Posted on: May 25, 2022

Your roof is leaking, and you’re not sure why. The roofer you hired might be charging you for something you don’t need or worse, they may be charging you for something they aren’t really installing!

It’s important to know what a roofing system is before you settle on a price for your roof. Many believe that a roof is just shingles nailed to a plywood board over the house, but it is much more than that. A roofing system consists of 9 essential components to ensure your roof will protect you and your family.

9 Components Of A Roofing System:

1. Drip Edge

This is an aluminum strip of metal that goes on the eaves of your home to protect against water damaging the facia boards and insects from getting under the roof system.

Eaves is the term for the side of the roof that runs horizontal and has no slope to it. This is typically the front of the house.

Some roofers may install drip edge around all the perimeter of the roof, although this is not “required” it is a good precaution to take to prevent rotting wood over time.

2. Ice and Water Shield

Ice and water shield is a peel and stick membrane that is applied to all the eaves of the house as well as around any area that water may penetrate (chimneys, valleys, pipe boots, skylights, etc.)

3. Underlayment

There are different options for this component of the roof. These options are felt paper and synthetic roll.

Felt paper is the basic underlayment option and is used most often by roofers because it is cheaper than synthetic.

Synthetic underlayment is believed to be more effective in keeping the deck of the roof dry as well as allowing the deck to “breath”. Manufacturers may have different options for synthetic underlayment.

4. Starter Strips/Shingles

This is the first line of shingles that go down. This special shingle allows for other shingles to adhere to the roof.

Some roofers may use 3 tab shingles to work around using starter strips. This is not the proper way to begin the shingling process. The starter strips are made for the purpose of adhering the shingles to the deck. Using 3-tab shingles will not produce the same efficiency.

5. Shingles

These are specially made tabs that allow water to run down the roof. They are made of asphalt, fiberglass, limestones, and copper. All of these “ingredients” have their own specific purpose.

6. Soffit and Ridgevents

This part of the roof system is one of the most important steps. Proper ventilation allows for moisture and heat to escape from the roof. The most effective way to ventilate a roof is with soffit vents and a ridge vent.

Keep in mind that there are specific calculations for intake and outtake

7. Ridge Cap Shingles

These shingles are meant to cover the ridge vent and any hips the roof may have

8. Flashing

This is an aluminum sheet that covers potential leaking areas and diverts the water away. There are different types of flashing but they all serve the same purpose (KEEP WATER OUT).

9. Insulation Shoots

Shoots help uncover soffit vents from insulation. This way the ventilation process isn’t disrupted

Roofing systems can be different depending on the slope of the roof and the structure of the roof. For example, a low slope roof or flat roof will have a different system applied. Instead of Roof Runner underlayment, another material will be used. These roofs are called “Low-Slope Roofs.”

Another aspect of the roofing system that is overlooked is insulation in the attic. You need insulation in the attic. In Northern Virginia, the code for the R value is R-38. For other areas, please check the code. Please keep in mind that insulation is needed but it cannot cover the soffit vents – this disrupts the ventilation.