The Basics of Roofing Installation

Many home renovation projects can be tackled by DIY enthusiasts with the right knowledge, skill, and equipment. However, roofing is a whole different ball of wax.

Roofers In West Chester require several steps to ensure a quality, durable covering for your building. The following will briefly overview the process: 1. Laying the underlayment.


The roof deck is the sturdy base that supports all of the other layers and materials on top. The roof deck must be properly installed and maintained to avoid structural damage to your home.

The best type of roof deck depends on the type of roofing material you have and the other features that work from your roof, such as air conditioning equipment. Your roofing contractor can help you select the right one for your needs and budget.

Before plywood was invented, plank decking was the standard method for sheathing a home’s roof. It has largely been replaced by sheet decking, though, which is made of flat sheets of wood that are nailed to the rafters. The most common types of sheet decking are OSB (oriented strand board) and plywood.

Choosing the right sheathing is vital to your roof’s longevity. For example, if you choose plywood that is not rated for roof sheathing, it will eventually swell and not be able to support the weight of the other materials on your roof. OSB and plywood are both durable choices for sheathing, and your roofer will help you determine which one is best for your project.

When choosing your sheathing, it’s important to remember that mixing and matching different roofing materials can void any warranties on your new roof. It’s also important to get a professional roofer to install your sheathing to ensure that it’s sturdy and built to last for the long haul. Signs that your roof’s sheathing may be deteriorating include water stains in the attic or mold growth. Proper ventilation in your attic will keep your sheathing healthy and protect the rafters and beams underneath it.

The next layer of a typical roofing installation is the underlayment. This is the material that sits directly beneath the surface or floor covering and can be a soft or hard material depending on the subfloor and flooring type you choose. The underlayment protects the sheathing and framing from water or ice that could leak under the new shingles.

First contractors install a drip edge at the bottom of your roof to help guide the water away from the house. Then, the underlayment is rolled out and nailed to the sheathing with roofing nails every 12 inches or so. The contractor will overlap the first row by at least four inches and nail in a pattern that is closer together near the edges and farther apart in the middle. The process continues until the ridge is reached.

There are many different types of underlayment available, but the most common choice is felt paper. This is a paper that is soaked with asphalt for moisture resistance. It can be purchased at any home improvement store. There are also other choices that are more advanced, such as 3 in 1 underlayment, which offers both a vapor barrier and an insulation value. These types are ideal for growing families that need the extra protection against vapor and humidity changes.

Some underlayment is designed for easy installation and requires no nailing or taping, while others have a floating system that allows you to simply roll the product over the surface without fasteners. Many options are environmentally friendly and pass the strict indoor air quality emissions standards. There are also styles that offer a foam padding that helps absorb noise and soften the impact of footsteps.

Roofing professionals use shingles to cover the roof deck and provide a waterproof barrier for your home. The type of shingle that you choose will determine your roof’s appearance and performance. Some shingle types also offer special features such as UV protection or algae-resistant granules.

There are three primary types of shingles: asphalt, wood and composite. Asphalt shingles are the most common and come in a variety of colors and styles. They are easy to install and relatively affordable. They can be used for low to medium sloped roofs. Some asphalt shingles even offer Class A fire resistance, which is an important consideration for many homeowners.

While wood shingles are more expensive than asphalt shingles, they offer unparalleled beauty and durability. They are often crafted from sustainably harvested cedar, making them a greener option than other roofing materials. However, wood shingles do require more maintenance than other shingle types, and they aren’t as energy-efficient as other roofing materials.

For more protection, you can choose to add an ice and water barrier membrane to your roof. This is typically applied around plumbing stacks, attic vents and other roof penetrations. It is also useful to protect around skylights, dormers and chimneys.

You can enhance your shingle roof with the addition of architectural shingles, which are designed to add visual interest to the roof. These shingles are manufactured with a pattern of alternating single- and double-layer tabs, known as “dragon’s teeth.” This unique design, along with an intermittent shadow line of darker granules, provides dimension and beauty to the roof.

Flashing is a thin sheet of corrosion-resistant metal bent into shape to close a joint. It’s installed where roof leaks are most prone to occur, such as at wall intersections or roof valleys. It’s also installed around roof penetrations like chimneys, vents, skylights and more. The purpose of roof flashing is to direct water away from these vulnerable areas and into gutters. Without flashing, the area beneath roof shingles can be exposed to moisture, which can cause rot, mildew and pest infestation. Flashing helps keep moisture out of this area and protects the structural integrity of the home.

There are several different types of flashing, each designed for a specific use. Apron flashing is a common type of flashing that’s used at the base of wall or roof penetrations to prevent leaks. It consists of multiple pieces of flashing material that overlap each other in a “step” formation. Pipe flashing, on the other hand, resembles a single collar that fits around a pipe’s diameter.

Corner flashing is another type of flashing that’s formed to fit into a corner where a roof meets a wall. To form a piece of corner flashing, you can either cut a regular piece of step flashing into its center fold with tin snips and then bend it to fit the corner, or you can purchase pre-formed corner flashing.

Counter flashing is a type of flashing that’s placed opposite to the base flashing on a roof or wall intersection. It’s a two-part flashing system that’s integrated with roofing underlayment and sealants for a watertight barrier around the penetration. This helps to direct rainwater away from the penetration and towards the roof’s edge, reducing the risk of water damage to a building’s interior.

The ridge cap is the final piece of the roof and provides a seamless and aesthetically pleasing finish for the roofing system. It also provides critical protection for the ridge line of your home, shielding this vulnerable area from water damage and other weather conditions that can cause rot.

There are many different types of ridge caps to choose from. Asphalt shingle ridge caps are affordable and easy for an experienced roofer to install, while prefabricated caps offer a sleek appearance and durability. Metal ridge caps are another option, providing longevity and resistance to harsh weather conditions. They can be installed over existing shingles or in place of traditional mortar and pointing.

Both high and low-profile ridge caps provide excellent water protection. High-profile ridge caps direct rainfall away from the roof’s seams, which minimizes the risk of leaks. This is particularly important for areas with heavy rain or snow. Low-profile ridge caps are typically more effective in dry climates, as they can protect against surface water runoff and reduce the amount of moisture that accumulates on the roof.

A ridge cap is often used in conjunction with a ridge vent, which creates an overlapping seal that prevents water from seeping in. It also allows stale air to escape the attic, which helps regulate temperature and prevent moisture buildup.

A damaged ridge cap can lead to water spots on the ceiling, mold growth in attics or crawl spaces, and damage to other roof components. If you notice signs of ridge cap damage, it’s important to consult a professional roofer for inspection and maintenance. A damaged ridge cap may need to be replaced, but proper maintenance can extend its lifespan.