The Importance of Roofing

installing a new roof correctly

As a key system in the construction of a home or commercial building, the roof defines architectural style as well as providing one or more essential functions.  The roof on your home protects everyone, and everything, under it.  When it comes to being secure in your home, your roof is an integral part of the safety calculation.

At its most basic, a roof will shield against rain, sun, wind, temperature extremes and snow.  It is engineered to work with a home’s major systems or a building’s other major systems to provide shelter and comfort while enhancing the structure’s curb appeal and value.

As a property owner, it is helpful to know as much about your roof as possible so you can make timely and informed decisions about its construction, repair and maintenance.

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Types of Roofing

Most residential roofs fall into one of these general types of roofing:

Roof Shapes

There are many types of roofs which can also be sub-categorized by their shape.  These include flat, single pitch, mansard, gable, hip, dome, arched and butterfly. The shape of the roof can either dictate the architectural style of a structure or reinforce the existing architectural look.  

Parts of a Roof and their Functions

A roof is part of a system that can include these elements:

roof ridge made of asphalt shingles
Roof Ridge

The ridge is the highest peak on the roof and is connected to the rafters and trusses.

Roof Field

The field is the most visible and largest part of the roof.  It is made up of shingles or panels which are weatherproof and cover the surface of the roofing structure. 

roof with a chimney and a vertical vent pipe
Vent Pipe
and Chimney

These are vertical structures that are connected through the roof and provide ventilation for exhaust smoke, combustion gas, appliance ventilation or other ventilation.

roof flashing against chimney

Flashing prevents water from traveling through roof openings around vent pipes, chimneys, valleys, and skylights and is located in the intersection connecting the roof to these openings.

two hip style roof sections

A hip is a type of roof design. All roof sides slope down towards the walls. 

fascia board under roof

The points where outer walls of the house meet the roof is a board called the fascia.  Gutters are usually attached to the fascia.

white downspout with elbow

A downspout is the vertical pipe that carries the water from the roof to the ground. It can be connected to a gutter or a flat roof scupper.

underside of roof showing rafters

The roof is supported by a framework of wood or metal installed at various angles called rafters. Rafters support the weight of the roof structure.

roofing felt paper underlayment

To keep the roof decking dry, the underlayment is installed between the roof deck and the shingles. Underlayment is waterproof and can be made of felt or rubber.

interior of roof showing collar ties
Collar Ties

A collar tie connects two rafters that intersect at the ridge and provides stability.

plywood sheathing on roof deck

Roof sheathing, also known as roof decking, is the system of roof boards that are the foundation of a roof system. It is what the shingles are nailed to.

roof valley between two gables

A valley connects two different sloped sections of a roof. The valley directs water flow to the gutters.

white gutters with downspout

The gutter system collects and channels roof water to downspouts. The system protects the foundation from flooding.

roofing eaves on house under construction

Eaves occupy the lowest point on a pitched roof.  They are the edge of the roof which overhangs the structure walls.  

roof section with white drip edge
Drip Edge

Metal flashing that is installed along roof eaves is called a drip edge. Its function is to direct water away from fascia.

roof gable with rake

A rake is the sloped side of a gabled roof which overhangs a gabled roof.

gable roof on home

A gable roof has two sloping sides that come together at the top ridge, creating end walls with a triangle shape also called gable ends. 

underside showing soffit

A soffit is located at the underside of the eaves and conceals the ceiling joists and rafters from view.  It also protects the joists and rafters from moisture and rot.

roof dormer on cape code home

Dormers increase the usable space under a roof.  It projects out of the surface plane of a pitched roof and usually contains a window.

roof skylight

Skylights are windows that are installed directly in a roof.  They provide lighting and sky views while also functioning as a means of ventilation and egress.

wall plate of roof under construction
Wall Plate

A wall plate is placed along the top of a wall and supports the ends of rafters and joists. It helps distribute the roof weight load.

roof overhang in new home

An overhang is the part of the roof that goes beyond the house siding. The underside of the overhang is the soffit.

Each of these elements is either a part of the supporting structure of the roof or the skin, which is the weatherproof layer on top. 

Main Roof Functions

There are three main functions of a roof and a fourth which is becoming more popular.  

A roof prevents water from standing on the roof and sheds it to a drainage system.  It’s second main function is to protect the building interior and its occupants from the weather. The third function is to act as part of the insulating system of the building.

While aesthetics play an important role in the choice of a type of roof, a fourth roof function is to gather solar energy for storage.  The advent of solar tiles makes it possible for a shingle to not only provide waterproofing protection, but also collect sunlight for later use as electrical power.

Roofs can also function as a deck on which to place a green roof.  A green roof is one that has been configured to grow plants.  Eco-minded individuals can use a waterproofed flat roof space to plant foodstuffs as well as reduce heat islands.  While green roofs are not all that common, they are becoming more favored for commercial roofing.

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Roof Repair

It’s critical to schedule roof repair as soon as you notice a leak. Even a minor leak can cause serious harm to your house if left ignored. Roof repairs, on the other hand, are far less expensive than a complete roof replacement. Learn  how to recognize roof problems so you can plan a roof repair, how to find the proper contractor, and what the roof repair procedure entails in the sections below.

Choose the right contractor who will work with your insurance company to make sure your storm roof damage will be repaired right and save you as much on out of pocket costs as possible.

From Start to Finish, Understanding the Roof Repair Process

Detecting Roofing Issues

The first thing you must learn is how to recognize roofing issues. When it comes to their roofing system, many homeowners adopt a “out of sight, out of mind” approach. This is a mistake because your roof is one of your home’s most vital components. Your roof is your home’s first line of protection against the elements, and problems with the roof will cause problems throughout the house. Paying close attention to the state of your roof will help you avoid water damage and save you a lot of money in the long run.

This is due to the fact that minor repairs and preventative maintenance are far less expensive than major roof repairs. It’s critical to identify problems as soon as possible. This can be accomplished in two ways.

Regular Roof Inspections –   A  professional roof inspection can extend the life, performance, and aesthetics of your roof by fixing minor concerns before they become severe issues.

You can also inspect your own roof by performing simple visual inspections. Get a pair of binoculars and scan the roof from the ground for flaws. You can also search for water stains, saturated insulation, and other symptoms of roof leaks in your attic.

Roofing Issues and Their Symptoms

Shingles that are broken or missing — This issue should be obvious from the ground.   A roof shingle may have been damaged or blown away due to heavy rainfall and severe winds or other storm damage.

Cracked Flashing — To build a water-resistant barrier, roofers install flashings under shingles and on the joints and valleys of your roof. If they are cracked, water can easily leak through your roofing system. They protect the gaps in your roofing system.   Weather damage or rust can cause cracked flashing, which requires prompt care in any case.

Roof Vent Booting Cracked – Roof vents are little pipes that protrude from your roof and function to remove excess moisture. The region where the pipes protrude from the roof is sealed with vent boots. Unfortunately, with time, this vent booting can deteriorate, resulting in cracks.

Improperly installed skylights, moisture in your attic, excessive asphalt shingle granules in your gutters, and water stains are all symptoms of a roof problem.

Inspecting the Roof for Damage and Leaks is the First Step in the Roof Repair Process

 Your roofer will begin by inspecting the roof for any potential problems. If there’s a leak, they’ll figure out where it’s coming from, which could be on the opposite side of the house from where the water damage is showing up. Keep in mind that water from a roof leak can go long distances and sideways. Your roofer will have to conduct some detective work to track down the source of the leak.

They’ll use several technologies to map the entire wet region, examine horizontally and up the roof slope, and then inspect the on-roof surface for any flaws or gaps that could serve as an entry site. They can also use water to test for leaks on the roof. Once the cause of the leak has been identified, the contractor can seal or repair any suspected water entrance or leak locations. Your roof’s water-damaged portions can either be repaired or replaced by the contractor.

Dealing With Roofing Issues: The Roof Repair Process

Depending on the roofing issue, the contractor will take a different strategy. Damaged flashing, for example, will be replaced with new flashing, faded sealant will be caulked or tarred, and damaged vent boots will be removed and replaced. To prevent leaks, the contractor will make sure to seal the area around the boot. Shingles that are missing or broken can be replaced with new ones. 

If your roof has been punctured or your roof decking has been damaged by water, the process becomes much more complicated. They may need to do some reframing, then install a new layer of sheathing, underlayment, and shingles, making sure that the new sheathing and underlayment do not have any openings for water to enter. It’s similar to repairing a rotted roof decking. The contractor will remove the underlayment and shingles, as well as the defective piece, before replacing the rest of the roof.

Roof Replacement and Reroofing

A reasonably sized, professionally installed roofing job might be completed in as little as three or four days. The following is the general procedure followed by the roofing crew for a 3tab shingles roof replacement.  

Remove all existing shingles and place them in a dumpster: At this point, any damaged or old valley flashing or drip edging is also removed. During tear-off, a skilled crew will utilize tarps to protect foundation plantings and shrubs, and magnetic equipment to remove nails and metal objects from the lawn.

If the roof is in good condition, make simple repairs: If not, replace the damaged wood with new plywood sheathing or 1 x 6 sheathing boards, depending on your roof type.

Install ice dam protection in areas where it is needed: The ice guard membrane is a synthetic waterproof barrier meant to keep melting ice from backing up under the shingles and seeping through the sheathing, causing serious damage.

Cover the roof sheathing with asphalt roofing paper: The layer of roofing paper acts as an inner barrier to prevent water from entering the house. Rows of roofing paper are overlapped and tacked or stapled in place as they go upward toward the apex.

Apply metal drip edging to the roof’s edge, both on the eave and gable sides: Over the roofing paper or ice guard, the metal drip edge is nailed in place.

Replace valley flashing where necessary, as well as spots where two roof planes meet: Roofing caulk is used to seal the valley flashing to the roofing deck.

Start at the eaveswith starter shingles and work your way up to the apex with the 3tab shingles: Roof vents are added as the tiles go toward the peak in places where they are needed.

Apply the flashing against the chimney, around skylights and stack vents, and anywhere else where a leak could enter the house: As the rows of shingles proceed upward on the roof deck, flashing installation may take place as part of the roofing process.

Install the ridge vent: This continuous vent along the roof’s peak will aid air circulation in the attic space and can be crucial in removing hot air and preventing ice dams in the winter. Although older roofs may not have ridge vents, they are a good idea to install whenever a house is re-roofed. Other types of roof or gable vents should be placed to enable air circulation in the attic space if ridge vents are not possible.

Complete the final clean-up and dispose of the debris as follows: A building inspector should inspect and authorize the installation.

Reroofing involves installing new roofing materials over old ones.  Some municipalities have restrictions on how many layers of roofing will be allowed before the roof must be completely stripped of old shingles.  Check with your local building department to see if you are allowed to reroof over your current roofing materials.

Roof Installation

The terms “new construction” and “roof replacement” both refer to the process of replacing a home’s roof. A roof replacement is carried out on an existing structure and can be either a tear-off or an overlay. Your roofer will rip off the old roofing materials before installing the new ones in a tear-off. New shingles are laid over the old ones in an overlay.

The process of planning and constructing a roof for a new home or structure is known as new construction roofing. You’ll need new construction roofing contractors to install the roof’s framework, roofing underlayments, and roof covering when you’re having a home or building erected.

A thorough evaluation of the building envelope is the first step in the new construction roofing process. Your roofer will inspect the structure thoroughly to appraise the proposed roofing system and decide the best deck, insulation, and membrane or roofing material.

Finally, they will assess the conditions that your new roof must survive in order to build the ideal roofing solution feasible. A qualified roofer will advise you on the best materials for your environment and location and may be able to help you with shingle color  and give you tips on using designer shingles based on their past projects.

Your roofer will design a roofing system that fulfills your performance, insulation, wind, and slope criteria based on the findings of the inspection. Your contractor should be able to give you with an energy-efficient and long-lasting system if you provide him with the appropriate information.

Building new homes and businesses takes extensive research, planning, decision-making, and collaboration with diverse contractors.

Begin by studying the best building and roofing materials for your location while planning your project. To assist you in making a decision, weigh the benefits and drawbacks. Consider the roofing material’s style, color, maintenance requirements, and overall quality.

The architectural design of your home or building should be reflected in the roof. A qualified roofing contractor is vital for your job since they will assist you in selecting roofing supplies that fit your needs, preferences, and budget. They will also be able to help you with roofing warranties for the various building materials you might be considering.

Keep in mind that new roofing installation necessitates permits and inspections. Many homeowners who are building their first home are unfamiliar with these procedures. One reason to select a local, licensed, and insured contractor is that they will have plenty of experience obtaining the appropriate permissions and ensuring that everything is done “by the book.” Remember to talk about who will be in charge of acquiring the necessary licenses for your project.

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Q&A About Roofs

What are the different kinds of roofs?

Shingles (asphalt, composite, wood, cedar, slate, or metal) or standing seam metal are commonly used on pitched roofs and rooftops.  All of the aforementioned roof styles are pitched roofs: gable roofs, hip roofs,, mansard roofs, gambrel roofs, and saltbox roofs.

What is the best type of roof?

Asphalt shingles are the best choice for most houses since they are very lightweight, affordable, and simple to install. They are sold in sheets that are stacked on a roof to simulate the appearance of more expensive single shingles, such as cedar or slate, which are laid one at a time.

What is the roof that lasts the longest?

Slate roofs are known as the “eternal roof” because they appear to persist indefinitely. If you visit abroad, you may notice that many homes in Europe have slate or clay tile roofs since they were simple to construct years ago and have proven to last (and the elements).