The final weather barrier between the raw plywood of your roof and the finished roof is the underlay. Significant changes have been made to the Florida Building Code in recent years to provide more protection for homeowners.
No. 15 asphalt-saturated felt is the most common underlay for roofers in most areas of the country, and until the building code change, that was the case in Florida. A roll of # 15 felt covers approximately 400 square feet and typically sells for less than $ 15. There are some limitations, however, including durability if left exposed and tearing if the primary roof is not in place. Exposed raw plywood after hurricanes showed felt defects after shingles were blown from the roof.
The Florida Building Code now prohibits the use of # 15 felt. Only the heavier # 30 felt can be used when applied in two layers. The workload of applying two layers of felt has forced many roofers to find different underlay options. Manufacturers have developed a completely new line of synthetic felts and quick stick products that are a little more expensive but offer a lot more durability.
Mid-States Asphalt of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was an innovator in new underpayment technologies. Your products, if installed correctly, should prevent water ingress in the harshest weather conditions. The company offers Quik-Felt, a synthetic felt that meets all of the requirements of the Florida Building Code and is designed to be exposed to the weather for much longer. The side effect is that one 24-pound roll covers 1,000 square feet, while it takes three rolls of # 15 felt, weighing approximately 50 pounds per roll, to cover the same area.
The peel-and-stick underlay product is the most innovative and, in my opinion, well worth the extra investment by the homeowner. This product is a rolled, fiberglass modified, self-adhesive membrane that seals when nails pierce through it. It provides the best defense against storms when shingles are torn off the roof. Compared to regular synthetic felt, the peel-and-stick product costs a homeowner of a 2,000-square-foot home approximately $ 900 in product and labor. It’s like putting a hard skin under the shingles or metal roof stoppers.
Mid-States Asphalt makes a Quik-Stick product for peeling and sticking ice and water sand in a 200 square foot roll that has a slightly abrasive sandy surface for traction during installation. This product costs less than $ 60 per roll. Don’t be put off by the word ice in the name as it is used to protect homes in areas where snow and ice on the roof can cause water to enter. This product is used under fiberglass roof shingles and requires a few nails and a little patience to install.
For tile and metal roofs, Mid-States Asphalt offers a Quik-Stick HT that does not damage the underside of the metal or tile roof with sand or granules. There are cases when ill-informed roofers use the wrong underlay, which becomes a problem in the event of a leak or storm.
Some roofers use a combination of synthetic felt with Peel & Stick products in the roof valley and ridges in the main areas, which are more prone to roof leaks. For homeowners on a budget, this seems like a good alternative. My rule is simple: the more the roof is cut up with valleys, hips and ridges, the greater the need for peel-and-stick products.
When installing or replacing a roof, ask your roofer what they are using for the underlay and how it will be applied. Make sure the roofer is using the correct fasteners that won’t tear the backing and make sure you get the protection you want and are willing to pay for it. In my opinion, a properly installed high quality underlay will prevent roof leaks years later. Spending $ 900 more today is nothing if your home is later flooded during a storm.
Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply Inc. He is also the presenter of the Around the House radio show which can be heard every Monday at 12:00 on My790AM WLBE in Leesburg.