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Roof Repair and Replacement Series - What Makes Up a Roof?

Roof Repair and Replacement Series - What Makes Up a Roof?

As we move into summer, it’s a good time to start thinking about repairing or replacing our roofs. If you’ve made it through the winter and early spring without emergency repairs, well done.  Now is the time to look at fixing more minor damage or things that might cause problems in the future. In our previous blogs, we talked a lot about the need for roof maintenance.

Part of that process is keeping track of the health of your roofing system through regular inspection. Sometimes that inspection shows the need for repairs. And eventually, every roof needs to be replaced since you can’t escape the impact of nature’s wear and tear over time. 

Let’s start off by understanding the parts of our roofing system, and how the parts relate to each other to make a roofing system that does its job, and does it well.


What Makes Up a Roof?

A roof is more than just the shingles we see from the outside. It has several layers of components, all of which work together as a system to create a watertight yet ventilated shield to keep you and yours insulated, dry, and safe. Anyone getting a new roof or repairing an old one must consider all these layers. They have to be installed in the right order and each in the right way in order to work properly. Damage to any of them can result in problems with the others and lead to serious moisture problems if left unfixed. As always, watchful maintenance is important.

Roofing Components:

Starting from the top, they are:

Eavestroughs: The gutters attached to the roofing system which channel water away from the roof, preventing water and foundation damage. For more about them, please see our blog on Eavestrough Cleaning

Flashing: Strips of metal to prevent moisture seepage where the roof levels change, or where things protrude and join the roof. This includes roof eaves (called drip edge flashing) chimneys (called step flashing), joints, skylights, bathroom vents, and pipes.

Roof Vents: The vents that link the attic ventilation system to the outside world. Ridge vents are covered openings in the ridge of the roof to aid in circulation. There are other types of external vents, e.g., box vents, dormer vents, gable vents.

Roofing Material: The materials that form the exterior cover of the roof itself. Asphalt shingles are the most common examples, but others are cedar shakes, ceramic tiles, metal and others. Roofing materials also come in many colours.

Shingle Starter Strips: Strips of shingle are attached to the deck at the eaves and the first row of roofing material are attached to them in turn. They are placed facing the opposite direction of the rows of shingles yet to come, in order to give further wind resistance.

Underlayment: A layer of fabric-like material that provides a barrier between the deck and the roof materials (e.g. shingles). It may be waterproof or water resistant.

Ice and Water Barrier: This is a wide layer of waterproof material, found along the outside edges of each roof plane, beneath the underlayment.

The Deck/Sheathing: This is the platform that forms the foundation of the roof and sits on top of the framing. It is often made of sheets of plywood.

Insulation: This material is found in the attic and goes either on the attic floor, or between the framing rafters and the attic ceiling. It keeps the house warm by not allowing excessive heat to escape, and keeps the cool air in the house below the attic during summer. Both situations reduce moisture build-up in the home.

Attic Ventilation System: Roof systems have both intake and exhaust vents that flow in and out of the attic space between your ceiling and the exterior roof. These openings in the roofing system keep the air flowing and moisture from building up and causing damage. This includes the soffits (the finished surfaces beneath the eaves showing vents as slits or holes in a regular pattern) and fascia (the caps along the eaves that gutters are attached to). For more on attic ventilation and roof health, please see our earlier blog on Attic Ventilation Maintenance.

Framing: This is the skeleton, including the roof trusses or rafters, that supports the roof bottom and provides its shape (slope, peaks, valleys, dormers, eaves).


Now with the roof system basics understood, we’ll move forward to explore roof replacement and repair in our upcoming blogs.


Roofing Replacement and Repair: What McArthur Construction can do for you

We can install, maintain, and repair all aspects of your roofing system. We are BP Certified Roofer and Master Shingle Applicator by CertainTeed in every aspect of shingle installation techniques, good workmanship practices, roof systems, estimating, flashing, ventilation and approved procedures for installing all CertainTeed roofing shingles and BP roofing shingles.

We can provide comprehensive services such as:

  • Residential and commercial roofing maintenance,
  • Shingle repair and replacement
  • Complete roof replacement if needed
  • Roof ice and snow removal
  • Temporary protection for storm or accident-damaged roofs.

Talk to your roofing professional about how they can help you.

Happy Roofing!

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