Getting Your Home Repaired

Making A Cake Or Roofing A House – It's All In The Layers

Much of the United States experiences extremes in weather conditions. If you're in the "snow belt" you get plenty of the white stuff piled on your roof, with perhaps a touch of freezing rain. The Pacific Northwest is subject to torrential rains, mostly in the fall and winter, but anything can happen. If you are in the market for a new roof, it pays to know the layers needed to keep your home warm and dry. You, along with your roofing contractor, can then make an informed decision about your new roof. Below you'll find information on the various layers and shingle types that make up that "roof cake."

The Roof Layers

Self-Sealing Barrier

All roofs have seams. A self-sealing barrier is used to prevent moisture from creeping in from around skylights, near the eaves and dormers. The latter is a window that is built out from the roof line. These are usually rectangular in shape with a peaked "mini-roof" that is attached to the main roof. It is an architectural style seen often on Victorian or Cape Cod style homes. The barrier material comes in strips or rolls and can be opaque or clear.

Roof Underlay

The next layer is the roof underlayment. This waterproof material, usually made of fibreglass and reinforced felt, comes in large rolls. It's laid out over the entire roof, and acts as a barrier to rain and snow melt. It is effective at protecting your roof from water that is driven under the shingles during high winds and torrential rains.

Starter Strip Shingles

Starter strip shingles are placed at the edges of your roof, along the eaves and on the rake. The rake is the overhang found over entry ways and some types of windows, like the dormers described above. These come in strips or rolls, have an adhesive backing and are applied in one continuous piece to prevent leaks.

Main Shingles

Shingles are the parts of a roof that everyone notices. They give your home personality and add curb appeal, and are available in several varieties. In the residential market, these are some of the most popular.

  • Asphalt shingles are a staple in the roofing industry. Their overlapping design makes them an excellent choice for slanted, or sloped, roofs. The roofer starts at the bottom of the roof and works his way up. The first shingle is nailed in place, and the second sits over the top half of the first shingle. This prevents water from getting caught in seams as it runs down the roof. Asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors, so it's easy to match your home décor.
  • A take-off on the asphalt shingle is the solar shingle. These are made with photo-voltaic cells that generate electricity, just like a solar panel. These shingles are used along with the regular asphalt shingles, placed on the parts of your roof that get the most sun. They are typically more expensive than regular shingles, but the cost is often offset by lower utility bills and incentives sometimes offered by government agencies.
  • Wood and shake shingles give a rustic look to homes and are particularly popular in rural areas. Historically, wood shingles were hand cut pieces of wood. Today they are made of real wood or a synthetic material. Popular woods include pine, redwood, cedar and cypress.

Hip and Ridge Caps

These are the finishing touches to your roof, the final decorations on your "roof cake." These are shingles that have a fold in the middle so they will easily fit over the peaks and ridges. These also overlap, starting from the bottom of the roof. Water follows the ridge lines down to the gutters and the downspouts, safely depositing it away from the home's foundation.  All homes, except those with flat roofs, have at least one. Victorian, Edwardian or Cape Cod style homes usually have several because of their more intricate architectural features.

Talk to your contractor, someone like Trinity Contracting & Construction, about what will work best for your roof. 


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