Learn the Basics of Roof Systems

The roof of your home is comprised of many different layers. This article will help you learn the basic structure of a roof and how to spot common problems such as leaks and moss growth. It will also help you determine what to do when these problems appear. Having an understanding of the basic structure of a roof will help you prevent costly repairs.

Learn the Basics of Roof Systems

What is the roofing system description?

Asphalt shingle roofs are today’s most widely used roofing systems in residential construction. The system comprises multiple asphalt shingles forming a single rooftop layer. Asphalt shingles come in various colors and shapes, each designed to overlap the lower edge of an adjacent tile for more excellent protection against moisture penetration. 

Asphalt shingle roofs are usually resistant to wind and fire, making them an ideal solution for homes in areas prone to such conditions. The material is also relatively easy to install and can be replaced quickly. Furthermore, asphalt shingles require minimal maintenance over their expected life span, ranging from 10 to 50 years, depending on the quality and installation method. Overall, asphalt shingle roofs are an excellent choice for homeowners looking for durable yet affordable roofing solutions without sacrificing aesthetic appeal.

Why is a roofing system important?

A roofing system is essential to any building, providing protection from the elements and ensuring the interior remains comfortable. 

Asphalt shingle roofs are among the most widely used types of roofing systems in both residential and commercial buildings due to their affordability and durability. These roofs consist of individual asphalt shingles with a mat base laminated with mineral granules to protect against the sun’s UV rays. Asphalt shingle systems provide superior protection against wind, hail, snow, rain, and other environmental factors while allowing ventilation when necessary. In addition to their weatherproof qualities, they can be installed quickly because they don’t require as much labor or specialized tools as other roofing systems. 

The longevity of asphalt shingle roofs makes them an economical choice for most homeowners since they rarely need maintenance or repairs for decades after being installed.

What is the most common roofing system used today?

Asphalt shingle roof

Asphalt shingle roofs are the most commonly chosen roofing system for residential homes today. This type of roofing offers a low-cost and easy installation process that can be completed quickly compared to other roofs. The asphalt shingles come in various styles and colors, providing homeowners with options to complement their home’s aesthetic. Asphalt shingles are also lightweight, making them easier to transport and install on homes. 

Furthermore, asphalt shingle roofs provide additional insulation, which helps keep energy costs down by improving the efficiency of home heating and cooling systems and reducing noise from outside sources like rain or hail storms. 

Additionally, an asphalt shingle roof is inexpensive compared to other types of roofs when first purchased but may only last for a short time as some more expensive materials are used for roofing on the market today.

Know the Anatomy of a Roof

Before choosing a suitable roofing material for your house, you must understand how roof systems work. Although you don’t need to be a roofing expert, knowing the basic anatomy will help you make informed decisions. You can also ensure your roofer understands what you’re looking for.

Roof decking, or roof sheathing, is the foundation for other roofing materials. It prevents water from seeping in. Once this material is damaged, water can enter the home. Flashings help prevent this from happening. Knowing the roofing basics, you can ask questions about what goes where and how it should be repaired.

Roof trusses are another vital part of the roof system. These beams at the peak of the house are used to support the rest of the roof. Roof shingles are attached to trusses by nails. Another critical part of a roof is the vent pipe, a small pipe that extends through the home. It helps direct water away from the house and allows it to drain quickly.

Spot Common Problems

A roof’s environment can have a significant impact on its performance. High humidity can lead to algae streaking and ice damming, which puts unnecessary weight on your roof and can eventually lead to leaks. In addition to weather-related damage, improper flashing installation can cause flashing problems. These problems are typically most visible around skylights.


Roof leaks can be caused by various reasons, some more common than others. Leaks in roof systems can cause severe damage to the structure of a home and can lead to the need to replace the entire roof. If you notice a leak in your roof, the first thing to do is to find a roof leak repair contractor.

A roof repair technician can use various methods to find the source of a leak, depending on the type of material. Some roof systems have multiple layers, making identifying the leak location more challenging. For example, if there is a leak in the edge metal of a metal roof, the water may migrate through the system and enter the structure below it.

Often, a roof leak is caused by improper installation or maintenance. Many roofing materials fail over time, causing gaps to develop and water to seep into the building. Another common cause is moss growth on the roof, which softens the shingles and allows water to enter the home.

Moss Growth

Moss growth on roofs is a significant problem that can damage your roof. It loves moist, relaxed environments, so it thrives on properties with many trees or other wooded areas. The northern part of a roof is particularly vulnerable to moss growth because it receives less sunlight than the southern part. The best way to combat moss is to clean your gutters regularly.

The amount of rainfall and shade a roof receives can also affect the moss on a roof. The north side of a roof will receive the least sunlight, while patches with overhanging trees are also likely to develop moss.

Moss growth on a roof is a significant problem because it causes the roof to absorb moisture from the rain. This moisture can cause damage to the shingles and can even cause rot inside the home. This can cause a lot of expensive repairs to your home.

Asphalt Shingles

Before you install asphalt shingles on your home, you should know the different types. Three main types of asphalt shingles exist three-tab shingles, architectural shingles, and traditional shingles. Three-tab shingles are the simplest and least expensive of all. However, they do not last very long and are not resistant to the elements. On the other hand, architectural shingles are very durable and can withstand strong winds.

The origins of asphalt shingles can be traced back to the 1800s. The first asphalt shingles were large rolls of felt with coal tar applied on top. During that time, the popularity of asphalt shingles was still relatively low. It took many years until businesses began using them in the United States.

Today’s asphalt shingles are reinforced with fiberglass and can last 25 to 30 years. They come in different colors and textures and have a mineral appearance. Some manufacturers even offer a 50-year warranty.


Roofing is an integral part of any home, and there are many types. Roofing professionals can help with any questions or concerns about your roof. They can help you choose suitable materials and roof designs to meet your building codes. Learn the basics of roof systems before you begin a project.

Kyle Houck


About the Author

Kyle Houck is the President of Eastern Exteriors, LLC.

Eastern Exteriors, LLC is a family-owned company based in Frederick, Maryland. From new roof installation and roof repairs by professional roofers to premium window installations and expert siding installation, we are a full-service exteriors and contractor roofing company. And, if storms blow your way, we’ll be there to assess and repair the damage quickly.

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