What Is Roofing and Why Is It Necessary?

A roof is an architectural structure that forms the upper covering of a building or shelter. It protects inhabitants and their possessions from weather elements such as rain, snow, and wind. A home would be a mess without a roof to shield its contents from Mother Nature’s wrath. A well-built roof also helps control energy costs.


There are a variety of Roofing materials available to choose from that will help protect and add beauty to any home structure. These materials range from those expressly designed for a particular aesthetic to those that are highly durable and provide a long-lasting roof covering. Several factors will dictate the type of material that is most suitable for a project, including budget and location.

A wood shingle or shake roof can be a beautiful addition to any home, adding a sense of rustic charm to the structure. They are not as durable as other types of roofs, however, and can be prone to rot and insect infestation. They are also more expensive than other types of roofing materials and may require a lot of maintenance and repairs. A newer type of wooden roof is made of composite cedar shakes, which offer the same aesthetically pleasing look as natural wood but are not as prone to problems like rotting, mold and fungus, warping, and fading.

Another popular roofing option is metal shingles and shakes. These are often manufactured to look remarkably similar to traditional asphalt shingles or even slate or clay tile. Metal is also very durable, resistant to fire, and can last 30 to 50 years.

Other roofing materials include single-membrane systems that are used on flat or low-slope roofs. These include EPDM rubber, PVC, TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin), and high-density spray foam.

Membrane roofing can withstand punctures and tears and is highly resistant to chemicals, standing water, and bacterial growth. It is also heat-resistant and will reflect ultraviolet rays from the sun, which can reduce cooling costs.

Slate is an extremely beautiful roofing material that offers a distinctive, timeless look for a building or home. It is not as durable as other types of roofing, however, and is very heavy, making it difficult to install on a residential property without proper reinforcement. It is also very expensive, but it can add a considerable amount of value to the home.

Stainless steel is a popular roofing material that can be finished in a wide array of colors, from a dull gray to a highly reflective mirror finish. Stainless steel is very durable and weather-resistant and can be easily welded to other roofing materials for an integrated roof system.


A roofing system protects a building from rain, snow, sunlight, wind, and extremes of temperature. It can be flat, pitched, vaulted, or domed. Commercial buildings often require roofing materials that can withstand a greater variety of contaminants than residential properties, such as chemical fumes and exhaust from manufacturing processes. Penetrations such as chimneys, vents, and valleys in the roof must also be properly flashed and sealed to defend against leaks.

When it comes to shingles, you want a contractor who is experienced and licensed. Some roofing manufacturers offer lists of credentialed contractors. Also, ask your insurance company for a list of roofing contractors.

Before installing the shingles, the contractor will lay underlayment. Felt paper is usually used in the valleys of the roof, where the slopes meet to form “V” angles. The underlayment is then nailed down with cap nails that are close together at the edge of the roof and spread out further towards the center. The first row of shingles is then nailed to the underlayment in a pattern of overlapping and nailing that is repeated across the entire roof. The final step is to cover the ridge of the roof with more underlayment and then a vapor retarder.


The roof of a building is constantly subjected to weather conditions that can cause accelerated surface deterioration. Routine maintenance can help prevent leaks and reduce energy costs, thereby protecting interior valuables. If left untreated, deterioration can lead to costly and lengthy repairs.

Surface maintenance includes such activities as cleaning, debris removal, and regular inspections. These should be done in accordance with a written maintenance program and scheduled to coincide with typical environmental conditions. Housekeeping surveys should be conducted on most roof areas at a minimum of monthly intervals. This will keep drainage systems clear and allow the inspection of conditions that could potentially damage the roof membrane.

During the survey, the condition of the shingles should be carefully examined, paying special attention to any bare spots. The flashing should also be examined to determine if any caulking needs to be replaced. The roof vent pipes should be checked to see if they are leaking, as well as for the presence of moss or lichen.

Debris should be removed regularly from all drains, scuppers, and gutters to ensure proper drainage and prevent accumulated materials from restricting the flow of water. Drainage problems can result in localized ponding, which will accelerate membrane deterioration.

Regular inspections should include a thorough check of all penetrations, including conduits, pipes, cables, and air conditioning equipment. All roof drains should be cleared of debris, and all gutters should be inspected to ensure they are free-flowing. If any of the penetrations are found to be leaking, they should be repaired immediately.

A thorough inspection should be made of the entire roof structure, including all decking, sheathing, and insulation. Special attention should be paid to the areas around the chimney and to the flashing where the roofing planes meet. This is a common area where leaks occur.

Any items that are noted for repair should be taken care of as soon as possible to avoid costly and extensive repairs in the future. Small, isolated problems that are not corrected can quickly become major problems that will require the replacement of large areas of the roof. Those who do not have the knowledge and skills to perform the necessary corrective actions should hire a qualified roofing contractor.