Underlayment – The Hidden Protector in Your Roofing System
Your roof is the protective barrier which Shields your home and everything within it from the harsh outdoor elements. What many consumers are not aware of, is that there is much more that goes into a roof than just what you see looking at the finished product. One of those unseen components is underlayment, which is the hidden protector in any complete roofing system. Maybe you’ve never heard of underlayment, as most consumers haven’t. But as you continue to read, you’ll realize just how important underlayment is in the protection of your roof and the security of your home every single day.
What exactly is roof underlayment?
Underlayment is the protective Shield or barrier, which during the installation process is placed beneath roofing shingles. Depending on the type, it is a waterproof or water-resistant barrier which adds an extremely important layer of moisture protection. Roofing underlayment can be manufactured from a variety of different materials, for different applications. Some of these types include – rubberized, synthetic, polyethylene and felt. Different types of roofing underlayment provide different types of protection for your overall roofing system.
Why Do You Need Underlayment? …and Why Is It an Absolutely Essential Component of ANY Superior Roofing System?
The first thing to realize is the way a roof is able to protect a home, from the various components which have been proven to work together to provide the highest level of protection. Underlayment, as mentioned previously, is a moisture barrier. And although asphalt shingles can of course protect your home from rain, snow, and ice, water can still get past shingles. Wind driven rain can push water between shingles and trapped meltwater from ice dams can back-up between shingles as well. Shingles can also be lifted by damaging winds, and even blow off. Beyond that, as shingles approach the end of their lifespan they can deteriorate and become hardened or brittle. It is the underlayment beneath those shingles which sits atop and protects the roof deck (the wooden layer which a roof is installed upon) from moisture. Where even if some moisture penetrates through or between the shingles, the underlayment remains intact to protect the structure. Underlayment is a second line of defense that adds peace of mind and is well worth the investment.
Different Types of Underlayment for Different Parts of Your Roofing System
What might surprise you is different portions of your roof will require different types of underlayment. Typically, the general or larger areas of the roof will require a water-resistant underlayment which offers excellent protection. Today synthetic underlayments are the most common to use in these locations. While other areas of your roof will require waterproof underlayment, known as Ice and Water Shield and also referred to as a Leak Barrier. This type of underlayment is a peel and stick rubberized membrane used in vulnerable areas such as eaves and valleys. Along with other areas which have a high potential to leak, those being around chimneys, skylights, sun tunnels and other roof penetrations like plumbing vent pipes and roof vents, for example. Any skilled roofing contractor will know that these vulnerable areas require additional protection. If you happen to be watching the roof installation, you should be able to visibly see the installers applying these different types of underlayments to the different parts of your roof.
How This Affects Your Roof Systems Warranty
When you request a quote from any reputable roofing contractor, you want underlayment to be clearly identified and outlined within your roofing estimate. One reason being, that in the event you need to take advantage of your warranty, you will have documentation that your roofing contractor installed a roof that follows the protocols which any and every roofing manufacturer recommends.
Your Roofs Ability to Protect Your Home Follows the Old Adage That “It’s Only as Strong as The Weakest Link”.
Roofing underlayment may just seem like a small part of a big roof. But… the lack of underlayment … or…. The incorrect installation of underlayment …. or…. The wrong underlayment… could spell disaster for your roof. And although underlayment is only one component of a complete roofing system, when done wrong …or… not done at all, your entire roof and home could be in jeopardy.
How to Make Sure Your Roof System Is Installed Properly from Top to Bottom.
Of course, you want to make sure your roof is installed correctly, but how can you be certain you’re dealing with a pro? One great way is to look for a certified roofing contractor, and I highly suggest you read the article I just linked to, prior to hiring anyone to work on your roof. The reason is that only a certified roofing contractor has been trained and approved by the roofing manufacturer to install a complete roofing system the way the manufacturer has designed it to protect your home most effectively. Also, by working with this type of roofing contractor, you will likely be entitled to enhanced warranty coverage, due to the manufacturer knowing their product is being installed the RIGHT way!
Do you need a roof replacement?
If you’re in the process of looking for a roofing contractor to replace your current roof, and want to skip the hassle of trying to find a roofing contractor who meets the criteria that we’ve laid out for you here, and in many of our other consumer resource articles, then contact us here at Gauthier Roofing and Siding. We are a certified “Master Elite” roofing contractor (known as one of the hardest credentials, if not the hardest, to achieve in the roofing industry) by GAF, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, and we will outline specifically how we will install a truly superior roofing system which is backed by enhanced warranty coverage. Request an Estimate Today!
Why Quality Should Be Number One When Investing in a New Roof
When considering investing in a new roof, it’s important to consider various factors which will determine the finished product you receive.
Though some of these factors are more important than others… one is of the utmost importance. What is the primary most important factor that every homeowner should take into deep consideration when looking to invest in a new roof?
Without question, it’s QUALITY. Depending on the particular company you hire, their level of experience, particular skill set, the certifications they hold, and how well they’re trained, are all going to factor into their abilities as a contractor and therefore the level of quality and craftsmanship a roofing contractor is able to provide.
Here’s the thing: it’s no secret that replacing an existing roof is an expensive home improvement project. Especially when you consider your roof is the shield which protects your home, the space within it, your valuables and belongings, and most importantly, your family and the people who live within it. Which is why trying to find the “best deal”, and therefore bargaining with the quality of the new roof, is very risky business.
That’s why here at Gauthier Roofing and Siding we’ve compiled a short list of some of the most important factors to be aware of when considering the replacement of your roof, along with what to look for in a potential roofing company, so you can be sure the quality of your roof, and ultimately your home, belongings, and the people who live within it are fully protected. We call these the roof replacement keys to quality.
What Are the Keys to Quality When Getting Your Roof Replaced?
Let’s go through some of these Roofing keys to Quality together…
Key to Quality for Your New Roof #1 – High Quality Materials
To the average consumer one asphalt shingle may appear to be no different than the next shingle. But, it’s important to realize all roofing materials are simply not created equal.
This is why different shingles have different manufacturers warranties, and they’re made and tested to withstand different types of weather, climates, and conditions.
The first thing you need to know is – Is the material which will be installed on your roof to protect your home a high-quality shingle (versus a budget shingle). To the average consumer this may seem like semantics, and not that important, but to a roofing contractor or consumer who is truly in the “know”, they understand just how important this choice could be for your home and its protection for years to come.
Make sure you do your research prior to ever calling a roofing contractor. This is so you have an understanding of what high quality roofing materials are, what are the best roofing material brands, which type of shingle is right for your roof… which will lead you to the answer of who provides and installs the right roofing products for your home.
Knowing this will allow you to have a level of discretion far above the average consumer looking to replace their roof. Also, it will allow you to immediately identify roofing contractors that carry the high-quality products you want installed to protect your home…. And this leads us into our next key to Quality.
Key to Quality for Your New Roof #2 – Manufacturer Installation Certifications
Of course, the quality of the roofing material being installed on your home is extremely important, however if that roofing shingle is installed by an unqualified Roofing technician, somebody who doesn’t know or understand how the manufacturer recommends that specific shingle should be installed onto a roof to get the longest life and the manufacturers greatest level of protection – much of the benefit you derive from the high-quality material is lost.
You could have the highest quality materials sitting on your roof only to have leaks or other issues within a few years, putting your home at the mercy of the elements.
The way to circumvent this problem is to ensure your roofing contractor is certified to work with the materials they will be installing on your home. This typically means they’ve been trained and certified by the manufacturer on how to properly install their roofing shingles onto your home.
This doesn’t just mean you can have confidence your house will have a level of durability which will last for years to come, but also, when these particular roofing products are installed by somebody who is certified to work with them, it allows that roofing contractor to offer you, the consumer, enhanced warranty coverage, a level of protection far greater than the typical warranty the average roofer can provide.
When looking for a roofing contractor to install a new roof on your home look for one who is certified and one who is trained to install the products they recommend and sell (Some examples of excellent asphalt shingle manufacturers are GAF, CertainTeed, Owens Corning, IKO, and BP) To learn even more about the value of these certifications, you can read our blog on the importance of choosing a certified roofing contractor which provides a more expansive explanation on the topic.
Key to Quality for Your New Roof #3 – Purchasing a Complete Roof System
It’s easy for a consumer to fall under the impression that a new roof simply means having some shingles slapped down to the top of your house. Yet a truly effective and durable roof is never just some nails and shingles alone. Rather they are just part of a complete roofing system, designed from start to finish to provide the maximum amount of protection to your home. But maybe you’re wondering what’s included in a complete Roof System?
Here are some of the components which make this system truly effective.
Underneath those shingles is a wooden deck and to just nail those shingles to that deck without any additional protection between, could potentially leave your home extremely vulnerable in certain conditions. Which is why between the shingles and the roof deck, there’s a material called synthetic underlayment which is the hidden protector in your roofing system.
Underlayment is vital for moisture protection and more, and ANY roofing contractor aware of the value in a “roofing system approach” is going to apply this layer of protection beneath the shingles.
Note: Tar paper could be used instead of synthetic underlayment and there is nothing wrong with using it. It’s just that with advancements in technology and the material available, there are better options today, which are the synthetic underlayments. This has evolved in much the same way that tar paper and other papers, that were used in the past behind siding, have gone by the wayside and been replaced by housewraps.
Ice and Water Shield
This is a peel and stick premium waterproofing underlayment used in the most vulnerable areas of the roof. It is so good that because of its composition, even the nails that pass through it to hold the shingles in place are sealed.
If a leak is going to occur, the most common places for it to happen is within valleys and roof penetrations. Common penetrations are chimneys, roof vents, plumbing vent pipes and skylights.
These areas need that critical extra protection, which ice and water shield provides. Installed at the eaves and in low pitch areas this membrane will also protect your home from potential leaks caused by Ice dams and wind driven rain.
What might surprise you is just how many roofing contractors forgo installing ice and water Shield because of the additional costs in both material prices and labor/installation time associated with laying it. However, in a climate like ours here in Ontario Canada, a roof without ice and water Shield is potentially vulnerable … And sadly, in some cases it’s only a matter of time before water will penetrate.
As an educated consumer, you want to be able to ask the roofing contractor who you’re potentially going to hire, how they are going to address the vulnerable areas of your roof. You want to hear them tell you, and more importantly see it written in the proposal.
When installing a roof, ventilation is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood aspects of a complete roofing system.
A high-quality roof will have good ventilation and it’s important to be aware that it’s not just the rooftop ventilation that’s important, but the intake air at the bottom as well, typically achieved through the soffits.
A proper balance of intake and exhaust air is how the attic cavity should be ventilated. Even though soffit venting is not part of a roof replacement project, it’s important to be aware of it so that you have the opportunity to address it if need be.
Proper ventilation keeps your attic as close to the outside temperature as possible year-round, which is what you want. Too little ventilation means excessive heat in the summer months, and the potential for condensation and ice dams in the winter months since the warm moisture laden air that escapes into the attic from heating the home lingers instead of evacuating out. Speaking of warm air escaping into the attic during the winter months, you should also make sure you minimize this by having the proper amount of insulation in your attic cavity and also making sure that it’s sealed off well at penetrations through your vapour barrier.
Poor ventilation and insulation can lead to a host of detrimental issues over time. Some of these are excess moisture, mold, deterioration, and of course, increased home energy costs.
Pro Tip: NEVER mix different types of roof ventilation in the same attic cavity. They should all be the same type, drawing equally from the intake air at the bottom.
A mistake commonly seen is to add turbines in with regular roof vents, but this creates the likely potential that the turbine will draw air in through a regular vent near it, as opposed to drawing in from the intake air source at the bottom which is what should happen.
A professional roofing contractor will be able to design a roof ventilation system suited to your particular home and also rectify, or at least advise on your intake air (whether in the soffits or elsewhere on homes with no overhang).
4 – Starter Shingles
These are a unique type of shingle which have a strip of tar to hold the edges of the roof down and prevent blow off in the event of a storm or heavy winds.
Again, this is another important component which is
crucial to the protection of your roof. If these shingles are not present on your roof it will leave it in a vulnerable and weakened position.
Sadly, this another item that is often skipped by many roofing contractors because of the costs associated with purchasing this specifically designed shingle. There are lower cost alternatives, but always best and safest to use the specific product designed, warranted and recommended by the shingle manufacturer.
When you speak to your potential roofing contractor, ensure they are going to install the specific starter shingles on your home that are suited for the shingle selected, to get the most protection in the event of powerful storms and heavy winds.
5 – Ridge Cap Shingles
These are special shingles that cover the ridge and hips of your roof, where two slopes meet, which is a naturally vulnerable area.
A ridge cap shingle protects and finishes of these details. Like starter shingles these are also specialized shingles designed for a specific purpose, and ensuring that your roofing contractor is using these specially made shingles is key.
Some roofing contractors, to cut costs, will actually take a regular 3-tab entry level shingle, cut it into pieces, and use those pieces instead of ridge cap shingles. It works, but again best to use the specific product designed, warranted and recommended by the shingle manufacturer.
Proper Ridge Cap Shingles are another extremely important component of a roof system.
6 – A High-Quality Lifetime Shingle
Of course, no roof would be complete without the application and installation of a high-quality, highly tested, durable shingle that is made for your home and the climate of the area in which you live.
Fiberglass based premium asphalt shingles are standing the test of time and the problem plagued organic based shingles of the past are no longer even being manufactured.
All the asphalt shingle manufacturers I previously mentioned offer a variety of fiberglass based shingles in an abundance of styles and colours. It’s a combination of these six different components when combined and installed by a Roofing technician who is certified and trained to install these particular shingles on your home, that you get a truly dependable and long-lasting roofing system.
The last thing you want is a roof which passes the “eye” test upon completion, only to leave you with issues, leaks, and lost shingles later. Don’t hesitate to ask your roofing contractor whether they install a roofing system which has at least the components I’ve outlined above.
Please keep in mind that you should still complete your due diligence and research certified contractors online. Why not deal with the best of the best? You can learn how to choose the “right” contractor here What to Look For When Hiring A Roofing Contractor.
Although it will be more expensive for the roofing contractor to install a quality system, and therefore more expensive for the consumer to have a system like this installed…. Over the years, a high-quality systems approach roof is really the bargain, and any other approach which seemed like a super great deal up front could turn into a money put accompanied by a whole lot of frustration later.
Key to Quality for Your New Roof #4 – Your Roof Warranty
Although I addressed warranties briefly a few moments ago, it’s important I quickly touch on it again to impress upon you that the scope of the warranty and what it covers is crucial. Shingle warranties typically have a short 100% coverage period (ex. 10 years) and then coverage gets pro-rated following this, which means that you get less coverage as the shingle ages.
With enhanced warranty coverage offered through certified contractors the pro-ration is oftentimes eliminated, meaning you get 100% coverage for the entire warranty timeframe (ex. 50 years), so your protection doesn’t get weaker as the shingle ages. The average consumer doesn’t take the time to read shingle warranties, but it’s strongly recommended as the coverage varies significantly.
Below Is A Short Video About The Difference An Enhanced Warranty (In This Case GAF)
Can Make Towards The Protection Of Your New Roof!
The time to find this out is before you have your new roof installed, and not being frustrated later when you find out your coverage is weak and you’re digging deep into your pocket once again.
Key to Quality for Your New Roof #5 – Upgraded and Additional Training for Roof Installers and Technicians
Another great question to ask any roofing contractor is what type of additional training their technicians and installers go through. The highest quality roofing contractors almost always have additional training programs or in-house training which allows their technicians to stay on The Cutting Edge, being able to offer and install the highest levels of quality and provide a level of craftsmanship that other roofers just simply aren’t able to match.
Look for proof as to whether the contractor you’re considering does provide additional or ongoing or in-house training to their staff. And although this may not be a guarantee of quality, it is certainly indicative of it.
What we’ve just done is covered the 5 keys for quality to be aware of when considering replacing and installing your new roof.
Are there other signs and considerations to make during the selection process? Sure, but if you remember these five keys to Quality, you’ll be able to make an informed and educated decision, which puts you the consumer in a good place.
Let’s quickly summarize the keys to quality one more time…
A Quick Summary of the Keys to Quality for Your New Roof
- High Quality Materials
- Manufacturer Installation Certifications
- Purchasing a Complete Roof System
- Your Roof Warranty
- Upgraded and Additional Training for Roof Installers and Technicians
So, you’re now ready to start searching for a roofing contractor! If you’re a resident of Windsor and Area… We invite you to contact us hear at Gauthier Roofing and Siding where we don’t only meet all five of these keys to Quality, but exceed them!
In fact, we’re honored to have won multiple Awards for the level of quality and craftsmanship we offer, and the service we provide to our clients.
You can also see what our customers have to say by checking out our reviews on Google, BBB, Facebook, Yellow Pages, TrustedPros and more. So if you would like to speak to us about installing a new roofing system on your home, we invite you to please request an estimate and we look forward to serving you soon and adding you to our family of over 35,000 satisfied customers.