Getting to Know Your Rooftop Layers

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Getting to Know Your Rooftop Layers

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A casual glance at a rooftop tells you very little about its complexity. It merely looks like layered shingles cascading down a slope. However, there are many details underneath those basic shingles. As a homeowner, you should have some familiarity with common, rooftop layers so that maintenance remains a priority at your property. Get to know your rooftop by mentally peeling away the layers. You might be surprised at the materials protecting your attic, bedrooms and living spaces.

Wood Sheathing

Most homes are built from wood beams that are bolted to a concrete pad. Between these beams are plywood boards or sheaths. If you stripped away every rooftop material, you’d encounter the wood sheathing. This wood isn’t treated or refined in any way. It’s essentially bare wood that provides a surface for the rooftop materials. It’s this wood that you’re trying to protect from moisture and damage by adding layers above it.

If the wood breaks down, it allows moisture into your home. This moisture often turns into mold and mildew, which can be harmful to residents. When you opt for any rooftop replacement, your roofers should inspect this wood before they add any new materials to the home. Replacing damaged sheathing during the rooftop service is a common process that only improves the entire home after the work is completed.

Ice and Water Shields

Depending on where you live, roofing contractors might add ice and water shields to your wood sheathing once it’s revealed. These shields are considered specialized underlayment. In essence, the shield is a water-resistant material that sticks right onto the sheathing. It’s designed to protect the wood from driving rains that actually move up the roof.

Mild to moderate rains drop onto the rooftop and fall down onto the ground. Your shingles perform the protective work in these cases. Driving rains that force water up the roof will penetrate under the shingles. The ice and water shield adheres to the sheathing so that any moisture moving up or down the roof cannot damage the wood. These shields aren’t standard materials in every region, however, so ask about their installation possibility. Any investment in the rooftop will only benefit your property’s value.

Traditional Underlayment

In the past, traditional underlayment consisted of strictly roofing felt. Currently, there are many different materials that can protect your roof from moisture. Rubberized products, synthetic choices and asphalt-based items are your main selections today. Your roofer can go over the best materials for your particular application.

The most reliable and low-cost option remains roofing felt. It’s fastened onto the wood sheathing with staples or nails. Rubberized and synthetic products share the same installation strategy as the felt. They offer slightly better protection for the rooftop at a higher price. Fasteners often conform to the rubber or synthetic products so that a virtually, waterproof surface is achieved. Homeowners should be aware that perfect, waterproofing isn’t possible when fasteners are involved, but extra protection is always better than none at all.


The shingles are the visible element that you see on any rooftop. They might be architectural types or basic, 3-tab materials. Some homeowners go even further as they purchase metal or ceramic materials instead of shingles. Regardless of the material, every installation involves some level of material overlap.

Roofers begin at the bottom edge of the roof. They lay an initial row at this edge to start the process. It becomes a guide for all subsequent layers above it, such as creating a level appearance and starting new rows with the same trim. The fasteners holding each row in place are covered by layers that drop down from above them. Your roofers only have to cover fasteners at the rooftop’s peak in order to create a water-resistant surface.

The Estimation Process

When you’re in the market for a new roof, your chosen contractor starts with a rough estimate based on the desired materials and visual inspection of the current conditions. Experienced contractors have the ability to create a quote that’s incredibly close to the final cost. However, there are always considerations that are difficult to gauge from just a cursory glance at the roof’s surface.

Once you approve the initial estimate, the workers begin the teardown process. As they remove the rooftop layers, the roofers might find questionable damages that cannot be overlooked. Cracked or moldy wood might be uncovered during this process. This wood along the beams or sheathing must be replaced so that the subsequent, roofing layers can be installed without compromise. As a result, your quote will change as new wood must be installed for a set price.

Working with a reputable roofer is your first step toward a well-maintained rooftop. Research your given professional so that you’re confident in their quote. With an experienced roofer by your side, your home will always have a strong barrier against nature’s elements.

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