A Beginner’s Guide to Roof Underlayment

IMG_3043As far as most people are concerned, the roof over their head simply exists and they don’t think very much more about it. The reality is that a professionally constructed roof must be capable of keeping your Oklahoma home dry during excessive rain, cool during excessive heat, and of course it must be capable of dealing with sub-zero temperatures too.

In the end, the roof of a modern home needs to remain watertight through a wide variety of weather conditions, and this is where modern roof underlayment materials come into play.

In older homes, the only barrier between your shingle and the interior of your home is a layer of thick paper that has been thoroughly “soaked” in asphalt. This provided an adequate barrier in all but severe weather conditions, but was more prone to failure than homeowners would have liked. It was also a very generic solution to very specific problems, so thankfully roofing technology has come a long way since then.

What is Roof Underlayment?

Put simply—roof underlayment is the layer, or layers, of material that form a water-resistant or waterproof barrier for your roof. These materials have now come so far in their development that even if the shingles on your roof become damaged the underlayment is capable of keeping your home safe from heavy rainfall.

Roofing underlayment can be made from a variety of synthetic and natural materials. Whichever roofing underlayment material you choose then forms a physical barrier between the structure of your roof and the shingle protecting your home from the elements.

Types of Roofing Underlayment

You can choose from two different types or roofing underlayment:


This is the traditional type of roofing felt that is made from paper combined with asphalt. As a water and wind barrier it does an adequate job, but can be difficult to work with, and is also quite prone to wear and tear once your roof has settled properly.

Roofing felt has the advantages of being extremely cost-effective, but requires skill and experience to install properly – especially because it can become slippery in certain weather conditions. Felt is now rarely used as the only form of underlayment on any roof. Felt roofing also has a relatively short life span.


There is a wide range of synthetic materials to choose from, including fiberglass and polyethylene, but it’s underlayment made from polypropylene that is proving to be popular with most roofing contractors. Any underlayment made from these synthetic materials is lighter and is far more capable of acting as a water barrier for your roof decking.

Synthetic underlayment materials are more expensive to manufacture, but are also far easier to work with when covering large roofs – a single large sheet can simply be rolled out to cover several thousand square feet. Synthetic roof underlayment materials last longer than organic materials such as felt.

Roofing Underlayment for Oklahoma Homes:

Whichever type of roofing underlayment you, or your contractor, actually uses will depend on a number of different factors: including the type of roof, the pitch of the roof, local environmental conditions and, of course, your budget.

Just make sure you consult with an experienced contractor before making any final decisions when it comes to choosing roofing underlayment. The friendly staff at RC Roofing is more than happy to answer any questions you might have on this subject.


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