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Understanding the Anatomy of a Roof
Everyone knows what roofing is. And I’m pretty sure everyone appreciates what it does. It is shelter for you and those you care about and things you value. Most of us just want it to work; and aren’t exactly interested in learning all of the components that make a roof effective. But not you. You are here, reading this article, to get an education on dwelling coverage. Welcome.
Your roof sheds water, but it takes more than just nailed down shingles to get that water to the ground without incident. There is a collection of roofing components that protect the dwelling from rain, snow, wind and other extreme weather events. If you understand what makes it work, and you have a working knowledge of each piece, you can more effectively assess potential issues and explain to a Roofing San Antonio professional your concerns and desires.
Structural Components of a Pitched Roof
Roofing comes in all different dimensions and sizes, but there are some common terms that will be beneficial for you to know about and understand, no matter the project. Before we get into the anatomy and connections that make up the roofing, here are some key terms to understand:
- Roof Plane: The visible face of the pitched roof.
- Ridge: The top portions of the cover, where roof planes meet.
- Hip: When two roof facings connect together and protrude outward.
- Valley: When two roof facings which are pitched connect and protrude inward.
- Dormer: A specific section where the roofing projects out, usually housing a window.
- Gable: This is the structure underneath the connecting roof planes: usually a triangle.
The Anatomy of a traditional Residential Roof with Pitch
The best way to describe this connection of elements is to start at the bottom and work our way up.
- Roofing Framing: Rafter, Trusses, Joists, and Decking
We have all seen the wooden framing that goes up first and fastest in the construction of a new home. These wooden elements include terms like the joists, trusses and rafters. These extend up to the peak of the home and serve as the foundation for the roof to be built upon and secured. Once it is completed, the first roofing step is called decking. This is thin wood sheeting, which will be the full coverage base for the rest of the roofing to affix to. There is some variety in the type of material used, but most San Antonio Roofing Companies will lay traditional plywood or perhaps oriented strand board.
- Roofing Underlay
Roofing underlay is a barrier affixed to the decking as a protector of the wood beneath and the home. Most San Antonio Roofing Companies will use a fabric-like material, consisting of felt saturated in asphalt. This important addition carries a series of significant benefits.
- The decking can release resin over time. Roofing underlay prevents that resin from getting to the shingles and affecting their integrity or the look of the shingles.
- The shingles are designed to repel all rainwater. But if any amount gets through, the underlay serves as secondary protection against moisture reaching the decking.
- Decking wooden panels can expand or contract in changing conditions. This can leave ridges or uneven edges. If these imperfections are matched by the shingles, the aesthetics of the roof will be affected. The underlay coats the decking and keeps imperfections from influencing the look or function of the shingles.
- The material used for underlay is resistant to fire, which has obvious safety benefits.
While the asphalt saturated felt is a common form of roofing underlay, a newer, synthetic material has become more popular in recent years. It is lightweight and easier to install. The newer synthetic fabric also offers options that may not be available in traditional underlay. For example, Elite Roofing Solutions can offer you options that will absorb less heat, providing benefits for the shingles and the home.
Another roofing underlay option can defend the structure from ice collection and wind driven rain issues. Some of these newer products self-adhere and are easily installed and provide excellent weather protection. Other specific choices might specialize in other benefits, like allowing less water vapor to pass through them to the decking below.
Which underlay do you need? Well, when you type in “Roofing Contractors San Antonio TX,” there will be many companies from which to choose. Not all of them will be able to answer this question effectively. But a certified professional roofing company will be able assess your home’s climate, age and pitch, to maximize homeowner benefit. Not all choices are wise ones. For instance, if the attic does not have proper ventilation, then an ice and water protector could actually make the situation more vulnerable to problems. Yet with proper venting, this protector can actually be greatly beneficial in high winds or hurricane prone areas. The team at Elite Roofing Solutions will walk you through these options.
- Roof Metal Flashing
Of all the elements involved in a roofing project, flashing is probably the least understood by the average homeowner. The best way to understand its value is to think of a chimney. A chimney is placed in a hole in the roof. There is a cap on top of it to keep water from coming down the chute. But what about the area around the chimney. What keeps water from getting in there? If you’ve ever tried to keep water from getting through open cracks or seams, you know what a challenge that can be. This is where flashing is used.
Flashing is a sheet, usually made of metal, that roofing specialists install around the object that runs perpendicular to the roof plane. For instance, in the case of a chimney, the installer would bend the metal 90 degrees and run it over all open seams. The section that extends along the roof plane is tucked under the shingles.
This metal sheeting has a variety of applications. You may notice it on roofs in your neighborhood. Here are a few situations where it is needful.
- Skylights – Some skylights have built-in flashing affixed to the feature. This is usually the case with deck-mounted pieces that are installed directly to the roof deck. However, a professional roof installer is equipped to mount flashing around skylights if not already in place.
- Plumbing Vents – There is no avoiding the need for venting in association with bathrooms. This can provide a place for moisture to enter the home, but not with properly installed flashing.
- Roof Vents – Venting is important for other parts of the home as well. There are attic ventilation pieces, vents for gables, as well as ridge and soffit vents. These are all about letting air escape the home or attic area. However, where air gets out, water tries to get in. Surrounding all of these with flashing helps secure the area.
Sometimes the architectural features of a roof-line might demand additional flashing for protection. These features create the shape of the structure. Here are examples of sections that need flashing.
- Valleys – In many roofing projects, there are areas where roof planes come together. This creates a V shape. Naturally, water will flow to that area and then run down that valley to the end of the roof line. Flashing is shaped like a V or maybe a W and placed along the connection area. Sometimes shingles can be used in a woven pattern, but usually flashing is a better choice.
- Dormers – Remember that dormers are areas the protrude from the roof line, like areas where a window might be placed and shielded with shingles. The area where these dormers interact with the roof face is susceptible to water leakage. Flashing is shaped to affix to both angles and is then covered by shingles.
- Roof Shingles
The final component is the most readily identifiable: the shingles. Long ago, wooden and slate materials were commonly used as shingles. But for the last century or so, asphalt shingles have become the most commonly used material for residential structures in America. These typically fit into three categories.
- Three Tab (or traditional) Shingles all have the same size and shaping, so that create a uniform look on a structure. These are usually the least expensive asphalt option and last for years.
- Laminate (or architectural) Shingles have a more three-dimensional appearance, with accent tabs of different inflections and sizes to add to the look. These are typically more desirable and have a bit more upfront cost.
- Premium Shingles offer heavier duty coverage and visible variety and enhancement over the previous two options. Elite Roofing Solutions associates can show you many options. For instance, some products look like wood shake roofing but with excellent fire resistance.
At the eave edges of the roofing project, a starter strip is the first to be applied. Elite Roofing Solutions has modern and reliable product options for these starter shingles. After this, shingles need to be sealed to one another. Elite Roofing Solutions team members will first place shingles and affix them with nails. But in the sunlight, the shingles will heat activate and sealant will connect them securely. This offers added benefit against high winds. If your roofing is installed in lower temperatures, our professional installers can manually seal the shingles to ensure protection against wind until the warm weather comes to engage the sealant.
There is also a special type of shingle that can be installed along a roof’s edges, ridges and hips. These are called Hip and Ridge Cap shingles and are manufactured to conform to the shape and angle needed. Premium versions of these shingles can be used by Elite Roofing Solutions, like UltraHP, and have an enhanced profile look that is aesthetically pleasing to many.
Shingles can also serve other functions on the roof, beyond rain and wind protection.
- Solar reflective and thermal emission shingles – Certain products are specially designed to emit heat or reflect heat, like Elite Roofing Solution’s Cambridge Cool Colors. These provide extra protection from the sun’s heat and help to keep the home cool.
- Mock slate shingles – Manufacturers design some products to mimic the look of others types of shingles, like wood or slate.
The Particulars of the Roof’s Edge
So far, we have discussed the majority of the roofing pieces and purposes. But there is more that is needed. You don’t want water to just roll off your shingled and down the side of your house. This will cause dirt and damage to brick and siding. Also, water would collect at the base of your home and could certainly cause foundation issues over time. So, where the roof ends, drainage pieces are needed to direct water to the appropriate places.
There are two types of edged on a roof that must be addressed: eaves and rakes. Eaves are basic edges that hang over the exterior wall. These are the typical long sections you see along most residential roofs. A rake is the sloped edge where the roof protrudes over the exterior wall. Naturally, water won’t pool on the rakes, but will flow down to the eaves. But wind driven rain can wreak havoc on poorly protected rakes. Our team of professionals have access to a variety of products to properly secure these areas.
- Drip Edges – The eaves flashing is the area at the edge of the roof where the water flows. This bit of metal directs the water into the installed gutters. Professional installers often place this drip edge down even before the underlay goes down on the eaves. If no drip edge is installed, the water could flow down the side of the house and cause issues later.
- Fascia – This is the topmost area of the exterior where it meets the edge of the roof. The install team places drip edges at the top of the fascia, and the rain gutter is then affixed to it.
- Downspouts and Gutters – Gutters are the troughs that usher the water are from the roof line and to a safe disposal point. These are sometimes constructed with metal, but also can be purchased as plastic. These connect to the downspouts, which help the water get to the ground and away from the home without causing a mess or damage to the home. Again, foundation issues can develop over time if this system is not properly installed.
- Soffit – Soffits are increasing in popularity, as they serve an aesthetic and practical benefit to the homeowner. They are often perforated and extend along the underside of the roof that is extended past the structure. These can be installed in a variety of colors or patterns, to compliment the color of the brick or paneling. Also, they add venting ability to the attic.
Each and every piece of the roof project work together as a system to protect your home from the elements and drain water away from the dwelling. Having a working knowledge of the parts and their purpose, the anatomy of a roof, can help you identify issues and communicate them to Elite Roofing Solutions, so that we can meet your exact needs and deliver excellent service.