The 9 Main Parts of a Roof

Whether building a new home or reroofing an existing one, the materials chosen can significantly impact the cost of construction and long-term maintenance costs. Learn more about the nine main parts of a roof. For more information, click the link provided to proceed.

The plural of the roof is roofed (not rooves)—as with many words ending in -f, the rooves pronunciation fell out of favor.

Wood shingles are one of the most familiar roofing materials. They’ve been used on homes for centuries and are a decorative and sturdy covering that protects the materials underneath, including plywood or a vapor barrier. Shingles are also easy to install, making them a cost-effective choice for many homeowners.

Shingles are designed to withstand various weather conditions, including wind, rain, snow, and ice. This protects the underlying material from degrading over time and helps the home remain insulated and dry.

They are also designed to absorb impact from flying debris like fallen tree limbs and hail, which can otherwise damage the roof or the house. This helps reduce the damage caused by falling limbs and can prevent the need to replace the entire roof.

Shingles come in various colors, patterns, and textures to suit different architectural styles. They’re also available with varying levels of insulation and fire resistance. This allows you to choose the type of shingle that’s right for your home and the climate in which it’s located.

Some shingles are made from asphalt, while others are created from a composite of various materials such as fiberglass or cellulose. They are also available in multiple thicknesses and shapes and can be cut to custom sizes to meet individual roof needs.

The shingles are held together with spots of thermally-activated asphalt sealant, which helps the shingle stay tightly attached to the roof deck. Some shingles have an adhesive strip that adds extra strength and helps the sealant bond with the shingle.

It’s critical to follow the shingle manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation, which includes the appropriate exposure (the part of the shingle that will be visible) and offset (the lateral distance between joints in successive courses, sometimes called stagger or edge-to-edge spacing). It’s important to nail them correctly so they don’t leak and to use enough nails to ensure the shingle is securely nailed to the roof deck.

If you have a shingle roof, you should regularly clean the gutters to avoid clogging with leaves and other debris. Without working gutters, rainwater can back up under the shingles and cause water damage to the siding or basement/foundation of the home.

A lot of time and money goes into the outer layer of your roof, but your home’s structure, durability, and integrity depend on what lies beneath. The underlayment protects the roof sheathing from moisture before and while the roofing material is installed. It must resist abrasion, the wear and tear of sheathing boards being cut, and the effects of humidity on wood products. It is also often responsible for a roof’s fire rating, so it must be compatible with the roof-covering materials chosen.

Depending on the climate where you live, your construction type, and the roof-covering materials chosen, you may need multiple layers of underlayment to ensure that moisture does not penetrate the sheathing boards and cause damage or premature failure. The underlayment is installed before the sheathing boards and acts as the main barrier between the wood framing and the shingles or other roofing materials.

Several types of underlayment include asphalt-saturated felt (traditional “roofing felt”), synthetic polymers, and rubberized asphalt. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and there are certain situations where one is preferred over another.

Felt is still popular because it is inexpensive, easy to work with, and does the job well. It has a flexible base layer drenched with asphalt for water resistance but is not waterproof. This type of underlayment is suitable for use with shingle, shake, metal roofing, and clay or concrete tile roofs.

The type of underlayment required varies by area, and building codes will often govern this, as well as the type of roof-covering materials and other factors. It is important to follow the underlayment manufacturer’s usage instructions, as you need to do so to ensure your roof warranty.

For new construction or reroofing projects, we recommend using rubberized asphalt underlayment, a premium option that provides superior waterproofing and durability. It is available in different thicknesses and can be customized with fiberglass reinforcement or sound absorption as needed. This underlayment is designed to be used with most shingle roofing systems and has an extended lifetime compared to other options.

Flashing is a thin material that roofers install around roof areas where leaks are most likely to occur, like where the roof plane meets a perpendicular surface such as a wall or chimney. This helps to direct water away from these risky spots and down a gutter or through a rain drain. Flashing can be exposed or concealed, depending on the needs of the project at hand. It can be made of either metal or a flexible substance such as EPDM or mastic membrane. Metal flashing is typically galvanized steel, although other materials, including copper, lead, and aluminum, are also used. Flashing can be a decorative element, especially when left exposed, as is often the case with flashing around a chimney.

There are several different types of flashing, with each type serving a specific purpose. Step flashing, for example, is layered from the bottom up and overlaps to form steps that rainwater will run down. This is commonly used for chimney flashing, but it can be installed to flash around any roof penetrations, such as a skylight or dormer. Counter flashing is installed over the steps to prevent water from leaking into the chimney or other features.

Another type of flashing is a continuous piece that runs along the length of a roof, protecting the area where it meets a wall or other feature. This is usually a more economical option than other types of flashing, and it can also be useful for preventing water from seeping into soffits.

That roof flashing must be properly installed, so you should always hire a professional to do roofing work. They will understand your area’s best installation methods, building codes, and laws. A skilled roofing contractor should also be able to replace or repair flashing that has become damaged over time. Harsh weather conditions, aging, or general wear and tear can cause this. It can also be induced by gaps or holes in the flashing, allowing water to leak into the roof.

Roof drainage is a critical roofing element, as it keeps water off the building and protects underlying structures. This helps to prevent the build-up of moisture that can lead to rot and structural damage. It also allows the building to remain cooler and more comfortable. While gutters are often thought to be the best solution for this, many other roof drainage systems can help.

These include internal drains, which suck water into pipes through the roof to avoid the need for downspouts and underground drains. They are often found on commercial buildings and are very effective at draining water quickly. However, they can be prone to clogging by leaves and other debris, so they should be cleaned regularly.

Other forms of roof drains include point drains and siphonic drains. Point drains are similar to bathroom shower drains, collecting water from a single point or gully. They are a good option for areas without enough space for a full drainage system, and they can be used with other types of roof drains to improve their effectiveness.

In contrast, siphonic drains are a space- and material-saving alternative to gutters that work by drawing water through the roof surface using air pressure. They can be installed on both flat and pitched roofs, and they are particularly suited to cold climates, as they do not have the risk of freezing as gutters can.

Roof drainage is a critical component of any roofing system, and it’s important to ensure the drains are working properly. If not, water damage could result in expensive and time-consuming repairs.

It’s best to leave roof drainage maintenance and repair to the professionals. Attempting to fix the system yourself can cause further damage and put you and others at risk of injury. Fortunately, there are some easy maintenance tasks that you can do to help ensure your roof drainage system is working properly. Check that your drains are free of debris and that the scuppers are clean, and make sure that the piping is adequately sized to serve your building’s needs.

Troy Robinson