Roofing Felt vs. Tar Paper: Which one to choose?

Building a stable housing is easy, especially if you have the right roofing material. Good quality felt will prevent your roof from water damage, leaks, and even mold infestation. It will also keep water away from wooden structures, giving your home better longevity.

Roofing felt and Tar paper are two of the most popular options in roof protection. Is there any difference between roofing felt vs. tar paper?

For starters, roofing felts are mostly synthetic. Then again, if you want a more natural solution for your home, tar paper is the way to go.

As roofing felts are synthetic, they tend to last longer, prevent moisture damage better, and are also slip-resistant. On the other hand, Tar paper may not be as rigid but doesn’t leave a harmful carbon footprint on the environment.

Roofing Felt vs Tar Paper

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What is the difference between tar paper and roofing felt?

The key difference between tar paper and roofing felt is their composition. Roofing felt can be anything ranging from natural to synthetic material, where fiberglass and polyester are the most common. However, tar paper is fully natural. It has recycled paper products and Sawdust as the base and tar as the outer layer. 

In the case of roofing felts, you will get better longevity, slipping protection, and a rigid outer layer for gripping. Tar papers are also more susceptible to damages like rotting or shear cracking. However, Tar paper is much cheaper than synthetic roofing felt. 

Roofing Felt Vs. Tar Paper: Comparison Chart

Features Roofing feltTar paper
Price Above 5 dollarsAbout 1-2 dollars
Material usedFiberglass or polyester with a saturated protective coatingRecycled paper products (typically cardboard) and Sawdust
Longevity Lasts longerDoesn’t last as long
Cracking problemsNoYes
Natural or Synthetic BothNatural
Moisture preventionYesYes
Water absorption Not a problemMay happen sometimes
Sound reductionYesNot too much
Installation costAbout 200 dollarsAbout 200 dollars

Roofing Felt: Why use it?

When you want only the best quality material for your home building, roofing felt is the one for you. They are underlayment that provide an extra layer of protection for roof shingles and roll roofing. If you want a waterproof covering for residential and commercial roofs, try using a roofing felt. Here are some of the features of a roofing felt: 

Moisture damage protection

Moisture in between the roof’s metal rods can turn things rusty and fragile. Using a roofing felt will act as a moisture barrier, keeping your roofing completely damage resistant. Even in cold winters, water vapor won’t condense inside the roofing materials. Your home will stay warmer for longer periods of time.

Reduces sound 

A noisy home isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Most of us hate living in crowded places and noisy neighborhoods. Luckily, using a roofing felt will help decrease the noise by restricting most of the harsh outside sound. People with homes beside the roadside need to use a roofing felt, or else the sound may turn unbearable.

Acts as a compression layer

Ever stood on a rooftop? Well, for maximum rooftop cleaning, standing on it has no alternative. A roofing felt will work as a compression layer and help even out the direct pressure. The best part is, your roofing won’t corrode due to this feature.

Weather protection

Too much heat or cold can be a problem for the roof shingles. They may degrade before time, and you will hardly know what hit you. Molds and mildew may start to form due to it, causing some nasty allergies to form. Use a roofing felt to protect your home from any sort of weather problem. 


  • Great for moisture damage protection
  • Reduces noise and clams the environment
  • Increases longevity of homes
  • Usable in all weather condition
  • Decreases power consumption


  • Not completely natural

Tar Paper: Why use it?

What if you are fed up with synthetic products and want to go green? Well, tar paper is a great alternative for that. Having recycled paper products (typically cardboard) and sawdust construction, tar paper is both eco-friendly and safe. Here are some of the features of tar paper, which makes it worth it: 

Highly affordable

When we compare tar paper with other underlayment for roof manufacturing, the price is about two dollars sq. feet. Though the price is less, it can resist water, vapor formation, and so on. You can expect about 3-4 years of service life from tar paper. 

Moisture protection 

Formation of moisture in between the materials of roofs can be a problem, especially if you don’t want any internal damage. The increase of moisture means you are in for attacks from molds, mildew, and even odor-creating bacteria. Just use tar paper to get all these fixed.

Easy to install

Installing tar paper is easy as pie, especially if you have steady hands and some working tools. A DIY solution is so easy that you hardly need to ask for professional help. Then again, a professional installation will cost you a price similar to installing a roofing felt.

Climate protection

No matter what the climate it is, tar paper will stay strong. Starting from the harsh cold winters to the scorching heat of the winter, tar paper can handle them all. All thanks to the recycled paper product, which stays strong in all varying climates. 


  • Highly affordable for all
  • Eco-friendly product
  • Installing it is just too easy
  • Resistance to moisture 
  • Stays strong in all climates


  • Relatively short life span

Roofing Felt Vs. Tar Paper: Head-to-Head

If you needed to choose a roofing underlayment, which one should you choose? For us, it’s the roofing felt. We all want a long-lasting solution with a minimal installation fee. In the case of the tar paper, you need to replace it every two years or when you find leaks. Whereas synthetic roofing felt will last for years to come.

Tar paper is also a more eco-friendly option. It is made with recycled paper and will not leave a huge carbon footprint. If you are not into synthetic options, tar paper is exactly what you need. 

When it comes to the installation part, both of the roofing materials will take equal time and effort. So, it’s a draw here.

Roofing felt is more resilient to damages and weather. You can expect a roofing felt to stay rigid in all weather conditions. Though tap paper works somewhat the same way, synthetic roofing felt is just a better option. 

People who want a more affordable option can try out tar paper. Costing about ⅓ of roofing paper, tar paper is the way for most of us. 

Then again, if you don’t want to spend time, effort, and money every 2-3 years on repairs, a synthetic roofing felt is the best option. 


What is the best quality roofing felt?

There are quite a few options when it comes to roofing felts. The most premium quality roofing felt will tend to cost more. So, you need to find a sweet spot between the price and quality. The Chesterfelt Green Mineral Premium Grade Shed Felt is our top pick. It will effortlessly take care of moisture, reduce noise, act as a compression layer, and so on. 

Do shed roofs need tar paper or roofing felt when you get a new roof??

When getting a new roof, always consider whether it will stay rigid or not. Tap paper is good, but roofing felt is the true winner. In most cases, roofing felt surpasses the tar paper as its a synthetic-based material. If you don’t mind whether you are using synthetic or natural versions, roofing felt while getting a new roof. 

Will Roofing Felt Stop Rain?

Yes. Roofing felt will stop rain as well. Having a hydrophobic construction, roofing felt will repulse any water coming it is way. However, you should use roofing without the shingles. After all, roofing felts are just an underlayment for roofs. If a few drops of water leak inside, a good quality roofing felt will be enough to stop it. No matter what you do, don’t use a raw roofing fence and think that it will last for long.

End Note

Tar paper is good and all, but for a better user experience, roofing felt has no alternative. There are natural alternatives as well, so you don’t have to worry about the environment. 

Roofing felt is more resilient, damage-resistant, and long-lasting. To be frank, tap paper won’t stand a chance in this case. 

This is all for today. It’s all up to you which one to choose. Bye-Bye.

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