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Your roof is the ultimate protection for your home. But there are more than just roofing shingles that go into this barrier. As the first line of defense against the elements, your roof needs certain items to maximize its protection. What is a key product recommended by almost every roofer? Underlayment.

What is Underlayment?

In simple terms, underlayment is a secondary barrier added to your roof before the shingles are laid. It is water resistant and in all honesty, critical to having a healthy and long-lasting roof. Think of it as your backup – your second line of defense.

It’s also used as protection during roofing construction and repairs. Florida roofing installations may take a couple of days. Laying this down protects the roof and your home from the elements in the interim. Tennessee roofing repairs might happen during a spring rainfall, and an underlayment barrier will protect the rest of your house as repairs are being made. It also makes it safer for roofers by giving them a little traction to walk on!

They also add protection where your roofing shingles cannot. Unfortunately, shingles aren’t foolproof. They don’t overlap in every single area, and they can be lifted or damaged by winds (we mentioned some of this in a past blog post). This secondary barrier helps your roof fight those battles. They are an extra layer of protection for your home. With Florida roofing, this can be extremely important when dealing with hurricane-level winds and rains. The right underlayment guards your home from that and much more.

Is Felt Best?

In the past, underlayment, including Florida and Tennessee roofing underlayment, came in two standard weights: 15 lb and 30 lb. The weight chosen was based on the job, the shingle used, and the pitch of the roof. As the technology evolved, the actual weight of roofing underlayment has changed, but the standards of how it’s chosen remain the same, now dubbing the choices #15 and #20.

Most of the time, especially in the past, felt underlayment was used. See, felt paper underlayment has been around a long while. It’s been time tested and is a respected and often used product in roofing. Think of it as a membrane. Felt paper is soaked in asphalt and other water resistant compounds, creating this shield between your shingles and your home.

On a side note, don’t confuse tar paper for roofing felt. Sometimes used synonymously, they are actually very different. Tar paper is simply a thin, tear-resistant paper literally soaked in tar. Roofing felt is often completely saturated in asphalt, creating a better barrier and better product.

Tennesee roofing and Florida roofing would benefit greatly from the felt underlayment. Being that it’s soaked in asphalt, it allows fantastic water runoff, which is great for the seasons in both areas.  It’s also wonderfully cost-effective and often the less costly option.

Felt vs. Synthetic

Synthetic underlayment is fairly new to roofing, having been introduced about a dozen years ago. It was created while trying to fill in for felt’s shortcomings. While felt is water-resistant, it is not water-proof, and felt is also a whole lot heavier than synthetic, making some jobs pretty tough.

Synthetic underlayment is typically made from polyethylene or polypropylene, though not all are created equal or are even impermeable. While felt may have the tendency to tear, synthetic is far more tear and puncture resistant. Synthetic is also much lighter than the asphalt soaked felt that is so trustingly used.

While both synthetic and felt create an important barrier for your roof, one of the pros of synthetic is that, because of the material, it will never rot. It can’t absorb moisture, so it will not expand or allow mold growth. The downside is that synthetic underlayment is significantly more expensive than felt underlay. The difference in technology and materials alone reflect on the cost.

Felt underlay has been a trusted material in roofing for decades, and synthetic underlay is new and improved. Neither is a wrong choice, and one may work better for your roof and your locale than the other. If you have any questions about what underlay is right for you, just give us a call. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.