"We usually get complaints when we use tar, but not this time."

Has low-slope roofing got you down? Are you tired of the smell, the mess and the customer complaints? If you answered yes to either of these questions, W.P. Hickman Systems Inc., Solon, Ohio, may have the solution for you. Tarshield WB is a water-based coal-tar roof coating that can be used on structures with slopes up to 6:12. The emulsified bitumen product is a rubber-modified, static material, offering strong adhesion, impressive elongation and long-term waterproofing protection.

If you are saying to yourself, "That's all good, but what about the environment?" - rest assured that the product is VOC-compliant. In addition, the non-asbestos blend is cold-applied and thus able to provide the benefits of a coal tar system without the hazards that come with hot-applied or high-solvent materials. Compatible with either asphalt or coal tar membranes, Tarshield WB can be applied as a surfacing or flood coat to existing or new built-up roof assemblies. The product comes in 5- and 55-gallon containers for brush, squeegee or sprayer application.

"Tarshield WB doesn't have a strong solvent or tar odor, a nuisance of coal tar," says Ed Buczek, Hickman's Coatings and Adhesives product manager. "This is ‘environmentally friendly' coal tar; it's VOC-compliant in all jurisdictions." Buczek points out that there are also safety advantages, "There isn't the same concern there is with hot bitumen fumes. It's safe - no hot kettle or chance of burns."

As far as performance and application, "Standard coal tar is restricted to 1/4:12 slope, but Tarshield WB can be applied up to 6:12," explains Buczek, "It's sprayable, so from a contractor's view it's quicker and easier." In addition, "Coal tar is historically the longest lasting roofing material. It has a stronger molecular structure than asphalt. It has excellent resistance to water, oxygen degradation, chemicals and ultraviolet radiation."

Buczek says the company was spurred on to develop this product to improve on application concerns with coal tar and the desire to keep up with green technology. "Here at W.P. Hickman, we have a lot of coal tar experience and background. Coal tar is the best waterproofing product and we've made it better and safer." In short, "We have developed a material with all the advantages of coal tar and eliminated its shortcomings"

In the Field

Sure, this all sounds great on paper. But how does the product really work? To get a contractor's perspective, we spoke to Jerald Peterson, owner and president of Omni Roofs Inc., Shoreview, Minn. His company is experienced in all commercial and industrial systems and recently used Tarshield WB to reroof a home for the elderly run by the Wilder Foundation, a nonprofit health and human services organization that serves the greater Saint Paul, Minn., area.

The Wilder project involved the reroof of a four-story building. "We put down a four-ply BUR and then instead of hot asphalt or modified we used the Tarshield WB product - sprayed on - then we laid down gravel," Peterson explains. "We usually get complaints when we use tar, but not this time."

Peterson emphasizes that Tarshield WB was a very easy product to work with. "The material itself was easy to spray and went down well - there were no plug-ups in the gun. And we could clean our equipment and hoses with water." Peterson also appreciates the fact that the product is environmentally friendly.

In addition, Peterson is intrigued with the idea of using the product on a 6:12 slope. "I would like to try it when I have the appropriate project," he says. As it stands, Omni Roofing is currently bidding another low-slope project with Tarshield WB.

What would Peterson say to other contractors who are considering the product? "Tarshield WB eliminates the problems with low-slope roofing. Water will not hurt the roof if it ponds - it is water-based coal tar so it's environmentally friendly. It cleans well and there is no odor," he says. "We had a good project, perfect. The management at Wilder even commented that there were no complaints about odor, noise, dust and dirt. Over all, we had good luck with it and were surprised and pleased. We will use it again!"