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What Is Roofing?

Roofing is the process of constructing or repairing a roof on a home or other structure. It protects the interior from rain, snow, sunlight, and wind, while adding beauty and enhancing energy efficiency. Roofing also includes the installation of gutters and flashing to prevent leaks. Several different types of materials are used to cover and safeguard a roof, from natural thatch and grass to asphalt shingles and sheet metal.

The most common type of roof is the shingle, which can be made from a variety of materials. Fiberglass, slate and clay tiles are other popular choices, especially for homes in coastal or desert areas where extreme weather conditions often occur. Metal roofing is one of the fastest growing segments of the roofing industry, due to its longevity and resistance to fire, wind, hail and solar radiation. It can be manufactured to mimic the appearance of other materials, including wood shakes and stone slate, and is available in a wide range of colors and finishes.

Roofs have evolved in a remarkable variety of forms, depending upon technical, economic and aesthetic considerations. Many of today’s roofs are sloped, rather than flat, and are designed to shed water in a safe way. Sloping roofs can be constructed from a variety of materials, with wood and metal being the most common. The slope of a roof is measured by its rise in inches for every 12 inches of horizontal run, with a 4-in-12 slope being typical for residential roofs.

Most sloped roofs are covered with a layer of underlayment, which is normally self-adhesive and serves to seal leaky seams and joints. A well-installed underlayment can significantly extend the life of a roof.

Leaks are more likely to occur in valleys where two roof planes meet, at eaves and at chimneys and other roof penetrations. To avoid leaks, flashing is usually installed at these points. Flashing can be made of a variety of materials, including galvanized steel, copper and tin.

Almost 75% of roof leaks are at the intersections of two intersecting roof planes, so it is important to have properly installed valley flashing. This is usually a simple task for a competent roofing contractor, but can be difficult if the original flashing has deteriorated or been removed for some reason.

When hiring a roofing contractor, ask for references and pictures of previous jobs. If possible, make sure you get up on the roof yourself to see what the workers are doing and to evaluate their workmanship. It is also a good idea to request that the roofing contractor take clear before, during and after pictures of critical areas, such as the roof perimeter and any areas where leaks might occur. It is also a good idea to ask your roofing contractor what tools they use and how to safely operate them. This will help prevent any misunderstandings and potential disputes over charges later on. Also, be sure to follow all safety precautions when working on a roof, especially with powerful power tools or sharp tools like nail guns and razor blades.