Anatomy Of A Roof

March 12, 2020

What Is Your Denver Roof Made Of?
A Roofing Anatomy Lesson.

The roof of each home and commercial space serves an important purpose. You might not think about your roof very often, but you will certainly start to if you’re dealing with roof leaks or areas of your roof that are no longer secure. A roof protects your structure from rain, wind, hail, and snow.

In addition to preventing water intrusion, a top-notch roof improves your home’s curb appeal, one of the factors that impacts home value. If your roof is covered in moss and algae, sags, or appears rundown, it may reflect that the rest of your home has not been well-maintained.

If the roofing materials are in good condition, a potential buyer can assume that the entire house is also well-kept. When it comes time to sell your home, having a good roofing system can result in a higher price.

A good roofing system adds value to a home, even if you’re not selling. Your home will have fewer air leaks if it has a structurally sound roof system. The roof will provide ventilation and adequate attic insulation. You’ll benefit from a roof’s energy efficiency with a complete roofing system including lower heating and cooling bills. Some roof systems are more energy efficient than others, such as those consisting of metal material.

The Ins & Outs of a Roof System

If you’re looking at a roofing project — whether your roof needs service or replacement — you want to be an informed consumer so that you can make wise decisions. Although thankfully you don’t have to be a roofing expert (leave that up to a quality roofing contractor), it’s good to become more familiar with the anatomy of a roof — its basic parts and each of their functions.

Knowing the anatomy of a roof can help you decide on what type of roof replacement or new roof (with new construction) makes sense for you.


Close up image of exposed roof rafters on a roof in Denver

Although this part of the roof is usually out of your sight, the rafters make up the skeleton that the rest of the roof is built upon and is designed to support the roof shingles. Made of wood, the rafters provide an important framework, so they must be installed correctly.

Typically, the rafters are installed in pairs that are nailed on opposite sides of the roof’s ridge. A roofing contractor knows that tight, carefully measured alignment is the key to success when installing rafters.

Wood Sheathing

The sheathing is made up of decking boards consisting of wood or plywood. The boards are nailed to the rafters to provide an additional foundation for the structure of the roof. The roofing contractor will attach the shingles to these planks or squares of wood. The primary function of sheathing is to strengthen a home’s roof. Sheathing also helps to prevent water leakage. Because sheathing boards are weatherproof, it helps to extend the roof’s lifespan and keeps the home safe from further water damage.

Additionally, as sheathing boards are attached to the roof’s joints and trusses, which are the strongest support beams, they help prevent sagging and bowing caused by heavy precipitation and snow loads. They also contribute to the roof’s ability to support asphalt shingles, wood shingles, sheet metal, and other materials.

Roofing Underlayment

When it comes to roofing, moisture is the enemy! In fact, the main purpose of a roof is to keep water that’s on the outside from entering into your home.

Roofing underlayment provides an extra layer of protection. It is installed over the roof deck but under the shingles. In the past, asphalt saturated felt (roofing felt paper or tar paper) was the most common underlayment choice, and it is still used by many roofers today as a good, durable paper option. However, synthetic materials continue to increase in popularity due to their durability and moisture-resistant properties.

Rubberized asphalt is also used, although it is more expensive. That’s because it contains higher percentages of asphalt and rubber polymers, which make it waterproof.

Waterproof underlayment should be utilized for eaves, valleys, protrusions (chimneys, vent pipes, skylights), and surfaces of low-slope roofs.

Close-up image of roofing underlayment on a roof in Denver

Drip Edge & Flashing

Flashings are used to prevent leaks on roofs that are at various levels and angles. They seal gaps to keep the roof watertight, especially in roofs with numerous angles and slopes.

Roof flashings are extremely durable, which is one of their best features. They are waterproof and constructed of non-corroding and non-staining materials such as copper, aluminum, or steel.

A roof drip edge is a type of metal flashing that is used to keep water off your roof. It is installed beneath the roofing at the edge of the roof and overhangs the sides of the roof. The drip edge’s bent design allows water to flow away from the roof and fascia. This prevents fascia board erosion by keeping it dry and averting water to keep it from getting under your roofing.

Outer Coverings

The outer covering is the part of the roof that you see when you look at your home from the outside. Asphalt shingles are the most common outer covering for roofs, and they come in a huge variety of types, styles, sizes, and colors. You can change the look of your home drastically by changing your shingles. Other common outer coverings are clay tiles, concrete tiles, and metal roofs.

Roofing Specifically Designed To Meet Your Needs

The type, size, style, and design of your home will determine which roofing strategy is necessary to create a roof that is sturdy and stable against weather conditions and other issues. Since roof designs vary greatly, it’s wise to work with a professional roofing company that you can trust.

Look for a service that has a reputation for excellence in your area. For more information, or if you have any questions about the basic anatomy of roofs, ask our roofing professionals!

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