Coal Tar Pitch Roofing

A 25-year-old coal tar pitch built-up roof.

What kind of roof is it, coal tar pitch or asphalt? A quick test will show you: put a small piece of the roofing material in lighter fluid, wait a few minutes, and you'll have your answer. The coal tar pitch (on the left) turns the fluid a bright yellow-green, while the asphalt turns it brown.

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More Pictures:

1. Telltale Signs of a Coal Tar Pitch Roof

Useful Links:

1. General: For an informative, in-depth general article about various roof systems, see this page at the Whole Building Design Guide site, which is maintained by the National Institute of Building Sciences.

2. General: A good short introductory article on coal tar pitch roofing, "Coal-Tar Pitch Update" by roof expert Dick Fricklas, is archived on the website. The article is from 2009.

3. General: The Pitch Drop Experiment. Check out the decades-long experiment that's still going on at Australia's University of Queensland, intended to demonstrate the fluidity of pitch. You can watch the pitch in real time as it drips once every 13 years or so. This is at room temperature; it gets much hotter on a roof, decreasing viscosity, and producing the "self-healing" quality for which pitch roofs are esteemed.   

4. Historic Roofing: For a look at a coal tar pitch roofing guide from 1896, see Barrett's Handbook on Roofing and Waterproofing for Architects, Engineers, and Builders - Barrett Manufacturing Co. - 1896.

5. Safety: For health risks related to coal tar pitch exposure, see this page at the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Safety precautions are important when working with this material.

6. Safety: The Coal Tar Pitch Volatiles page at the OSHA website.  

7. SafetySee this Material Safety Data Sheet for health and safety information about coal tar pitch at the Durapax websiteThis is only an example and other products and brands may be different.

8. Technical: See this Coal Tar Membrane System Specification, as well as Coal Tar Application and Design Considerations for insight into how a coal tar pitch roof system is put together. Both documents are made available by Durapax.

9. TechnicalSee this Product Data Sheet for the technical characteristics of coal tar pitch at the Durapax websiteThis is only an example and other products and brands may be different.

10. ManufacturersA list of coal tar pitch roofing manufacturers can be seen here.