Your Guide to Roof Architecture

Roofs
Wood frame of building

Your home structure is made up of many different components working together to create a safe and stable place to live. One of the most important aspects of the structure is the roof. Your roof acts as your home’s defense against rain, wind, snow, heat, and more, so it is important to maintain your roof and complete any necessary repairs. Your roof is a complex structure, but understanding the general architecture of it can help pose as a guide to how to approach it with any maintenance. Here is a general description of the various parts of your roof and their functions.

Frame

The frame is the very first part of the roof to go up when the home is being built. Made of wood, the frame acts like a skeleton of the overall roof. This is where the shape of the roof is put in place. The rest of the roofing materials will be built on this wooden frame.

Decking

The deck of the roof is typically made of plywood and lays flat over the frame. This plywood will act as the foundation of the rest of the roof supported by the frame and also acts as a nail bed to which the materials, like the shingles, will be attached.

Underlayment

The underlayment is laid directly onto the deck of the roof and is typically made of an asphalt based felt like material. The underlayment acts as another layer of weather resistant material. This way, if and when water gets through any shingles because of any cracks or general damage from wear and tear, your roof still has another defense through this waterproof barrier. The underlayment also helps with aesthetics as this layer of material also creates a smoother surface to lay shingles on for a clean and appealing appearance for the finished roof.

Shingles

This is the most visible part of the roof as it is the outer layer. Most of your roofing repairs over the years will involve replacing or patching shingles. Shingles are rectangular shaped, and they lay flat over your underlayment layer. For added coverage and protection, shingles slightly overlap each other, often adding a slight element of dimension to your roof. Shingles can be made out of a multitude of materials to suit your need or style, but the most common material used for shingles is asphalt.

Flashing

While your roof is built to be water resistant, there are still a few nooks and crannies that could allow unwanted water to seep in. For instance, if you have a fireplace, you must consider where the edge of the fireplace meats the shingles on your roof. That space between the side of the fireplace and your roof leaves just enough space for water to leak past your shingles to the underlayment. Flashing is thin pieces of materials (typically metal) that are installed anywhere your roof meets another structure that causes an angle or break in the shingle formation. This could include the chimney, a wall, another part of the roof design, a skylight, or vent. Flashing helps guide any liquid away from these vulnerable spaces to the top of the shingles, allowing them to do their job of protecting your roof and home.

Plumbing Vents

A plumbing vent typically looks like a short pipe that sticks out of the top of your roof. This pipe is an extension of the waste pipes that run from the bathrooms, and it allows some of the sewer gasses to be released outside as opposed to inside the house.

Fascia

The fascia is also sometimes called the “roof line” and is the part of the roof where the edge meets the walls of the house. Fascia boards are placed vertically on the edge to create a smooth outer surface, and this is the part of the roof that the gutter system, where necessary, is installed to.

Gutter and Downspout

The gutter system is an important part of your roof and should not be overlooked as it protects both the roof and the foundation from threatening water damage. As water rolls down the roof over the shingles, it then falls into the gutter and travels to the downspout which should lead the water to a location a safe distance from your home’s foundation. Without a properly working gutter system, the water would soak into the ground around your home drastically affecting your foundation. Foundational issues can cost thousands of dollars to repair, and if left unchecked, can cause damage to other aspects of your home including your roof.

When to Repair Your Roof

With so many different crucial parts of your roof, you can see why it is important to be aware of what makes up the structure and how it all works together in order to perform as it should. Much like an ecosystem, if part of your roof starts to have an issue and doesn’t function as intended, over time, that can cause issues in other aspects of the roof. It is important to pay close attention to your roof so that you can address any issues that might come up unexpectedly before those issues create bigger problems. Waiting on getting a necessary repair causes you to run the risk of letting a smaller, affordable fix snowball into something more extreme.

One of the best ways you can know that your roof is in proper working condition is by scheduling a professional inspection. Doing this at least once a year will allow you to catch any small issues before they turn into major repairs. Additionally, scheduling an inspection is wise after any major storms, especially hail storms, as this type of severe weather can cause a lot of damage to your shingles that should be repaired as quickly as possible. By letting a trained professional do an inspection, you are able to rest assured that your roof is doing its job of protecting your home and the people inside of it!

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