Most homeowners will likely see plenty of roofs while they walk or drive down the street, but they only notice the top layer of protection. However, the roof contains more than the architectural shingles at the top.

Whether you’re starting a roofing project or are curious, you don’t want to be surprised by the many layers you’ll have to use when installing a new roof. Therefore, knowing what they are and why they’re essential is crucial.

The first step is to break down all the roofing materials that make up the roof. Let’s get started!

1. Roof Decking

damaged shingle roof

The first layer of your home’s roof will be to have roof decking installed, sometimes called roof sheathing. Primarily, the roof decking features wooden boards, such as planks or plywood, which build the frame. In a sense, it’s the foundation for the other materials. You’ll have to replace it when you get a new roof if it’s rotted or can’t handle the materials.

2. Drip Edge

Next, you have the drip edge and the metal flashing for the roof edges, such as the rakes and eaves. This keeps water infiltration away from the fascia and roof decking. Most local building codes require a drip edge, but some roofing contractors ignore this to save money or reduce labor costs.

3. Ice and Water Shield

asphalt shingle roofing

There’s also the ice and water shield, the waterproof membrane that protects from water damage. It covers the roof decking when water gets beneath the roofing material, such as on a metal roof or regular shingles. Typically, it’s used around penetrations, roof valleys, and higher pitches.

4. Roof Underlayment

The next step is the synthetic roofing material (felt), which sits between the shingles and the roof deck. Traditionally, the synthetic underlayment is put directly over the decking to add an extra layer of protection from high winds and wind-driven rain.

Overall, synthetic underlayment is your last defense in severe weather, so choosing the right products is best.

5. Starter Shingles

asphalt shingle roofAfter the underlayment, you’ll have starter shingles. This pre-cut row is like a starter strip that goes beneath the first line of shingles. It ensures enough roofing material between the shingle joints and will also help the first row of shingles get sealed along the rakes and eaves to resist wind-driven rain and strong winds.

6. Asphalt Shingles or Other Roofing Material Options

Most people think of the roof system and focus on the asphalt shingles. This top layer can be almost any material, such as synthetic roofing, cedar shake roofing, metal, or shingles.

gray asphalt shingle

7. Roof Flashing

The roof flashing is a thin material, generally metal, such as copper, aluminum, or galvanized steel. It will move water away from your roof valleys, chimneys, and walls. It’s crucial and should be put on simultaneously with the shingles.

Typically, the flashing outlives the current roof it’s installed upon. Therefore, you won’t usually replace it when you add a new roof, but it should be inspected by a professional to prevent potential leaks or catch them early.

8. Ridge Caps

The professional adds the ridge caps once the shingles are in place on the roof. A ridge cap is a trim used on a sloped roof where the two edges meet. Typically, flat roofs won’t have this roof layer.

Regardless, ridge capping is thicker and pre-bent, meaning it will form the ridges. Sometimes, roofing contractors choose three-tab asphalt shingles to reduce costs, but different materials could be better because three-tab shingles aren’t designed for that purpose.

Using the manufacturer’s cap accessory is always better when choosing luxury or dimensional asphalt roofs.

9. Roof Vents

Home Roof Inspection GuideThe ridge vents are often called roof vents. Regardless, they will allow the home and attic to breathe correctly. It’s the ventilation system; without it, your roof’s lifespan will be cut significantly short.

Depending on the ventilation system you have in place, you can find various roof vent products available. For example, active systems usually require power vents, turbine vents, solar-powered vents, or baffle vents.

Alternatively, if you have a passive ventilation system, go with box (static) vents, gable-end vents, or ridge vents with no baffle. Generally, roofers recommend active ventilation systems because they work better in almost all situations.

Why Roof Installation Is Crucial to Avoid a Full Roof Replacement

You now know the different layers on a roof and have learned important aspects about them. Typically, you will replace many of these roof layers when you get a new roof.

However, having these roof layers won’t do much good if they’re not installed properly during a replacement. Therefore, hiring a roofing contractor to handle the roof installation is wise for you. These professionals understand the benefits of plywood, underlayment, and other layers.

If you’re planning a roofing project, learning what you can is wise. However, the next step is choosing a roofer who can handle the job. Austin Roofing & Water Damage | WDR is an excellent choice. We offer various services and can handle all roof types. Therefore, it might be time to request your free roof inspection today or discuss your needs with a reputable professional!

Concrete Tile Roofing

FAQs About Roof Layers

What Are the Three Layers of a Roof?

Your roofing system has different layers, and you may not need them. However, the three primary parts of a roof include the decking, ice and water shield, and roof underlayment, which could be made of various materials.

How Many Layers Are There in a Roof?

If you have a sloped roofing system, you’ll have nine layers on the roof. However, flat roofs typically don’t need caps, so that could be one layer less.

What Goes Between the Roof and Shingles?

Many different layers make up your roof. Typically, you’ll start with starter shingles, but the roof underlayment is beneath that and is a crucial part of the system.