Meet Your Roof and Make Some Savings
Learn all the parts that make up your roof so you can evaluate your next roofing quote from a position of strength
How complicated can a roof be? It’s all too easy for a homeowner to imagine it as a bunch of flat surfaces at various angles, all preferably without holes in them. The reality is that many composite parts form your roof and each one does an important job and presents its own risks. Taking a little time to become even passingly familiar with them is a good way for homeowners to save money and increase their confidence when dealing with contractors.
Study the picture on today’s blog. It shows more than a beautiful roof — it highlights all the different parts that make one. How many can you name? The next contractor you consider will know those parts by rote. That’s great if they’re genuine, bad if they’re unscrupulous.
The second kind could use their knowledge to take advantage of homeowners unfamiliar with “roof speak” by overcharging for second-rate work. That’s why it pays to know the basics of roof composition so you can make more informed and cost-effective contractor choices. Here’s Blue Nail’s quick coaching class to familiarize you with your MVP.
Breaking down a roof’s primary parts
Shingles are the crowning glory of many roofs, beautifying a home and guarding it against the elements. Modern shingles are a force to be reckoned with, providing the highest possible elemental protection while sacrificing none of the aesthetic effect. Still, shingles have an underlay of proofing materials that protect the decking from bad weather and the shingles from any resin seepage from the wood beneath them.
Under a roof’s covering lies the decking, also called the “sheathing.” Decking is typically made of plywood, and it is doubly useful since it provides support for the roof and a surface to which shingles can be attached. Decking is an important roof component, but it’s also a very vulnerable component that can easily be damaged by water seepage, which is why redirecting that away from the roof is so important.
Summits, intersections and edges
Running along the edges of your roof are the eaves, which are also known as the “fascia.” They provide a border between the wall and roof, forming a defense that keeps water from damaging your walls and windows.
In some modern passive house designs, eaves play an important role in temperature management by shading against summer sun to lower cooling bills for the interior and allowing winter sun in to lower heating costs. Beneath the eaves, you’ll find the “soffit” which is the finished underside. Soffits can be both a nice cosmetic touch and also an aid to successful venting (we’ll talk more about that below).
Depending on how open or closed the eaves are, that’s where you’ll find the gutters, which protect roof and home by redirecting water away from the structure. Siding rot, mildew and mold are the major issues a home suffers if its eaves are improperly installed and its gutters insufficiently maintained.
Valleys, ridges, saddles and crickets may conjure up images of a Western, but the terms respectively refer to where two roof slopes meet, the horizontal line at the roof’s summit and a diverting structure (saddle/cricket) that redirects rainwater around a chimney.
The gable is where two sloping sides come to a point. A gable may form the frame of the entire roof, or it can be a smaller feature above a “dormer,” an extension from the roof’s primary surface (hint: you’ll spot quite a few of that second type in the picture above).
Important tip: Gables carry the risk of being slightly more exposed to elements such as high winds, so it’s essential that these protruding features are adequately secured and supported.
3 elements protecting your roof
Roofs are more complicated and more fragile than they may appear to the uninitiated. There are three main things helping protect this vital part of your home.
Flashing is the barrier that stands between the elements (usually water) and any feature passing through the roof. Wherever you find chimneys, skylights, vents or even dormers (roof-to-Wall intersections), you’ll see flashing has been applied around its edges to seal the hole where it joins the roof’s surface. Beyond securing the joints of exterior features, flashing is also applied wherever the roof plane meets a vertical surface.
Flashing can be applied in several ways, including continuous, step, saddle, valley and cap applications. It also comes in various plastic, galvanized steel, aluminum, copper, rubber and felt form. Finding the combination that is best for your roof depends on factors like durability, malleability and the nature of the surrounding roofing materials.
Important tip: Ask why your contractor has chosen a particular flashing material to be sure they’re not just adding any kind they please.
Vents are the breathing apparatus of your roof and, in a way, they’re the lungs of your entire home. They’re primarily temperature regulators and can be found near the roof’s ridge, by its eaves/soffits or across a combination of both. Good venting properly flashed will keep your home at a comfortable temperature all year round. It also minimizes the chances of snow melting into dangerous ice dams in winter and reduces the growth of damp, mold and mildew.
The right roofer will know the ins and outs of vent intakes and exhausts as well as the best placement based on your roof’s design. Their skill will have a huge potential impact on your utility savings throughout the year since quality venting reduces the need to heat and cool your home more than is necessary.
Important tip: Always treat the attic as a crucial extension of your roof’s venting potential.
There’s a vital roof component that you won’t see no matter how hard you stare at the picture above: the warranty. It isn’t up there with the rest of the parts, but it’s arguably the most important aspect of getting a roof you can rely on. We can’t stress enough how important it is to check, recheck and question your warranty thoroughly.
Ask your contractor about both important aspects of the roof warranty: materials and workmanship.
A materials warranty covers only materials that directly comprise the roof, providing for their replacement if they deteriorate or become defective before the allotted time. Anyone can offer these kinds of warranties, but they only cover against material defects. Additions like flashing and other measures aren’t covered, nor is the cost of labor to replace the materials.
Some roofers will offer a lifetime workmanship warranty, which means they’ll stand by their craftsmanship and repair any future problems. This warranty is most important guarantee you can get. However, a large percentage of roofing companies go out of business within five years, and some unscrupulous ones could change their name each year to avoid paying insurance and cancel their warranties. Anyone can tell you they back their work for 10 years, but it’s only good for as long as they are in business and continue to pick up the phone.
That’s why at Blue Nail, we are GAF-certified Master Elite Contractors covered by The Golden Pledge warranty. This warranty means that labor and our workmanship is guaranteed by GAF for 25 Years. So, even if something happened and we could no longer service the warranty, your roof will still be covered by GAF.
Important tip: Check with the manufacturer which activities or lack thereof might void your warranty. DIY roof additions or a failure to regularly maintain the roof itself could be grounds to deny a warranty claim. A similar thing applies to workmanship warranties. If you’ve used a second contractor on your roof and it has led to problems, the primary contractor may see their original workmanship as having been tampered with and their warranty as voided.
Blue Nail is here to continue your education
Now, take another look at that roof photo. I’ll bet you can name more parts than you could before! I hope knowing a little more about roofing has increased your confidence and connected you to this special aspect of your home. The Blue Nail team is committed to creating that kind of relationship with all our customers — one that makes them feel informed, secure and a part of the whole process.
From the highest quality shingles to venting, siding, windows and doors, Blue Nail is your one-stop solution for the highest-quality workmanship and materials. We carry some of the finest roofing brands available today, such as DaVinci Roofscapes and GAF shingles, which offer beautiful visuals with the toughest possible performance. We’re also Authorized Replacement Contractors for both Marvin and Andersen windows and doors.
At Blue Nail, we also believe in standing by our customers and our craftsmanship. As a company, we’re a Certified Master Elite Installer offering the Golden Pledge Warranty — the most powerful and substantial warranty available in the roofing industry — but we’re also more than that.
The company was founded on a personal quest to make sure homeowners are protected in every way possible by a quality roof. If you’re looking to keep the roofing cowboys out of your saddles, ridges and valleys, give us a call. We’re here to help.
Working with Blue Nail Roofing means coming home to craftsmanship. From first call to final inspection, we’re with you every step of the way to ensure you benefit from our experience. For more information or a free consultation, drop by our contact page or call 973-937-8876.