What is Tar Paper and How It Benefits the Roofing System?

If you are at least a bit familiar with the roofing job, you may have heard of or known about tar paper, or roofing felt before. Otherwise, the following post can explain to you what is tar paper and why it is used; in case you want to know more about this material.

What is Tar Paper Used For?

Tar paper, also commonly referred to as roofing felt, roll roofing, or roofing underlayment, is a waterproof construction material used as underlayment in building construction.

Tar paper serves as a vapor barrier that prevents moisture from leaking and offers a protection layer from airflow.

The material comes in a thin sheet form created from compressed polyester fleece, glass fibers, or cellulose fibers with asphalt or tar treatment to give it waterproof quality. It is often layered with sand to prevent the material from sticking to one another.

what is tar paper

It is sold as rolls with different lengths, widths, and weights. Tar paper is relatively affordable and widely available in construction supply or home improvement stores.

Here are several tar paper uses:

  • Water-repelling

Snow or rain driven by the wind can be trapped under roofing shingles as water. This causes the potential of problems for the roof deck and building occupants of leaks, moisture damage, mold, and rot. Tar paper helps ensure the water is drained from the roof and won’t leak into the building.

  • Protection backup from water or ice damage

Snow or ice is pretty common in the areas of northern climates that can cause damage. When the snow or ice is melted to water, it can seep into the nook and crannies of the roof, making its way to the building’s ceilings, walls, or even insulation.

A well-performed tar paper that has been appropriately installed can seal around the area to prevent water leaks on top of the water protection membrane surrounding the roof fasteners’ shanks.

  • Additional weather protection

Shingles are the first defense line of the roof against the weather to extend the roof deck lifespan. However, if an extreme weather event happens and the shingles go loose, the roofing underlayment can help provide more protection against water and rain until you fix the shingles.

  • A possible requirement for the shingles to achieve a Class A fire rating

A minor test deck involving roofing felt may occur when the roof shingles are evaluated for their fire resistance ratings. The shingles by themselves cannot achieve Class A fire rating without the underlayment. However, you also need to make sure that the tar paper used is compatible and approved with the shingles to comply with the local building codes.

Will Tar Paper Stop Rain?

As mentioned above, tar paper can serve as some sort of water repellent during extreme weather events that may involve storms and heavy rain. These natural occurrences may cause trapped moisture on the roof decking, inviting humidity resulting in leaks, water damage, and mold. The tar paper can help to prevent water from getting into the wood and leak into the building.

This roofing component can be a lifesaver when bad weather hits your area. Even if snow, heavy rains, or storms cause a shingle to move or lose, the roof deck is still protected by the roofing underlayment that continues to be a defense line for the roof.

Now that you know what is tar paper and its benefits, you know that this part of the roofing system can protect your home, which ultimately protects you and the rest of the house occupants. It is a crucial part that cannot be overlooked during roof installation projects.