Roofing 101: Getting to Know a Shingle Roof


If you’re a first time homeowner, roofs are as enigmatic as home improvement projects could get. While it may not seem like it, asphalt shingle roofs can be really complicated – or so it seems. This post should be able to explain to you the basics of an asphalt shingle roof.

As a homeowner, there’s only a couple of things you need to understand about roofs. You can leave the other stuff to your roofer. Whether you’re getting a repair, a roof-over or replacement. These are what you need to know.

getting to know your roof kansas city blue springs missouri install new repairTrusses

The trusses and rafters, the top skeletal structure of your home, form the basis of your roof.  The strength of this skeletal structure dictates the type of roofing that your home can support.


Also referred to as “sheeting” or a “roof deck,” this is the second layer of your roof.  Made of OSB (oriented strand board) or plywood, this layer is attached to the trusses and provides a rigid foundation and support for the subsequent layers of your roofing system.

Underlayment & Leak Barrier

These products are designed to protect the sheathing from experiencing any water damage. Shingles are designed to shed water, but leaks often happen as a result of wind-driven rain, damage, or old age. Each manufacturer offers a variety of products designed for different climates throughout the United States to integrate within your roofing system.

Asphalt Shingles

Currently the most common roofing material in the US., asphalt shingles are panels of fiberglass mat coated with asphalt, then reinforced with ceramic granules for durability. They come in a large variety of forms, styles, and colors. Beginning with the specialized “starter shingles,” the individual shingles are layered atop each other and nailed to the roof deck. The bottom side of the shingles is coated with an adhesive that is activated by heat.  Once activated, it is designed to meld each shingle to the one beneath it for optimal weatherproofing.

Hip & Ridge Shingles

These shingles are made of the same materials as the rest of the roof, but are specially formed to provide a single “cap” for the roofing system.


Every roof needs to be able to “breathe” in order to function properly.  Exposed to excessive heat during summer days, the attic receives the brunt of it all and must have a way to release the pent up temperatures. Building codes dictate the minimal amount of ventilation required for a shingle roof – but your roofing contractor may recommend a more optimal number that still meets the code requirements.

Talk to the Experts

Learning about the components of your roof can help be an immense help when it comes to budgeting, maintenance, and simply taking care of your home.  It also opens up a new pathway of communication between you and your roofing contractor.

When you are looking for shingle roof repair or replacement, contact the professionals at Bill West Roofing.

Originally published: Jan. 4, 2013
Information updated: August 17, 2015

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