If you watch a roofing company put a new roof on your home, you'll soon realize the process involves a lot more than simply nailing down some shingles. At a few points in the process, you may find yourself wondering, "Why are they adding that?" Indeed, roofers do often add unexpected materials and components to roofs. The purpose of most of these materials and elements is to help keep the roof in good shape and extend its lifespan. Here are a few specific roof elements that help your roof last longer.


If you see the roof before your roofers start putting shingles on, it will probably be covered in a black or gray fabric. This fabric is known as underlayment. It's usually a thick, felted paper. Underlayment exists to help protect the roof deck from water damage. If a little water gets past your shingles, the underlayment keeps that water from coming into direct contact with the roofing deck and causing it to mold or rot. A moldy, rotten roof deck will quickly degrade and weaken, so it's worth protecting the roof deck with a good underlayment.

Drip Edge

If you see your roofer putting sheets of vinyl or plastic along the edges of the roof before they shingle these areas, that material is called a drip edge. The edges of your roof are often the most vulnerable. This is where shingles start to lift and leak. It is also where water can seep in if the gutters become clogged. A drip edge will help prevent this sort of damage. The wetter your climate, the thicker the drip edge will be.

Ridge Vents

Does the peak or ridge of your roof look like it has a raised layer of shingles that are a few inches above the rest of the roof? This is because your roofer has put in what's known as a ridge vent. This sort of vent allows heat and hot air to escape from your attic. This helps your roof last longer by limiting the amount of heat that travels directly through the shingles. Heat contributes to deterioration. A good ridge vent also helps keep ice dams from forming in the winter. Ice dams can lead to peeling shingles, so preventing them is good for roof longevity.

Now you know why roofers add the above elements to new roofs. Each material really does have a purpose. Contact a roofing contractor to learn more.