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Roofing – Under the Shingles – What’s Under the Asphalt, Metal, Wood, Rubber Or Clay Tiles on a Roof
Imagine you are standing on the sidewalk and looking at an ordinary house. You see the siding, the windows, the front door, and far up, you see the roof. Are there asphalt shingles on the roof? Perhaps the wood is shaking? Maybe it is made of metal or rubber tiles? The focus is on what you see, but it’s what you don’t see that really matters. There is more to roofing than meets the eye. So let’s talk about what’s going on under the shingles.
We learn to crawl before we walk, so when talking about roofing, let’s start with the square, the surface area of your roof that is made of wood. Your wooden roof can be compared to the metal body of a car. It is installed over the main frame of the house to provide a surface area on which the shingles can be installed. Without roof decking installed on your home, there would be nowhere to lay the shingles. And of course, without shingles, your roof would rot from exposure to sun, rain, snow and ice, etc…not a cozy house at all!
In new homes, sheets of plywood or OSB are attached to wooden trusses in the attic to form the roof deck. Plywood or OSB boards are installed in a staggered pattern with small gaps between them to allow the wood to expand and contract as the wood heats up in the summer and cools down in the winter. In older homes, 2″ x 6″ boards are often installed instead of plywood or OSB. When it comes time to replace your roof system, remember that a Calgary roofing contractor will replace all damaged wood.
Remember, if your roof decking is rotting or damaged in any way, people walking on your roof can potentially crack or break the wood, causing further damage to the roof system, such as the shingles…and the person walking on it! However, most roof decks can withstand a little exposure to water or ice before they need to be replaced.
Metal: drip edge and rake edge
The drip edge and rail is the first part of the roof system to be installed. It is a long and narrow piece of metal that is installed along each end of the roof deck ie: along the eaves and along the ends of the gable.
Local building codes and some regional codes require installation of Drip Edge and Rake Edge, while other building codes do not. Check with your local building offices to find out. In Alberta, for example, the building code does not require the installation of a drip edge or rake edge. Therefore, many new homes and/or low-budget roofing systems do not have a drip edge installed to provide more affordable roofing prices. However, we recommend installing a drip edge and cutting edge on every roof system, no exceptions.
Drip points and rakes are available in a variety of colors and sizes and can be custom made to fit the needs of your roofing system. Installing a proper drip edge can often save you hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of dollars if your roof system needs to be replaced.
If your roofing system doesn’t currently have a drip or cutting edge installed, don’t panic, you’ll be fine enough. Just be aware that if your roof needs to be replaced, your roofing contractor may need to replace some of the wood decking as needed.
Metal: chimneys and skylights
Perhaps the most important part of any complete roofing system. Metal installed in troughs, chimneys and skylights take the brunt of the water flow on each roof. A poorly installed, brand new roof system can make a waterfall out of your living room.
Every chimney and skylight needs a so-called “back panel”, which consists of sheet metal folded at about a 90-degree angle (depending on the pitch of the roof) and tucked under the shingles and under the siding, stucco or meter flashing on the chimney or skylight. the window Each backpan needs a small 2-inch piece of metal that sticks out 1 inch or more from either side of the chimney or skylight to divert water away from the corners. The water should hit the metal back of the tray and be directed to the side on either side where it can continue to flow into the eaves trough.
Just as water flows in the valleys between two mountains, water flows in the valleys on the tops of your roofs. Valleys tend to have the highest concentration of water flowing through them, so getting them right is extremely important!
As mentioned in the Seepage Barrier section, seepage barriers are installed under the valleys. Although some building codes and regulations do not require the installation of such a leak barrier, we recommend that it is always installed in each valley.
A word of caution: Many roofing contractors install gutters in a style called “closed”. A closed valley consists of shingles woven inside the valley, as opposed to an “open” valley in which the sheet metal runs from top to bottom. Both “open” and “closed” installation styles are acceptable by most building codes and most manufacturers, however, the “open” installation style is consistently different from the “closed” style…and costs just the same. price for installation. Ask your Roofing Contractor to use an “open” style of installation for roof gutters, this can save you from having to replace your roof system prematurely and also save you headaches in the long run. Typically, an “open” pit is installed with 30-gauge, 4-foot-wide sheet metal supplied in 10-foot sheets. This metal can be ordered in any color to match the shingles of your roofing system.
Think of a leak barrier as the “second layer” of protection for your roof. A back-up plan if you will, as well as protection against moisture build-up. Leak barriers are almost always installed above the edges of the edges and metal edges along eaves, gables and valleys due to the risk of leaks, ice accumulation, shingle deterioration and backflow of water in these areas.
If you’ve ever looked at your roof in the winter, you’ll notice ice and snow building up along the eaves and inside the roof gutters. As with the raked edge and drip edge, some building codes require the installation of seepage barriers and some building codes do not. In Alberta, the building code requires the installation of leak barriers on all eaves and gutters of roof systems due to the problems associated with snow and ice accumulation. As an added upgrade, some high-end roof systems even have leak barriers installed across the entire roof deck (as opposed to just along the special areas we just mentioned) where standard roof deck protection would normally be installed.
Almost all roofs in Calgary, Alberta have leak barriers installed, and there are many different types of barriers available on the market today, each offering different levels of reliability, functionality, and warranty, and made by different manufacturers.
Choosing the right leak barrier and installing it correctly is an important step in every roofing system. Talk to your roofing contractor to learn more about leak barriers, how to choose the right one, and how to choose a professional roofing contractor to install them.
Roof deck protection is very similar to a leak barrier. The difference is that the roof protection is installed over the entire roof area, not just in “special areas” as we mentioned in the Leak Barrier section.
Generally, Roof Deck Protection is a step lower in quality than a leak barrier. However, as with leak barriers, there are many different types of roof protection, ranging from simple felt/tar paper to advanced plastic woven sheets of tear and crease resistant material. Choosing reliable roof protection is an important part of a quality roof system.
A word of caution; most roofing companies use felt paper as a roof protection. Although the use of felt paper is standard and acceptable practice, some problems can occur if the felt paper becomes wet during or after installation. Have you ever noticed how paper curls when it dries after being wet? Similarly, felt paper can curl when exposed to water or excess moisture. For this reason, and because the cost is quite small, we recommend installing a higher quality roof deck protection such as GAF/ELK Deck Armor. For a relatively small additional cost, you’ll be rewarded with much more reliable roof protection.
Ask your local certified roofing contractor about which underlayment is best for your roofing system.
So there it is, life under the roof. See how much is going on behind the scenes? Professional roofing contractors know these things inside and out and can go a long way in helping ensure the reliability of your roofing system for years to come. Product suppliers such as GAF/Elk and IKO can also help answer specific product questions.
All the best with your roofing project, and remember: be proactive and make informed decisions.
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