Asphalt shingles are the most popular residential roofing material in the U.S. Available in a wide range of colors, textures, styles and profiles, asphalt shingles can be designed to mimic the look of slate, cedar and wood roofing. Aside from being cost-effective, asphalt shingles are also durable and sustainable. After use, the shingles can be recycled or used in paving.
Planning an asphalt shingle roofing installation? Here’s a quick guide to the key components of asphalt shingle roofs.
Asphalt shingles aren’t solely made of asphalt. The components of the shingles vary by manufacturer; however, most contain mineral fiber and cementitious fillers. Most shingles only have five to 35 percent asphalt content. You can choose organic, algae-resistant or fiberglass asphalt shingles.
Organic shingles are made from waste paper saturated in asphalt, which makes them waterproof. A thin layer of asphalt can be applied as an adhesive along with ceramic granules for ultraviolet-ray protection. However, organic shingles are no longer manufactured today as they aren’t eco-friendly and only have a class C fire rating. Algae-resistant shingles have granules that contain a leachable coating, are ceramically coated and are designed to protect your roof from algae-related discoloration. Fiberglass shingles have lower asphalt content and are significantly more fire-resistant than organic shingles.
Directly installed onto the roof deck, underlayment is a water-resistant material that gives the roofing system added protection against severe weather. The main purpose of this component is to seal your roof and prevent wind and water infiltration. While it’s not visible, it’s one of the most important layers of your roof. The three main types of underlayment are asphalt-saturated felt, rubberized asphalt and non-bitumen synthetic.
Made from organic fiberglass materials, asphalt-saturated felt is water-resistant but not completely waterproof. It’s one of the most popular types of underlayment due to its excellent fire and water damage resistance. Roofing contractors usually use 15 or 30-pound felt on residential roofs. Heavier felts are more resistant to damage while installing the shingles and last longer.
Utilized for all kinds of applications, rubberized asphalt is a resilient and hard rubber-like material that works well as underlayment. Roofers install it directly to the decking without using nails, creating a tight seal to prevent water from infiltrating the decking. This self-adhering underlayment features a peel-off membrane that helps tightly secure roof fasteners. It’s also highly heat-resistant, making it an ideal option for warm climates.
Known for being lightweight and durable, non-bitumen synthetic can tightly secure the decking and shingles. It’s great for roofs with steeper slopes since it reduces sliding. Made from polypropylene or polyethylene fibers, this type of underlayment is widely used due to its strength and resistance against the elements and pests. It’s highly moisture resistant, boosting its defense against mold and algae growth as well as damage from ultraviolet rays. However, it requires extremely precise installation methods. Any mistakes during installation can cause it to fail prematurely.
Ice and Water Barriers
Ice and water barriers protect your roof from damage due to ice dams and wind-driven rain. This waterproof underlayment membrane is designed to protect the vulnerable areas of your roof from ice and water damage. It usually features a modified bitumen adhesive back surface covered by a release film. Roofers remove this film during installation to make sure the membrane adheres properly to the roof and forms a watertight seal around nail penetrations.
These membranes feature a slip-resistant top surface that gives the roofers better traction during installation. Covering the entirety of your roof with an ice and water barrier can help prevent leaks following severe weather, or when shingles blow-off due to high winds. By preventing the damage from worsening, this technology makes it easier for your contractor to repair your roof. If you’re considering completely covering your roof with these membranes, you need to first ensure that your attic has sufficient ventilation.
Used to waterproof the eave and rake edges of your home during a roof replacement, starter strips are essential components to your new roof. The color of starter strips usually doesn’t matter since roof shingles lay above them. They are typically manufactured in a rectangular shingle shape, making them compatible with any overlying shingle style. Also, they are made from the same material as most fiberglass-reinforced asphalt shingles.
At the eves, starter shingles cover the joints between the finishing shingles, ensuring complete water-shedding roof protection. This component has a sealant strip, and, when placed correctly, is located on the top part and at the lowest edge of the roofing system. Starter shingles function differently when installed at the rake edges. At the rake, the starter strip plays a major role in the roof’s wind resistance. It also gives your roofer a straight line, which they can use as a guide when ending each layer of the field shingles.
Hip and Ridge
Hip and ridge shingles add a finishing touch to your new roof. Experienced roofers install them at the peak of the system to bridge together two slopes of a roof for weathertight protection. They can last as long as the roofing shingles, making it important to choose ones that match the look and color of your shingles. Some roofing shingles need special hip and ridge shingles to function properly.
This roofing component comes in a wide range of profiles or thicknesses, which can add more visual appeal to your roof. Many high-quality hip and ridge shingles are made with a modified asphalt material that improves durability and flexibility in cold weather applications.
Roof ventilation systems provide continuous airflow to attic spaces. It allows warm, moist air to escape from your attic, helping prevent the space from getting too hot. High attic temperatures can cause damage to both your roof and interior. There are various types of vents that can be installed in different parts of the roof to encourage proper air circulation.
Correct ventilation design and construction are essential to your roofing system. The design of your roof should allow for generous air space for insulation and airflow under the roof and eaves. With a well-designed system, you can ensure a good balance between intake and exhaust ventilation under the roof. This helps ensure that conditioned air won’t escape too fast through the vents, helping reduce your energy bills.
The most widely used types of vents for roofs include ridge, static and gable vents. Ridge vents run along the top of the roof, creating an external barrier to improve airflow and protect your home from the elements. Static vents are horizontal openings or vent-covered holes that let air circulate properly. Gable vents are installed at the ends of the attic and can be combined with other types of vents.
To avoid costly repairs and premature roof failure, make sure to maintain your roof ventilation system regularly. Hire a reputable roofing company to inspect your ventilation system for damage after extreme weather events. There shouldn’t be anything blocking the vents, such as seeds, branches, leaves or other debris. You should also regularly inspect your attic and roof deck for signs of moisture or water damage. Make sure that your attic insulation is in good shape and properly installed so your home stays comfortable throughout the changing seasons.