There are several reasons why asphalt shingles are one of the most popular roofing materials in the country. They are lightweight, durable and cost-effective, and can withstand a wide range of climates. However, asphalt shingles (which are responsible for repelling rainwater) are just one component of a roofing system.
What are the other components that make up an asphalt shingle roofing system?
- Underlayment – Roof underlayment serves as a secondary barrier against water in case there’s a leak.
- Ice and water barriers – The most leak-prone areas on your roof (like the roof valley, the section where two roofs meet and water is diverted to before it flows to your gutters) require additional ice and water barriers to prevent water from infiltrating your roof.
- Hip and ridge products – Hip and ridge products bridge the two roof slopes together to prevent water from infiltrating your roof. They also serve a cosmetic function as well: they put the finishing touches on an asphalt roof.
- Starter strip products – These prevent wind uplift from dislodging asphalt shingles.
Important note: storm winds can easily dislodge asphalt shingles. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you have your roofing system inspected after a storm or extreme weather event.
- Gutter system – Your gutters serve as your roof’s first line of defense against the elements. They protect your asphalt shingle roof from moisture damage by diverting water to the drains.
Here’s a tip: if you want to reduce your gutter’s maintenance needs and boost your roof’s protection against leaks, you might want to consider getting a seamless gutter installation. Since, as the name suggests, seamless gutters lack seams, you don’t have to worry about leaves and other kinds of debris getting stuck in between these joints or gutter sections pulling apart from each other under additional weight load from accumulated debris.
- Ventilation system – A roof’s ventilation system is composed of soffit boards and intake and exhaust vents. Without adequate ventilation, warm, humid air becomes trapped in your attic, creating a damp environment that’s the perfect breeding ground for mold and increasing the strain on your HVAC system.
How Much Ventilation Does Your Asphalt Shingle Roof Need?
As a general rule, attics with a vapor barrier should have a square foot of net free area (NFA) – the area through which air can pass – for every 300 square feet of floor area. If your attic doesn’t have a vapor barrier, it should have a square foot of NFA for every 150 square feet of floor space.
Important note: keep in mind more roof ventilation isn’t necessarily better. That’s because adding too many air vents can disrupt the airflow in your roof. The airflow in your attic should be balanced, which means the amount of space dedicated to air intake must be the same as the space dedicated to air exhaust. If you’re not sure if your roof has adequate ventilation, it’s best to have a roofing contractor conduct an inspection.
Choosing the Right Type of Air Vents
Keep in mind not all vents can provide the same level of ventilation. That’s why it’s important to choose the right type of vent for your home and local climate.
Here’s an overview of commonly used intake and exhaust air vents:
- Gable vents – Air vents are usually installed in an inconspicuous part of your roof to prevent them from drawing too much attention. That is except for gable vents, which are integrated into your roof’s design and are usually installed on the exterior wall of your attic or at the highest point on the roof gable.
- Rafter vents – Rafter vents keep debris from blocking the soffit board’s vents (which provide supplementary ventilation) and make sure that cool air is able to enter your roof unimpeded.
- Cupola vents – Cupola vents are similar to rafter vents in the sense that they’re intended to be a feature of your roof’s design. However, one notable difference between the two is that cupola vents need supplementary ventilation because, by themselves, they can’t provide enough ventilation.
- Box vents – Box vents aren’t the best choice if you’re quite particular about your home’s curb appeal. Since box vents don’t have a lot of venting capacity, you’ll need to install several of them to ensure your roof and attic are well-ventilated. The problem is box vents tend to draw too much attention to themselves and, as such, can disrupt your home’s exterior design.
- Ridge vents – If you want to keep your home’s curb appeal intact, inconspicuous ridge vents are arguably a better choice. They run along the roof peak and are hidden by roofing shingles, so they won’t draw attention away from your exterior design.
- Turbine vents – Turbine vents might not be the most aesthetically pleasing type of vent, but on windy days, they can arguably draw out warm, humid air better than any type of vent.
Boosting Your Home’s Curb Appeal: How to Choose the Right Roof Color
To maximize the returns on investment on your new asphalt shingle roof and boost your home’s curb appeal, you should choose a roof color that complements the rest of your exterior. Remember: when it comes to exterior design, consistency is key.
Here’s a design tip: there’s a reason why certain color combinations have been used in homes for hundreds of years. It’s because they all work so well together. Here are some classic color combinations you may want to consider:
- White – The best thing about having a white exterior is that it goes well with almost any color
- Red exterior – Dark brown, black, grey and green
- Light grey exterior – Grey, black, green, blue and white
- Beige exterior – Brown, black, grey, green and blue
- Brown – Grey, brown, green and blue
Keep in mind coordinating colors can be tricky. That’s why if you’re having trouble choosing a roof color, you shouldn’t hesitate to consult a roofing contractor.
How to Choose the Right Soffit Board for Your Local Climate
In addition to providing supplementary ventilation, your soffit board also protects the roof rafters (the wooden beams that form your roof’s structural support) from the elements. However, to keep water from reaching your roof’s underlayers and structural support, you need to choose a soffit board made from material that’s durable enough to withstand the local climate.
Here’s an overview of some of the most commonly used soffit materials:
- Vinyl – Water-resistant vinyl soffit boards are the most affordable option on the market, but they are not necessarily the most cost-effective. That’s because of their vulnerability to extreme temperatures: vinyl turns brittle in subzero temperatures and may suffer warping in high temperatures.
- Aluminum – Rust-resistant aluminum soffit boards are a smart choice for areas that receive a high amount of rainfall.
- Timber – Timber soffits can add a rustic appeal to your exterior. However, to maintain their aesthetic appeal, they need to be routinely maintained.
One more thing: to make sure your new asphalt roof is installed correctly, always vet a roofer before hiring one. Check if the roofers have a state license and workers’ insurance. Certifications (which are usually given by manufacturers and independent non-profits) are not required, but they do give you a good idea of a roofer’s level of expertise.
Why Hire a GAF Master Elite® Contractor?
The requirements for a Master Elite® Certification are so stringent that only 2% of roofers in the country qualify. To be certified, a contractor should be properly licensed, adequately insured and committed to ongoing professional training, and have a glowing reputation in their respective communities.
Orion Home Improvements, LLC, a GAF Master Elite contractor, offers a wide range of professional exterior services, including roof replacement and seamless gutter installation services.