Roofing felt has a pretty important job – essentially it is your roof’s primary protection against water. While your asphalt shingles cover your roofing felt –also often called tar paper, or underlayment – and often take the most damage during heavy storms, the roofing felt you choose can be the difference between that storm causing damage to just your asphalt shingles, or causing a water leak in your roof.
What that means for homeowners is that choosing the right roofing felt matters – especially if you live in storm prone areas. So how do you choose the right roofing felt? Here are three things you should know:
Choose the right material. While traditional roofing felt is often made from fiberglass fleece that has been soaked with asphalt or bitumen to create waterproof product, roofing felt can also be made from polyester fibers soaked in asphalt. Most recently, roofing felt even comes in an organic version – using the fibers of rags soaked in asphalt. So which is best choice? That depends on what your needs are. While going organic meets the sustainability concerns of many, it doesn’t hold up as well. On the other hand, fiberglass fleece has a proven track record of durability and weather resistance. However, there is yet another promising option. Thermoplastic polyolefin membrane, or TPO is an underlayment used like roofing felt but is lighter, more resistance to punctures, and even stronger than polyester roofing felt. The down side is that is has only been on the market since 2003, so we don’t have the benefit of time to test its durability. However, early results are promising. While fiberglass fleece is still the most common roofing felt, if you don’t mind using a slightly less proven option TPO may just be the roofing felt for you.
Choose the right weight. Like many paper-type products, roofing felt paper comes in many different weights, which describe its density or heaviness. The weight that should be used depends primarily on the roofing material that you choose, as some materials require heavier weights. Traditional asphalt shingles typically require 15 pound roofing felt, and for most homes a roofing felt that is 15 or 30 pounds provides adequate protection. While lighter weight felts are available, which come with pros and cons. While they will not provide the same protection, they do offer better air circulation, which could increase the lifespan of your home. Yet choosing the right roofing felt weight also means considering the climate you live in. If you live in an area that sees heavy storms, a heavier weight will offer better protection against the elements. On the other hand, if you live in a hot, dry climate, a lighter felt will mitigate heat build-up and improve energy efficiency.
Choose the right size. As the goal of roofing felt is to provide a barrier against water, the least amount of seams in the felt the better. Typical roofing felt rolls are 36” wide and come in lengths of 50 or 100 feet. So by first measuring your house properly, you can then buy rolls that will allow you to cover more surface area with less seams.
This article was brought to you by ASAP Roofing a national leader in roofing restoration, hail damage, and exceptional customer service. ASAP has offices in Aurora, Colorado, Dallas, Texas, and Indianapolis, Indiana.