EPDM roof installed incorrectly?


I recently had my gravel and tar roof replaced. I was surprised to find that the contractor put the epdm directly over the gravel. Is this acceptable? Also he removed the roof drain cover and said it was unnecessary. Thanks for any input.

Are you sure he laid the epdm directly over the old roof? It is pretty common to add 1/2" iso board then epdm over that. Can you post some pictures?

"I recently had my gravel and tar roof replaced. I was surprised to find that the contractor put the epdm directly over the gravel.

Is this acceptable?" If that’s true the answer is “NO” :expressionless:


I couldn’t figure out how to attach photos to my post, so please view my album. The contractor plopped on a drain cover at my insistence. I put my fingers under the epdm at the opening of the drain cover and I couldn’t feel any material other than the epdm.

I want to get all the information I can before I talk to him, so I don’t make any unfounded accusations.

Did the contract state that the existing tar and gravel roof was to be removed? If it did, then there is a problem.

No, there was no contract. Stupid, naïve me.

I hope that roof is as small as it looks in your pics because it looks like a waste of money to me and should be re-done. This time using insulation board. Tearing off all the old roofing would be best.

If the drain ring is installed correctly you shouldn’t be able to stick your hand or fingers in there. It should be bolted down or clamped. If the epdm is right over gravel you should be able to see & feel that. I don’t believe it, never seen it done even by cobblers & jack leggers.

Can’t say I have ever seen that either…seen a lot of other real crap but not EPDM directly over tar and gravel.

Where did you find this guy ? CL?

The coping looks sloppy as well. The caulking should be on the inside of the seams and you typically don’t use bronze or black like he did on a white coping.

The area is 400 s.f. Admittedly, I did not hire someone specializing in roofing, but someone who did exteriors as I needed some masonry work done as well. The quotes ranged from $3000 - $8000 for just the roof and not the rotten beams underneath. I took the cheapest quote, but I found my contractor on a review site (homestars) where he had almost 100 good reviews and won an award for having so many good reviews. He is a very likeable person, and one that earned my trust too easily.

So the consensus seems to be that epdm is never placed directly over tar and gravel. Doing some online research there seems to be two reasons:

  1. reduce the likelihood of punctures
  2. the tar in the roof will weaken the epdm

I will talk to the contractor. He has a 5 year warranty on all his work, so perhaps we can work things out. However, is there any recourse if that doesn’t work? I am located in Ontario, Canada, if that makes any difference. Thanks for all the valuable input thus far.

The EPDM membrane looks to be neither fully adhered nor mechanically fastened so what is keeping it to the roof substrate is beyond me. I would like to see a better picture of the drain to see what is going on with that. One thing is evident, the installer had no idea what he was doing!

The contractor has offered to re-install the epdm and add iso board for…$1150. He’s installed many such roofs without iso board with no problems.

Sorry to bother you guys again, buy my contractor replied with another email:

“The actual roof was over 45 years and all characteristics and qualities of tar are gone”

Is this possible?

I seen bad EPDM jobs before and this one is up there. How is that roof even attached? Fully Adhere to the gravel? Mechanical?

The epdm is attached mechanically, sort of. The membrane was laid out like a pie crust and the flashing (coping?) put on top. Then he drilled through the flashing, membrane, and brick wall and screwed it together.

Looks like you got what you paid for…

The short version:

EPDM can be used to line a swimming pool. As long as your details and seams are tight it won’t leak, even if installed over gravel (which is wrong). Provided your details are correct…(highly unlikely given your pictures) you can ballast the EPDM roof and let it fly with hopefully a lesson learned. Everything on that roof is wrong though, everything.

What should be done is the entire thing removed to the bare decking and have a professional roofer do the job correctly.

On a side note, while I’m sorry this happened to you I do loooooove when a non-roofer cuts my throat to get a job and just botches it.

If he didn’t put some hidden fasteners around the perimeter before going up the wall, you’ll have a trampoline in a few years!

Your contractor doesn’t have a clue. They make manuals for EPDM, and he obviously hasn’t cracked one.