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

If you are at least 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 what tar paper is and why it is used if you want to know more about this material.

What is Tar Paper Used For?

Tar paper, often known as roofing felt, is a waterproof construction material used as underlayment. This felt paper is a traditional option compared to modern synthetic underlayment, offering reliable protection under various roofing materials, including shingles.

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 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.

Read also: The Reasons to Use Roof Drain with Overflow

  • 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 melts to water, it can seep into the nooks and crannies of the roof, making its way to the building’s ceilings, walls, or even insulation.

A well-performed, appropriately installed tar paper 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’s 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 fire resistance ratings. The shingles alone cannot achieve a 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.

Read also: An Expert Way to Get Tar Off a Skin

Tar paper plays a crucial role in the roofing system by providing an additional layer of protection between the roof deck and the shingles. Whether used under asphalt shingles or other roofing materials, it helps prevent water infiltration, ensuring the roof’s longevity.

Will Tar Paper Stop Rain?

As mentioned above, tar paper can serve as water repellent during extreme weather events involving 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 leaking 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.

Comparison with Synthetic Underlayment

While tar paper has been a staple in roofing for many years, advancements in materials have led to the development of synthetic underlayment. These newer materials often provide enhanced durability and moisture resistance compared to traditional felt paper, making them a popular choice in modern roofing systems.

Compliance with Building Codes

When installing tar paper, it’s important to comply with local building codes. These codes often specify the underlayment required for different roofing systems, ensuring that the roof meets safety and performance standards.

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

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RoofLast is an experienced author and roofing expert. With years of practical experience in the field authored several informative articles on various aspects of roofing, including installation, maintenance, and repair