HomeownerEducational: N-Z


Roofers Educational Content

Gabled roof. A gabled roof is perhaps the most iconic roof shape. This style of roof is the easiest and most cost-effective option for both roofers and homeowners.

Hipped roof. A variation on a gabled roof, a hipped roof has four sloping faces that all meet at the top of the roof. Hipped roofs are strong, so they’re popular in regions that have high winds and extreme winter weather.

Gambrel roof. Gambrel roofs are common on barns. This roof style is sometimes used on houses because it creates lots of attic space. The cost of re-roofing a gambrel roof is similar to the cost of re-roofing a gabled roof.

Combination roof. Popular in new construction, combination roofs typically include gables and hips. Combination roofs can have lots high and low points. To avoid leaks, waterproofing is very important.

Flat roof. Flat roofs are most often used on commercial buildings. They are becoming more popular in the residential market, especially on modern and contemporary homes. Installing a flat roof involves specialized knowledge and materials. Choose a contractor with adequate experience.

Decking. Also referred to as sheathing, this is the first layer on top of the home’s rafters. Decking is typically plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). It’s the material onto which the other layers of the roof are attached. Properly installed decking is essential to a sturdy roof.

Underlayment. Roofing underlayment is a thick, water-resistant material. It helps protect the roof’s decking from moisture. Most residential roofs have underlayment made of a thick felt impregnated with asphalt. Synthetic underlayment materials are growing in popularity.

Soffit and ridge vents. Properly venting a roof is vital to its longevity. In fact, if your roof has asphalt shingles, inadequate ventilation can void the shingle warranty. It can also cause the roof to fail prematurely. Soffit vents are located in the roof’s overhang, or what is often referred to as the roof’s eaves. Ridge vents are installed at the top of the roof. Used together, soffit and ridge vents allow air to enter the attic under the eaves and exit from the top of the roof. Due to limited ridge lengths, some houses also need turbine, or power, vents.

Fascia. Fascia is the horizontal piece of material at the end of a roof’s eaves. Wood is a common material for fascia board. Because they’re low maintenance, however, aluminum and synthetic options are gaining market share. When they’re correctly installed together, soffit vents and fascia seal the roof. This prevents pests from getting into the attic while still allowing air circulation.

Flashing. Flashing is an important part of waterproofing a roof. Usually made of metal, flashing keeps water out of the roof. Flashing is typically installed around dormer windows, skylights, vents, and chimneys.

Asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are cost effective and straightforward to install. These shingles are available in many different colors. Laminated asphalt shingles have a fiberglass backer to increase durability.

Wood shakes and shingles. Wood roofs need consistent maintenance. They can, however, last longer than traditional asphalt shingle roofs. The most popular varieties of wood for shakes and shingles are cedar, redwood, and pine.

Metal. Metal roofs are growing in popularity because of their long lifespan. Metal roofs often carry a higher up-front cost than shingle roofs. But when it’s installed properly, a metal roof is virtually maintenance-free and will never need replacement.

Slate, clay, and concrete. These heavy, durable roofing materials result in beautiful, low-maintenance roofs. They are, however, a significant financial investment. Most homes need reinforced roof framing to accommodate the weight of these materials.

Membrane. If you decide on a flat roof, your roof will have a flexible, tar-based or synthetic membrane instead of shingles. BUR, or built-up roof, is the traditional flat roofing system made of gravel and tar. Modified bitumen and EPDM are newer options.

Leaks. Most roof leaks are caused by failed flashing around vent pipes, skylights, or chimneys. Some roofers will use caulking to fix a leak, but this is usually a temporary solution. The leak can return and cause even bigger problems. In most cases, the flashing will need to be repaired or replaced to prevent future leaking.

Ventilation. Improperly vented roofs allow heat and moisture to build up in the attic. This can cause mold and mildew growth, rotting, and overheating. The ridge-and-soffit vent system is one of the best and most affordable ventilation systems available. It works with the natural tendency of hot air to rise. This creates a self-perpetuating ventilation system.

Waves in the roof. Normal settling of the house can cause slight deviations in the levels of the roof rafters. This can make the shingles look wavy, but it usually isn’t a roof performance issue. You may also see waves if new shingles were installed over existing shingles. In this case, the roofer must remove both layers and install new shingles. Rotted decking can also cause a wavy look, as can asphalt shingles that haven’t completely bonded or sealed. Damaged decking must be replaced. Time and warm weather will fix waves caused by shingles that haven’t fully adhered. The sun’s heat will soften the adhesive on the shingles and help them flatten and seal. This eliminates the roof’s wavy appearance.

Roof work can be loud, so while it isn’t required, some people choose to leave the house until the project is done. Cover or remove items stored in the attic, and park your car on the street, not in the driveway. When the work is completed, the job foreman should do a final inspection to make sure the installers didn’t miss anything. Debris can also easily fall into gutters, so ask the crew to check the gutters and downspouts for any hidden remnants.