The Layers of Your Roof

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The Layers of Your Roof

Did you ever wonder what exactly goes into making the roof on your home, beyond what you can see when you look up? Depending on the type of roof you have it can be anywhere from 3 (slate and tile roofs) – 6 layers of material (shingle roofs).

The main purpose of each element is to create a tight seal or barrier so the roof protects the home from moisture and wind. Any one of the layers incorrectly installed, or worn out can wreak havoc in your home. That’s why it can be difficult to diagnose sources of leaks with the naked eye.

Layers of a Shingle Roof

  1. Shingles – This is the material used on the very top layer and impacts the look of the home in terms of curb appeal. There are pluses and minuses to using all of these materials, but shingles are the most commonly used and the most cost efficient. At Michael J Harris we only use the best – GAF shingles which come with a lifetime warranty on the shingle itself.

  2. Leak Barrier – Not all roof systems include this layer. It is an extra cost, but we feel well worth it. It protects against any settling that may occur and also against extreme weather. With more extreme weather patterns here in the North East we highly recommend adding a Leak Barrier to your roof system.

3. Starter Shingle Strips – Starter Strips are a must for every roof we repair of install. They create an extra barrier against wind.

4. Roof Deck Protection – The roof deck protection material adheres to the roof deck itself to protect it from water penetrating the wood deck. Water and wood don’t mix.

5. Attic Ventilation – This layer helps remove excess heat (hot air rises) and moisture from your attic. This makes your house more energy efficient and extends the life of the roof.

6. Ridge Cap Shingles – designed to fit over the attic ventilation to make the roof look its best.

If you have a slate or tile roof, there are only 3 layers necessary and they vary greatly from a shingle style roof:

Layers of a Slate Roof

Base Layer

While there are only 3 layers necessary to proper installation of a slate roof, the cost of the material make it a more expensive investment initially, but will last a much longer time than a shingle roof.

1. Starter Course – This is the first layer in a proper installation or repair of a slate roof. Unlike shingles roofs which use plywood as the base layer, slate roofs use board deck which needs to be at least 3/4 inch thick, and slater’s felt. The felt will slowly disintegrate over time allowing the roof to breathe through the slates.

2. Slates – slate tiles need to overlap at least 3 inches on each side in order to perform best. Larger slates are recommended because it will require less numbers of them, less labor and fewer fasteners.

Proper Overlapping

3. Fasteners – can be made of several materials such as copper, stainless steel and hot dipped galvanized nails. Remember 2 nails (or fasteners) are hammered into each slate.

There are many intricate details for properly adhering each one of the three layers in a slate roof installation. Each one impacts the longevity of the roof itself as well as its functionality. At Michael J Harris we take pride in being roofing specialists and especially slate roofing specialists because it is fine craftsmanship at it s very best. View the Michael J Harris guarantee here

Call or email us today for a free estimate for replacing or repairing your slate roof:

(908) 353-1700 |


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