Roofing Materials and Structure – How It Works

Date Published: November 2, 2020

The roof over your head is an especially important aspect of the overall performance of your house. A properly installed and maintained roof and attic system are key components that prevent moisture intrusion, manage water from roof runoff, and promote good energy efficiency and indoor air quality.

Much like a crawlspace, an attic space can fall into disrepair from neglect. Who besides an occasional home inspector or contractor spends much time in an attic space or on a roof?

Understanding the building science principles that underlie a roof system can prevent manageable maintenance items from developing into much more costly repair conditions.

The Purpose Your Roof Structure

All roof systems are designed to manage and shed water. Water and ice should not be allowed to pool or collect anywhere on a roof, no matter the materials present.

Whether it is a more common asphalt shingle roof, a concrete tile or metal roof, or a rubber membrane flat roof system, all roof coverings should discharge collected rain and melted snow into a gutter and get that water away from the foundation of the house.

It is common knowledge that gutters need to be cleaned regularly, even when there is a gutter guard present, but it is also important to clear debris off the roofing materials.

We have written extensively in other posts about the dangers of poor grading and drainage around the property and a professionally installed roof and a complete gutter system are significant parts of the overall drainage plan for a house.

Roof Material Types

The most common roofing materials found today are asphalt products.

roofing material - asphalt shingle

roofing material - asphalt shingle

These shingles consist of a felt paper with asphalt granular adhered to the top. Dimensional or Architectural shingles can have a life expectancy of twenty years and even as much as forty years, depending on the product. In Colorado, asphalt shingles are very popular because of their lower cost and our climate.

Another popular roofing material in Colorado is concrete tile.

roofing material - concrete tile