Roofs are the very backbone of a home’s safety and security. It’s a family’s guard against the elements. Roofs are largely responsible for making your home comfortable. They are the buffers between us and the outside.
But, your roof is made up of more than just shingles or metal, even plywood. Roofing has become far more advanced with improvements to the underlayment. This is the material between your shingles, metal sheeting and your decking.
If you’re looking to build a new home, or in the market for a contractor to replace your current roof, then keep reading for some insight on how underlayment works for you and why it’s important.
What Exactly Is Roof Underlayment?
Roofing underlayment is a material made usually from synthetic fibers, felt, or both. After your roof decking is laid, roof underlayment is rolled over the plywood of your deck as the second line of defense for your attic and home.
Clearly, underlayment isn’t meant to be a standalone roofing material, but it is a great buffer between the weather and your roof decking. Think of it as a backup line of defense for your roof.
Should bad weather damage or remove some of your shingles, roofing underlayment acts as a waterproofing barrier. It shields your decking while you work out the details for repairs.
That being said – there are pros and cons to the most popular types of roof underlayment available, so let’s get into them.
Known also as tar paper or felt paper, felt roofing underlayment is one of the oldest and most popular types of underlayment in the U.S. It’s typically made by saturating a roll of fiberglass or paper with asphalt, and comes in either No. 15 or No 30.
The difference between the two, typically, is overall thickness. No. 30 (or 30-pound,) is thicker and more robust than 15-pound, but is a little more expensive.
Felt underlayment provides a lightweight weather shield between your shingles (or metal roofing) and the plywood decking below. The asphalt coat is waterproof, while the felt itself helps provide some durability from weather impacts, like hail and debris.
Synthetic Roofing Underlayment
Synthetic underlayment is made from tough, durable polymers. This provides additional strength and longevity to your roof, which is why it is the preferred roofing underlayment by contractors today.
Synthetic roofing underlayment provides many benefits over traditional felt roofing, including:
- Lighter weight
- Increased durability
- Safer to install (won’t tear easily when stepped on)
- Deflects and resists more heat
- Almost completely water-resistant.
The composition of synthetic underlayment is proprietary, meaning the materials used are not standardized. With a bounty of companies offering these roof underlayment types, your best bet is to do some research and ask your contractor which type could be best for the roof being built.
To learn more about synthetic underlayment, check out this page from our partner, Owens Corning.
Which Roofing Underlayment is Best for Me?
The answer to this question depends mainly on the type of roof you’re installing. Other considerations to take into account are climate, budget, and time you need to finish the project.
If you’re installing a shingle roof, then felt is the typical budget-friendly option most people choose. 15-pound is the “norm,” but if you’ve got a little extra to spend and want increased durability, 30-pound felt is the way to go.
On the other hand, if you’re installing a metal roof, synthetic underlayment is the better choice. Metal roofing can trap a lot of heat, especially in the southern region of the United States. Since synthetic underlayment reflects more heat, it makes the most sense for metal roofing.
The Best Roofing Underlayment
If we’re going to base this opinion solely on the benefits of both types – the clear winner is synthetic. The up-front cost of this material can be offset by peace of mind. You want to know that your roof has a durable, near-waterproof layer, to protect its decking should your shingles or metal roofing be damaged.
That being said, felt does still have its place in the world. If you’re budget-minded, or in need of a quick fix, then felt underlayment is right up your alley.
Luckily, Buildpro partners with some of the best in the business. CertainTeed, Owens Corning, and IKO all provide types of underlayment, so you know you’re getting quality when you choose us to build or replace your roof.
Final Thoughts on Roofing Underlayment
There is no “right” or “wrong” choice to make here. There are a lot of options and a lot of factors to consider when thinking about what underlayment could be best for your new roof.
For budget-minded individuals, there’s no harm in using the tried-and-true 15- or 30-pound asphalt-saturated felt. Roofing felt has been the roofing underlayment standard for some time.
However, there are a lot more benefits available to you if you choose the synthetic underlayment route.
If you want to save time (and possibly money), consider researching your options and asking a qualified professional contractor, like Buildpro, what underlayment could be best for your new roof. Regardless of your choice, roofing underlayment is worth it in the long run. The experts at Buildpro can help guide your choice to select the best material for your roof.