Roofing Layers – Understanding What Is Under The Shingles

roofing layers, roofing materials

Most of the homeowners will never get to see what is under the roof shingles since this is what we normally notice when we take a look at a roof. Only when cleaning gutters there is a possibility of seeing what appears in a roof but most have no idea of roofing layers and how many there are.

roofing layers

Roofs are really complicated. They include so many material layers and will always need to be installed in a proper sequence. At the same time, proper installation is necessary because you want the entire roof to be able to withstand the harsh weather while keeping your home dry.

Starting from the bottom and going up, here is what you can expect to see:


This includes trusses that sit on the house and support materials used to build a roof. Various materials like slate and ceramic tile will be heavy. This means that the entire structure needs to be able to sustain the materials that are used.


You use this in an attic in order to reduce heated air loss from the home. Insulation is normal on the floor of the attic or between rafters, right over attic ceiling.


Many do not know about this. Attics need ventilation so that moisture and heat coming from the house can be able to move. If ventilation is not proper, moisture and heat would end up causing damage to roof framing, plywood sheathing and insulation. Mildew and mold problems can also appear.

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Roof Decks

This is the material that is right on the roof trusses. Roof decking will be made out of plywood sheets in most cases.

Water Shields

This is necessary so a waterproof barrier can be created. Water and ice can build up near roof eaves. The water shield will protect. It is usually a stick and peel product that would adhere to the home’s roof deck directly.


This is usually fiberglass paper or felt. It will cover all of your roof deck. This is water resistant so moisture can pass through and water in a liquid form is blocked. This roofing layer will add even more protection against water, perfectly combining with the water shield.

Shingles Starter Strips

You create them through shingle snapping or buy them directly. You install them at eaves, pointed towards opposite directions. This is basically the very first defense line against the possibility to end up with wind uplift.

Roofing Materials

This is where most of the homeowners will remain focused on materials, colors and styles. We basically have 5 roofing materials types that are common at the moment:

  • cedar shakes
  • ceramic tiles
  • rubber
  • metal sheets
  • asphalt shingles

Ridge Vents

You see them right at the roof’s top. They are covered with the use of roofing material but there is a gap that appears, allowing moist, warm air to escape the home’s attic.

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This layer is normally made out of sheet metal. It is important since it will prevent the water from ending up penetrating seams in areas where materials meet roofs. You also normally see the flashing put around skylights or bathroom vents.