Category: Roofer

The Different Types of Roofing

Top Notch Roofing/Siding is the protective covering on buildings that separates the controlled indoor environment and the outdoor climate. It defends against rain, snow, wind, and sunlight.

It also keeps debris from falling onto the structure, preventing water from backing up through shingles and leaking into homes. It also allows the natural flow of rainwater and helps control moss and algae growth.

Shingles are the most recognizable part of a roof, and they’re also a beautiful feature that adds character to any home. In their basic form, shingles are flat rectangular pieces of asphalt, composite, or other roofing materials that cover the surface and protect the underlayment from rain and snow. They are installed in an overlapping pattern and are very decorative. In addition to promoting aesthetics, shingles also protect weather elements and increase the longevity of a roof.

Many types of shingles are available, but most offer similar advantages. Some are made of wood, clay, or slate, while others are composed of fiberglass, paper, or metal. These materials provide a range of colors and textures, so there is sure to be a shingle type that complements your roof’s overall appearance.

Wood shingles are usually cut from cypress, redwood, or western red cedar. They may be kiln-dried or left with a natural, textured finish. They can be hand split, shingle-sawn, or quarter-sawn to increase their resistance to warping.

When properly installed, shingles will last for years and are designed to protect the underlayment from water, wind, and snow. Over time, though, the constant beating from nature takes its toll on shingles, which can become damaged and lifted. Shingles are also susceptible to damage from hail and falling tree limbs, and they should be replaced when damaged.

A well-constructed shingle roof will include an ice and water membrane to help protect against leaks around the roof’s edges, where it meets walls and other structures. This membrane is typically applied over the entire roof surface, extending to a height of 2″ or more above the eaves.

Besides this membrane, flashing is used to help protect areas where roof penetrations occur, such as chimneys, vents, skylights, and dormers. These areas are often difficult to cover with shingles, but they can be easily flashed using a metal trim or other roofing material. If a dormer or other area is constructed with a steep slope, the roof should be covered with a flashing material that overlaps the shingle and is secured to the shingle with an underlayment layer.

A roof membrane is a waterproof covering that protects the interior of a home or building. It can be made of various materials, including synthetic rubber, thermoplastic (such as PVC), and liquid polyurethane. Membranes can be used on flat or nearly flat roofs to offer warmth and insulation, move water off the roof quickly, and prevent moisture from entering the structure. Traditionally, builders have added a slight slope to a roof so that water can easily flow off of it. This has been the only way to shed rain and snow efficiently. However, builders have been constructing buildings with flat or very low-slope roofs. This makes it even more important that the roof be watertight to prevent moisture leaks.

The most common type of roof membrane is made from a single-ply synthetic rubber called EPDM. This durable material works well in cold climates and can withstand freezing and thawing. It also helps to reflect heat, lowering air conditioning bills in warmer climates. Another popular membrane type is a thermoplastic polyolefin, sometimes called TPO. This material is a more modern alternative to EPDM, and it can be welded to create a watertight seal. It is also more environmentally friendly than some other roofing materials.

Some roofing membranes are designed to be breathable, which allows the roof to breathe and reduce heat build-up. This is especially useful in homes with skylights or loft conversions with heavy partitioning. Breathable membranes can be found in fully adhered, ballasted, or loose-laid roof systems.

Other roof membranes are built from multiple layers of varying materials, including fiberglass, tar topped with gravel, asphalt, or a layered built-up roof (BUR). These systems can be very long-lasting, and some can have manufacturer warranties of up to 30 years.

Shingles and membranes may get all the attention, but underlayment is an important part of a roof’s functionality. The base layer under the sheathing and shingles is an extra barrier to prevent moisture from entering your home. In new construction, it also protects the sheathing from damage during construction.

There are a few different types of underlayment, each designed for specific applications. A traditional roofing underlayment is made by saturating sheets of felt with asphalt, creating a waterproof material. Usually rated at 15 or 30 pounds per square inch, these underlayments are not as heavy as house wrap but are still a good choice for protecting the structure and allowing vapor to escape.

Synthetic underlayments are made of polypropylene or polyester that resists fungus and improves tear strength. These materials are typically rolled out as a 19-inch-wide starter strip running parallel to and starting at the eaves. Full-width underlayment rolls are then applied shingle, overlapping successive layers by 19 inches at the eaves and ends. This type of underlayment is less breathable than felt and should be used cautiously, as it may void certain manufacturers’ roof-covering warranties.

A superior underlayment can be just as critical as a quality shingle for flat roofs. This is because, unlike shingle underlayment, flat roof base layers are not designed to be vapor-permeable.

Instead, products like GAF’s Liberty Base/Ply sheet are adhered to insulation boards and serve as a water resistance barrier that also mends together during installation and provides the stability of a tar-based product without compromising the benefits of a more sustainable, breathable underlayment.

Flashing is a thin protective layer that prevents water from seeping into buildings through structures like vents, skylights, chimneys, and the heads of windows and doors. It’s usually made from malleable metals such as aluminum but can also be manufactured from copper or lead and exposed or concealed. Exposed flashing is more common because it’s cheaper and easy to work with, while concealed flashing adds an aesthetic appeal that reflects the roofing material.

It’s installed to cover the joints of these structures and other areas at risk of leaks, including where roof planes meet walls and dormers. The flashing prevents moisture from seeping through the gap and damaging the roofing or cladding. It also helps to keep it dry in these areas and directs water away from the walls into gutters.

The most common flashing is sheet squares, forming an overlapping pattern where the structure penetrates the roof, like on a dormer window. This is known as step flashing. Other types of flashing include parapet flashing, which covers the sloping edge of the wall and can be used to waterproof a retaining wall, and box gutter flashing, installed to prevent precipitation from running off the side of a roof and into the soffit.

Various types of flashing are installed in a valley, where differing roof pitches come together. These are known as open valley flashing and can be a good choice for some homeowners because they look attractive. The advantage of this type is that it allows the rainwater to flow freely over the roof instead of pooling, which can be a problem in some climates.

Other types of flashing are used for different purposes, such as counterflashing, placed on top of the shingle to create an extra barrier against water penetration, and kickout flashing, installed where step flashing ends and the gutter begins. This is to stop water from entering the home through this gap, and it helps to prevent the build-up of toxic molds.