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What are the Different Types of Underlayment and Why Are They Important?

Roofing underlayment is often overlooked, but the type of underlayment you have can mean the difference between a sound roof and a leaking one.

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When a house is being built, this is an easy way for the contractor to save some money. So, if you haven’t replaced your roof yet, this is probably what you have under it.

When thinking about a roof, most people focus on what they can see - the shingles.  But there are really several layers that make sure that your roof is strong and protected.  One of the key ones is the roof underlayment.  This is the layer that goes between the decking and the shingles to provide waterproofing protection.  

There are several types of underlayment available. Different contractors may use different ones.  Here’s a description of the options and what we recommend and put on our roofs as the best underlayment.

Asphalt Felt Paper

Of all the roof underlayment types, this is the cheapest. That’s also why it’s the one installed on most new homes.  And just like the name implies, it’s as thin and easy to tear as paper.  

When a house is being built, this is an easy way for the contractor to save some money.  So, if you haven’t replaced your roof yet, this is probably what you have under it.  

Because asphalt felt paper is so thin, it will deteriorate over time.  When we’re called out to replace an old roof, we often find this underlayment falling apart underneath.

If water starts getting under the shingles on your roof, asphalt felt paper underlayment isn’t going to protect you for long.  It will find a way through the thin paper and end up where you don’t want it - pooling on your decking and causing leaks into the house.  That’s why we don’t use this type of underlayment at Parish Roofing Solutions.

Synthetic Felt Underlayment

When we get called out to replace a roof, we often find asphalt felt paper as the underlayment. But we know that asphalt paper doesn’t offer long-term protection.  So, we always upgrade to synthetic felt underlayment.

Unlike asphalt felt paper, synthetic felt is designed to last.  It will not deteriorate through the years and should provide waterproofing protection for the entire life of your roof.

Should - but doesn’t always.  While the synthetic felt underlayment won’t fall apart, it is only as good as its installation.  When it’s installed correctly, you shouldn’t have any issues unless storm debris damages your roof system.  That’s why you want to make sure you pick a contractor who really knows what they’re doing.  

When installed correctly, synthetic felt underlayment is a good foundation to build from. But a roof does have weak points, and that’s why there’s one more level of protection we recommend.

Ice and Water Shield

While the synthetic felt underlayment is a big upgrade from the asphalt felt paper, it can still struggle to handle the bigger problem areas of your roof.  When you need real heavy duty protection, you want an ice and water shield.

The ice and water shield is a thick membrane, peel-and-stick protection.  Its self-adhesion makes sure that the shield is tightly bound to the decking.  If you’re looking for an underlayment that will keep everything out, this is the one for you.

Of course, that high level of protection comes at a cost.  The ice and water shield isn’t cheap. 

Our Recommendation

When we’re doing an underlayment installation, we always recommend upgrading from asphalt felt paper to synthetic felt underlayment.  Just that change will make a huge difference in the lifetime protection of your roof.  

But we also go one step further.  While the cost of an ice and water shield makes it too expensive to use over your whole roof, we always install the shields in high-risk areas.  That includes all of the valleys on your roof, around the chimneys, skylights, vents, and any other area that is at high risk for water seeping through the shingles and creating a leak. 

This technique works.  We have a less than 2% warranty call-back rate because we make sure we install everything right the first time.  

And we go the extra mile.  The ice and water shield isn’t covered by insurance, but we install it anyway.  Yes, it eats into our profits, but we know what a difference it makes to the safety and protection of your home.  So we install it where we need to, to make sure your home doesn’t develop leaks.  

If you’re looking for a contractor to put a new roof on your home, Parish Roofing Solutions will make sure everything is done the way it should be.  Give us a call today for a FREE consultation

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When you need your roof repaired, Parish Roofing Solutions is the company to call! That’s because we know that roof repair is more than just construction – it’s about protecting your home and family from the harsh power of the elements. And according to our amazing clients, we’re the best roofing company around.


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