Many roofing contractors will tell you that the purpose of roofing felt or underlayment is temporary waterproofing to “dry-in” the structure before the roof shingles are installed. They identify that any secondary waterproofing the roofing felt or underlayment provides is entirely negated by the numbers of nails pushed through it. This makes some sense when you realize that roofing felt or underlayment is nailed or stapled, and then a typical architectural shingle roof takes ~800 nails for every 100 square feet of roofing area. If you use a high-wind nailing pattern, that roofing felt has ~1,200 nails for every 100 square feet of roofing area. That is a lot of “holes” in something that provides secondary waterproofing is what these contractors will tell you. They will tell you that you can get by with no felt at all, or at a maximum they will install a 15-lb. felt.
If you read any asphalt roof manufacturer’s warranty literature or installation criteria, you will note that universally they specify minimum underlayment requirements. Vary from this installation procedure, and the warranty isn’t valid. Those contractors that tell you roofing felt or underlayment isn’t necessary will also maintain that of course any company that manufactures and sells roofing materials wants to sell you more product, and they also manufacture and sell roofing underlayment that they specify for installation.
The roofing contractors that tell you this tend to be low bidders, and are often high-pressure storm-chasers that descend on areas after hail storms or other wind events that cause widespread roofing damage. A 30-lb roofing felt costs about $7 for every 100 square feet and 15-lb roofing felt costs about $3.50 for every 100 square feet. In comparison, architectural shingles are about $100 for every 100 square feet, so this savings amounts to mere pennies on a replacement roof. As your home is likely your most valuable asset, do you really want these contractors working on this when you know they are cutting corners that required by the manufacturers that make and offer warranties on their roofing materials? That sounds penny wise and pound foolish to me. Find a local roofing contractor who has been in business in your locale and has a proven reputation.
Have you ever watched one of your neighbors get a new roof? Wow, that house always looks so much better with a new roof than it did with the old roof. There is much more to a roof than just new shingles though; but shingles are the only part you see from the ground. Architectural shingles sure look nice though.
Flashing, while critical, isn’t something homeowners are likely to think about. Do you have a fireplace and associated chimney? What about a gas furnace or hot water heater? Do you have indoor plumbing? What about skylights? Do you have a valley where different roof pitches meet? What about areas where a wall meets a roof? What all of these have in common is that metal flashing is used to seal these areas. Without proper use and installation of this metal flashing, you are likely to have roof leaks. Your home is your most valuable asset, and your roof is your first line of defense to protect this asset. Leaks due to improper flashing is not how you protect this asset.
Drip Edges are installed at eaves and gables, and prevent any moisture exposure to the exposed edge of the roof decking material (either plywood or oriented strand board – OSB). They also deflect rainwater from the exterior surface, such as your fascia board and into your gutter. There are different profiles of drip edge, depending on application and how much protection you want and how much you want to spend. A lot of roofing contractors will use an L-shape drip edge of the cheapest material, because that is all that is required by code (drip edge is a recent addition to the International Residential Code, depending on the age of your roof you may not hava a drip edge at all). I like to install a DL-lip type overhang profile drip edge. Also, there is some discrepancy on proper installation of drip edge; I install drip edge under the overlayment at the eave, but use drip edge over the underlayment as the gables. The price difference between a stick (10 linear feet) of L-shape drip edge and the overhang profile is about $0.50 more per stick.
On a typical house, the cost increase between minimum flashing and drip edge vs. upgraded flashing and drip edge is negligible; but it is the minor details that ensures your new roof will be trouble-free for a very long time. Ask your roofing contractor about flashing and drip edge details before, not after, installation of your new roof.
We are an experienced Lees Summit roofing company with over 15 years experience in repair, service and installation.