Telltale Signs of a Coal Tar Pitch Roof

By Roof Online Staff • Last updated November 18, 2023

Also see our Coal Tar Pitch Roofing page.

These pictures give you a bit of an idea whether your dealing with a coal tar pitch built-up roof instead of an asphalt built-up roof.

Click on an image to make it bigger.

Ripples in coal tar pitch roofing material on a vertical surface.
Note the ripples where the material is on a vertical surface. Asphalt would harden completely and would not develop ripples like this.
Gravel surfacing has sunk into the coal tar pitch so the roof looks dark.
Over time, the gravel surfacing on a coal tar pitch roof tends to sink into the coal tar pitch, making the roof look darker than an asphalt built-up roof would at the same age.
Lighter fluid test. A piece of a coal tar pitch roof (on the left) turns the fluid a bright yellow-green, while the roofing asphalt turns it brown.
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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