears and imperfections.

Getting estimates from built-up roofing contractors

Before hiring a roofing contractor near you, follow these tips:

  • Get three or more quotes from multiple contractors and compare.

  • Verify that the roofing contractor has experience with tar and gravel roofs.

  • Read reviews on HomeGuide and Google.

  • Look for companies with a state contractor license and certification from the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).

  • Select a certified, insured, bonded company in business for at least five years.

  • Avoid selecting extremely low or high price quotes.

  • Beware of companies who recommend a full roof replacement if only repairs are needed.

  • Ask for a detailed written estimate and warranty before work begins.

  • Avoid large upfront payments. Instead, negotiate a payment schedule and save receipts.

Questions to ask

  • How long have you been repairing and installing tar and gravel roofs?

  • Are you licensed, insured, and bonded?

  • Can you provide references for past work?

  • Are you a member of the NRCA or InterNACHI? What certifications do you have?

  • Can you provide a detailed estimate?

  • Does your quote include debris disposal or taxes?

  • How long will this project take?

  • What will you do in the event of unexpected bad weather?

  • How will you access my roof?

  • What additional fees may be required?

  • Will you obtain any necessary permits?

  • What does your warranty include?

  • Do you offer financing?