Removing Roofing Tar From Metal [Step-By-Step]

Some steps to remove roofing tar

Roofing tar is excellent at fixing holes on your metal roof. It can also be an effective way to waterproof your roof.

 But too much of it or using it improperly will result in ugly stains.

In some cases, the tar mess that’s created might be hard to remove without also taking off chunks of your roof.

But before you accept the fact that these are permanent stains on your roof and you need to get a new roof installed, you should try a few things first.

This guide will show you how to remove roofing tar from metal without damaging your roof. So, do not panic; follow the tips and steps below.

Roofing Tar Removal – What to Use?

Roofing tar is a black, oily substance that’s used on flat roofs to patch leaks. It’s composed of coal tar and petroleum derivatives. 

The majority of roofing tars are dark blackish in color, although some producers have introduced lighter hues such as silver and white.

While roofing tar isn’t easy to remove, it can be removed from most surfaces (like roofs, metal tools, and hands) using WD-40 or oven cleaner if you are ready to put in a little elbow grease.

Homemade tar removers such as kerosene and diesel fuel can also work, but they are less effective and can be messy and time-consuming if you don’t have the right tools.

When it comes to roofing tar spills, you wouldn’t want to use these as well because many tiles are constructed of asphalt and can damage them.

It’s also not a good idea, in general, to apply these flammable and hazardous substances inside of your house.

how to remove roofing tar from metal?

Removing Roofing Tar with WD-40

As I said above, using WD-40 is an easy and fast way to strip off toxic roofing tar. Here are the general instructions and guidelines you need to follow.

What you will need:

1-A ladder

2-Safety goggles

3- Rubber gloves

4- A putty knife or scraper

5- WD-40 or oven cleaner

6- Rags

7- Soap and water

8- A power washer (optional)

Step-by-step instructions:

Step 1:

Put on your safety goggles and rubber gloves to protect your eyes and hands from the chemicals.

Step 2:

Climb up the ladder and assess the situation. If the tar is in a small area and is fresh, you can probably remove it with a putty knife or scraper.

If the tar is in a larger area or has been there for a while, you might need to use WD-40 or oven cleaner.

Step 3:

Apply WD-40 to the area with a rag or if you are using a sprayer, spray generously over the area that you need to treat.

Let it sit for a few minutes to loosen the tar. And then scrape off the tar with a putty knife or scraper.

Step 4:

If the tar is still stubborn, use a heat gun to melt through the roofing tar.

Make sure you do not heat the tar too much, as it can damage or warp the material you are trying to clean.

Apply more WD-40 and let it sit for a few more minutes. You might need to do this a few times to get all of the tar off.

Step 5:

Once you have removed all of the tar, wash the area with soap and water. You can also use a power washer to remove any WD-40 residue.

By following the steps above, you should be able to DIY remove roofing tar from your metal roof without damaging it.

Removing Roofing Tar from Metal with Ammonia

Another best way to remove tar from metal is by using ammonia and baking soda.

  • Mix together ammonia and baking soda in equal parts and apply them to the area with tar.
  • Let it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing off any residue with water. Dry it off with a cloth or paper towel.
  • If there’s still any residue left behind, use a wire brush to remove it by applying enough pressure on the surface. Do not apply too much pressure as it can damage the underneath surface.

You can also use a store-bought tar remover product that’s specifically designed to remove roofing tar.

Challenges in Removing the Tar From the Roof – Keep Them in Mind

Before starting the process of removing tar from the roof or your skin, you should know about the challenges that you may face while doing this job.

First and foremost, it is not an easy task to remove tar from the roof as it is a very sticky and messy substance.

You need to be extremely careful so that you don’t damage the roof.

The second challenge is that depending on the type of tar used, it can be a very toxic substance, and the odor it creates can be harmful to your health if inhaled or ingested.

So, it’s important to take all the necessary safety precautions before starting the process.

Roofing tar toxicity 

Usually, coal tar is a dark brown or black residue that results from the coal manufacturing process.

To meet roofing standards, coal tar must be refined and processed before it’s used in roofing tar intended to seal, join, or repair roofs that have suffered damage or are deteriorating slowly.

These can either be applied by trowel or can be applied like paint or caulking tubes.

Although the newer formulations are asbestos free, they may contain solvents, adherents, and mineral fillers and fibers that are considered carcinogenic.

Different types of roofing tars

Bitumen, tar paper, and gravel are the most common versions of roofing tar that are used to fix leaks.

There are different brands and formulations available on the market, so choosing the right product is important during the application.

Asphalt-based adhesives are also available as tar materials that are made of petroleum distillates and asphalt.

They’re used to adhere various types of roofing material, such as shingles, to the underlying structure.

One important thing to keep in mind during the application, as well as the removal process, is that the tar is sensitive to temperature.

Roofing tar’s unique liquid/solid characteristics make it perfect for flat and low slope roofs, allowing it to self-heal and seal leaks.

This also means when the temperature rises to extremely high levels, roofing tar will transform into a liquid.

So it should not be used on steep roofs to avoid running off at extremely high temperatures.

The Bottom Line

Roofing tar is a sticky and messy substance that can be difficult to remove, so it’s important to take all the necessary safety precautions before starting the process.

Products such as tar removers that are specifically designed to remove roofing tar can be found at your local hardware store which can make the removal process easier.

But if you’re looking for a more natural solution, you can use a mixture of ammonia and baking soda or even your everyday lubricant WD-40 to remove roofing tar.

Make sure to follow the instructions above, and you should be able to remove the tar without any problems.

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