Learning How Your Roof Works

Colorful roofs

Your roof is not a mere piece of material. Rather, it involves various layers that work together in a uniformed system. Once you understand the basics of this system, you should be able to make wiser and more informed decisions with regards to your roofing.

The major function of a roof is really to protect the home from the elements — snow, rain, wind, and others. Giving you another reason to get a roof that really performs. How it performs depends on how well it keeps out the elements. The type of roof you have will determine how easily water or the other elements are diverted. Here is what you need to know about different roof components.

  • The underlayment of a roof is the black paper that’s laid over the plywood sheeting in order to seal the roof from damaging elements (snow, rain, ice, etc.). The use of a membrane is typically required, a waterproof membrane, a sweat sheet or vapor barrier — with the underlayment paper serving the triple function. Better and tougher felts can be used and are even reinforced with fiberglass.
  • Flashing on a roof refers to the metal pieces that are used to divert water from places where it might collect, such as hips and valleys. Flashing can be made from a variety of materials. You can use a galvanized flashing, a galvanized alloy, copper, lead coated copper or stainless steel. Each of these would work fine.
  • The shingles or tiles make up the outermost part of the roof. Sitting atop the underlayment, they form the outermost barrier against the elements. In residential roofing the same basic types of the roof have been in use for hundreds of years are still in use today. The shingle or tile has been in use for thousands of years, in fact. You can find intact tiles that have been in use 5,000 years. Despite their history, however, shingles and tiles are just two among many types of materials you can use to cover the roof. Others include concrete, wood shingles or metal.
  • The trim protects the seams anywhere there is a roof, such as a hip or a ridge.

The common denominator in all roofing is that several layers work together as a system, each element from the roof deck on up contributes to resisting weather.

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