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A Quality New Roof Is More Than Just the Shingles

quality roof

Have you ever wondered what makes up a quality roof? Roof decking, roof flashings, underlayment, ventilation products, and shingles are the main components of a good roofing  system. 

The most common roofing material in the United States is asphalt shingles (also called composition shingles). The shingles protect the rooftop from the sun, hail, rain, and snow and also improve the appearance of your home. However, a proper roof is a system, including more than just the shingles and the sheathing.

Choose a good roofer

Every homeowner looking for a new roof should ask for proof of professional licensing, proof of insurance that specifically covers roofing contractors, as well as references from past customers. Your roofer should give you a copy of these documents with their estimate or proposal. You still need to verify that the provided documents are up-to-date and valid.

Aside from getting quotes from at least three roofing companies (and of course not choosing the cheapest one) before you make a choice, you should ask a prospective roofer to explain their installation process in detail. Then you need to factor in how well each of them explained and answered your questions about the installation. It gives you more insight into how meticulous a company is.  

Trust but verify

In order for your roof to last a lifetime, it has to be installed properly. According to insurance companies, the usual reason for a roof failure is improper installation. Even if you get the best shingles available, if it’s not installed properly, the roof can fail. Common problems are inadequate ventilation, skimping on important materials like leak barriers and sealants, improperly installed starter shingles, and improper flashing.

Choosing a contractor who is experienced in installing a specific manufacturer’s product is important because they already have experience and know how things like the leak barriers, the manufacturer’s roof deck protection, and ventilation work together to help protect your house.

No matter what roofing material you choose – asphalt, wood, or tile roofing, these elements are important. They may have different names, but they all are necessary.

Important roof elements

Starter shingles

The first layer of shingles at the roof’s edge is different for asphalt and tile roofing. With asphalt shingles, you need a shingle with a complete coverage. In tile roofing, depending on the shape of the tile, you may need an eave closure or bird stop instead. You want these elements to form a tight seal at the edge of the roof.


No matter what roofing material you choose, flashing is one of the most important parts. Flashing should be installed in roof valleys and around all protrusions, like chimneys and exhaust vents. Flashing helps the rain water run down the roof into the gutters away from the home.


Underlayment serves two protective purposes. The first one is to add an increased layer of protection against moisture getting into your home. The second is to protect your tile or shingles from the sap in the wood deck.

Roofing material

Besides roof quality, the material also contributes the most to the appearance of your home, and great looking quality roofing materials really make a difference.


Your roof has to breathe. With the sun shining down on your home most of the year, the attic can really heat up. There are many different kinds of ventilation that all serve the same purpose; just make sure there’s enough ventilation in your attic to keep your roof healthy.

Hip and ridge caps or shingles 

These are the finishing touches. The roof peak and any other ridge lines need a different kind of tile or shingle. They not only keep the water out but also help secure the uppermost shingles or tiles layer onto your roof.

Roof coverings

This can include tile, shingles, slate, or metal, together with an underlayment that protects the sheathing from weather exposure.


This includes the sheet materials or boards that are fastened to the roof’s rafters to cover your structure or house.

roof shingles

Roof structure

Trusses and rafters make up the roof’s structure and are made to support the sheathing.


A roof features elements like slope, shape, and layout, which impact your roof’s ability to shed rain water.

Proper attic ventilation and insulation

To ensure you have a quality, lasting roof, you need to have a properly insulated and ventilated attic. Balanced ventilation includes having proper roof ridge vents to let warm air out of the attic and installing ventilation under the soffits to let new air enter your home, which results in efficient airflow through your roof system. You also need a well-insulated attic to stabilize the temperature of your house.

A wooden deck

At the base of the roof structure is the wooden deck, another important part of a good roof system since it forms the foundation of your roof and plays an important role in providing proper roof ventilation. An inspection has to be done to ensure that your existing deck is not damaged or rotting. If there are any signs of damage, then a new deck, usually made of plywood, has to be installed.

Ice and water underlayment 

The underlayment is the next layer after the wooden deck. There are two main types of underlayment that are applied between the roof shingles and wooden deck:

  • The ice and water underlayment, which needs to be waterproof and used around the vulnerable roof deck sections (on the valley, along with eavestroughs, underneath the flashings, and around skylights, chimneys, and vents)
  • The felt underlayment (also called black tar paper), a water-resistant material that is applied to the rest of the roof.

Proper attention to detail must be applied by the roofing contractor when installing these underlayments, since shingle manufacturers have strict installation guidelines in order to meet warranty requirements.

Are you thinking about a new roof? Feel free to contact 1-800-HANSONS for a free estimate.

the anatomy of a roof

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