Half done paint job on gravel roof causing problems

I have a tar and gravel roof of approx 2600 sq.ft. of which about half is flat and the other half pitched. About six months ago we hired a guy to paint the roof, but he died midway through the job. The coat was never finished. He used an elastomeric paint. We wouldn’t have known the difference at the time.
Recently I noticed that water gets trapped underneath the paint, and that the original white coat underneath it is completely degraded and crumbling. At this point, that layer of paint just lays on top of the white coat and the gravel like a loose sheet. You can pick it up: not bonded to anything.
We’ve gotten completely different advice from different people, and are not sure whose advice to follow: we’ve been told that we should just finish the paintjob and add some layers of paint to the current one to seal it off; we’ve also been told to strip the layer of paint off and do a new white coating. We’ve also been told we should completely regravel that whole section. Some contractors told us that the moisture will make the asphalt and tar paper rot and cause leaks. Others told us that that wouldn’t happen and that we shouldn’t worry too much about it, since the asphalt is what keeps the water out: we have no leaks as yet (a good chunk of the tongue-in-groove is exposed and there is no evidence of leaking).

We’re desperate for some insight, since we don’t know and contractors don’t seem to either. Please advise.

Tar and gravel roofs cannot be effectively coated with elastomeric acrylic coatings.

I have never seen it done, and the coatings manufacturers say don’t do it. There is no effective purpose for it.

What was the goal you were trying to reach by having the coating applied?

We had just bought the house and were trying to have the roof painted, since that’s what the previous owners told us needed to be done. We hired someone to do that and he told us that this was the kind of paint that we should be using. He was, as we figured out since then, wrong. The issue is that we had no idea at the time and not much recourse now, since he’s dead. We were following the advice of ‘professionals’ like we thought we were supposed to do.

We’re still trying to figure out now what the best way is to fix the problem, but all of the professionals we’ve seen tell us something different. We’re really completely lost.

Is the surface of the original tar and gravel roof rough with gravel embedded in it if you move the gravel aside?

Sorry to sound nitpicky, but there are valid reasons I am going to ask you a few questions before I answer.

Can you get any pictures of the roof in here?

Gravel is ballast or to protect the roof from the suns uv rays.The coating does nothing to loose gravel and is not needed or recommended,just leave it as is it wont hurt nothing as it is only bonded to the gravel and will detoriate.

If I push away the loose gravel, underneath it there is a rough surface with gravel embedded in the tar.

edit: in response to next poster
I do understand that at this point. The gravel, however, was not loose. It was embedded in a whitecoat that is quite common around here. It’s almost like plaster. That bonds all the gravel together to keep it from blowing off the roof in heavy wind (so I’m told). Underneath this layer of paint, that bond has completely deteriorated and now the paint lies like a sheet on top of loose gravel, while the rest of the roof is still nicely in one solid piece. Not to mention that this gravel underneath that sheet of paint remains consistently wet. Towards the edge, you can actually squeeze water out from underneath the paint.

One of the contractors told me that this will make the asphalt and tarpaper rot. Is that true?

I am attaching some pictures below.

Whomever did that didn’t know what they were doing.
They created a bigger problem.

Your going to need a new roof. Anything else is just a waste of time and money.

I don’t have a good solution besides plan for a new roof.

Is there any reason why regraveling wouldn’t work?

The part that worries me is squeezing water out of the roof…

I see. The edge of the flat roof is tapered down, and some water collects there underneath the paint. There are a few holes in the paint, and if you push down on the paint, that forces water out from underneath it. If you peel back the paint right there, you can see the water between the paint and the asphalt. I’m not squeezing it out of the asphalt itself, it’s just trapped between the gravel underneath the paint.

All i can say is wow! They really put it on thick!

I would remove the paint and see what you have.

Asphalt is a breather. It will let moisture through if left for too long, so you do want to get it dried out ASAP.

I did remove it in one spot, just to see what was underneath it. What’s underneath it is loose gravel and debris from the degraded whitecoat.

Then I would take it all off and start new… re-gravel probably if you’re not leaking.

Now there is a roof I could see you spraying foam on. :smiley:

Sounds like it is time for a new roof.


Now there is a roof I could see you spraying foam on. :D[/quote]

Nope… this is a HUGE NO-NO with the possibility of water in the system.


Now there is a roof I could see you spraying foam on. :smiley:

Nope… this is a HUGE NO-NO with the possibility of water in the system.[/quote]

Oh, you’d have to peel off the paint and let the surface dry first, but based on the limited info I think foam would be an option. Obviously, if there is water trapped within the roof system, the best solution is to rip it off and start anew.

BTW, I am now the proud owner of a Reactor E-2, but have no intention of ever using it to spray on roofs. We will be using it for under-deck, cold slabs, tanks, etc. My partner and I are in the process of acquiring new hoses, trailer, air-dryer, etc. In other words, I’m slowly going to expand from consulting back into contracting and general contracting. Naturally, I’ve done roof consulting for over 20 years, so I’m going to offer that service as well; even though I can’t stand it when contractors advertise themselves as consultants. The difference being, I was a contractor for 10 years, a consultant for 20 years, and now I will offer both but not on the same job (one or the other, I will avoid any conflict of interest).