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Elements of a Premium Roof

 

A premium roof not only uses premium, high value shingles, but must also be installed according to the best roofing practices, and take into account overall aesthetics of your home. A well applied, premium shingle roof will give you the long-term protection you need, and enhance both the pleasure you get from your home, and its resale value.

In order to better understand a premium roof, it may be helpful to become familiar with some of the terminology that is commonly used in the roofing industry.  The following terms are used to describe various premium roof components.

THE DECK:
The deck is your roof’s foundation.  To have a solid foundation, a solid deck is a must.  Plywood decks that are at least ½ inch thick are best.  Any part of the deck that is rotten or warped must be replaced.

EAVE PROTECTION:
Considerable damage can be caused to the eaves as a result of ice build-up during winter freeze/thaw cycles.  It is recommended that a specialized modified bitumen sheet (ice and water self-sealing membrane) be used at the eaves, though other types of membranes are acceptable.

EAVE EDGE TREATMENT:
For efficient water shedding at the roof’s edge, and to keep water from staining the fascia, painted metal drip edges should be installed along the rakes and eaves. The metal drip edge should be positioned under the eaves protection membrane at the eaves edge, and over the eaves protection (or underlayment) at the rake.

UNDERLAYMENT:
To shed water that may be driven under the shingles by high winds, an extra layer of protection is prudent.  For the average roof, one ply of standard asphalt sheating or #15 felt must be installed over the entire roof.

On roofs with lower slopes, a self-sealing membrane underlayment requires the use of 25 or 30-year shingles, and enables the use of premium, three tab shingles, which offer full warranty coverage.

There are different levels of underlayment that are acceptable to obtain a proper low slope application. For a better eaves protection system, one layer of self-sealing membrane must be installed and extended from the edge of the metal eve starter strip to a maximum of 24” beyond the interior wall. Ideally, roofs with a low slope should be covered entirely with any form of self-sealing membrane, for maximum eaves protection.

VALLEY TREATMENT:
The valley, made of pre-painted, galvanized sheet metal, is a spot where snow and ice can build up, especially for roofs with lower pitches.  An ice and water membrane should be installed at the metal valley flashing.

FLASHING SYSTEMS:
Flashing systems are a site where many roof leaks occur. Whether flashing is located where roof planes intersect, around vents, or at the chimney; all flashing systems should be fixed so as to direct water over the joint, not into it. A flashing system that is properly and neatly installed will allow water to run smoothly over joints, and decrease the chance of roof leakage.

SHINGLES:
In order to get the maximum performance out of your shingles, all other roof components must be carefully chosen and properly installed.  Yet, the fact remains that it is the shingles themselves that will determine the longevity of your roof. 

Premium shingles that consist of heavy-duty felt or fibreglass mats, and thicker asphalt or granule coatings, last longer and, as a result, come with higher warranties.

In fact, premium shingles carry warranty periods starting at 25 years, and lasting up to a lifetime. Making the investment in premium shingles is a wise choice, as the added cost is minimal, when compared to the overall cost of the entire roof, and the benefits of upgrading are substantial.

VENTILATION:
A properly ventilated attic will keep your roof deck and insulation dry, dissipate heat build-up in the attic space, and extend the life of your shingles. Having proper levels of ventilation will also help ease your heating and cooling costs in the winter and summer months.

Ventilation should be split into two pathways: intake though perforated soffits, and exhaust vents, which should be placed near the top ridge of your roof. There must be at least two inches of space between the insulation in your attic and the underside of your roof deck. If you have, or intend to upgrade the insulation levels in your attic without adequate space for airflow, your ventilated soffit might not be able to perform its function.

The general rule of thumb is that the minimum ventilation required is one square foot of Net Free Air (NFA) for every 300 square feet of insulated attic space. The split of intake and exhaust is generally accepted at a 50% intake and 50% exhaust ratio.

However, the 1:300 ratio does not apply to all roofs. A low slope roof, or one with a cathedral ceiling, requires twice the ventilation of a normal roof, or a 1:150 ratio. Unheated porches or carports do not require ventilation.

Vents should be strategically placed for both function and appearance. Consider that deck vents are visible, and should match as closely as possible to your roofs colour scheme. They should be spaced evenly apart and as close to the ridge as possible, at the backside of the house.

An increasingly popular option is the ridge vent, which is common in many parts of Canada. This vent runs along the ridge of your roof, and can be covered by cap shingles to provide a uniform appearance. More importantly, because the ridge vent runs along the very top of your roof, it allows for optimum exhaust.

Other types of exhaust vents include static, gable, power vents, and wind driven turbine vents. A qualified roofing professional can help you determine which vent type is right for your home.

 
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