What Is Tar Paper and the Available Types in the Market

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What is tar paper? This part of roofing system has existed for more than 100 years. This material provides quite an extensive lifespan at roughly 30 years with the right maintenance. For a lot of homeowners with flat roofs and some with sloped roofs, it makes a great choice due to the affordable price point.

You may find the tar paper being marketed under other names such as roofing felt or roll roofing. Basically, it is a layer that provides protection by being installed between the roofing shingles and roof deck. Modern tar paper typically made from adjusted bitumen combined with either polyester or fiberglass, but mostly polyester due to its better tear-resistance characteristic. It is widely used for flat roofs because it suits excellently with the normal movement made by this particular roofing type.

Currently, there are three different types of tar paper you can choose in the market. What works best for your roof may depend on a few different factors such as the size of your roofing or whether you prefer to install the component by yourself or by professional roofers.

what is tar paper

Here are the three tar paper types:

  • Torch-on felt

This tar paper type comprises three bitumen layers melt-welded by a blow torch onto the roof with a purpose to create a watertight seal. This specific type of roofing felt requires you to install all three layers if it’s applied on a occupied section of a house, while for areas like garages and sheds, you may only need two layers.


  • Self-adhesive felt

The next tar paper type is the most convenient one for DIY-ers, because it doesn’t require the use of flames to be laid over the roof. It makes a great choice if you’re trying to save some budgets and decide to set the component by yourself. After you have peeled the bottom of the film, it will automatically bond to the roofing substrate. In the end, it provides a durable yet cost-effective solution.

  • Shed felt

This tar paper alternative is ideal for garden buildings and sheds. It is available in self-adhesive or torch-on methods of applications. This roofing felt type is made to be visually pleasing to complement with a beautifully landscaped garden. Its waterproof and weatherproof natures depend on the used finish.

Tar paper is a budget-friendly roofing solution that offers excellent performance and longevity—not to mention, it is also easy to replace in case you want to do some roofing renovation project. It is relatively easy to transport and install, so it makes a very practical DIY material option if you’re looking to execute the project by yourself.

The maintenance that this material requires falls on the lower side of the spectrum. A lot of potential problems can be tackled by layering the felt with weatherproof sealant or paint. Beyond its visually pleasing trait, it also tends to last for decades. There are quite a lot of benefits after learning further about what is tar paper, so now you can get better perspective of using and installing this material.