Choosing the Best Underlayment for Your Roof: Factors to Consider

by | Jul 14, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

Underlayment is crucial in ensuring long-term performance and protection for roofing systems. Often overlooked, underlayment is a vital layer of material that is installed directly onto the roof deck before the final roofing materials, such as shingles or metal panels, are applied. Underlayment acts as a barrier, providing additional defense against weather elements, controlling moisture, enhancing thermal insulation, and bolstering the roof’s durability.

Choosing the Best Underlayment for Long-Term Performance

Selecting the proper underlayment is essential for the long-term performance of your roof. The type of underlayment you choose will depend on several factors, including climate and weather conditions, the roofing material being used, roof slope and design, local building codes and regulations, budget considerations, and the desired longevity of the roof. By carefully considering these factors and selecting the best underlayment for your specific needs, you can ensure optimal performance and extend the lifespan of your roof.

Here is how Underlayment works

1. Definition and Role of Underlayment in Roofing Systems

Underlayment is a layer installed between the roof deck and the final roofing materials. Its primary role is to provide additional protection and functionality to the roof system. Underlayment acts as a secondary barrier against weather elements, moisture, and thermal variations and enhances the overall durability of the roof.

2. Primary Functions of Underlayment

  1. Weather Protection: Underlayment acts as a waterproofing layer, protecting the roof from water intrusion caused by rain, snow, and ice. It prevents moisture from reaching the roof deck and interior of the building, safeguarding against leaks and potential damage.
  2. Moisture Control: Underlayment helps to manage moisture by allowing any trapped moisture to escape, preventing the formation of condensation and reducing the risk of mold or rot in the roof structure.
  3. Thermal Insulation: Underlayment provides an additional layer of thermal insulation, helping to regulate temperature differentials and improving energy efficiency within the building.
  4. Enhanced Durability: Underlayment adds strength and durability to the roof system, acting as a protective layer that helps evenly distribute the roofing materials’ weight. It also provides an extra barrier against impact and mechanical damage.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Underlayment

1. Climate and Weather Conditions

Your area’s climate and weather conditions significantly determine the type of underlayment that will perform best. For example, regions with high rainfall or snowfall may require underlayments with excellent waterproofing capabilities, such as ice and water shield membranes. Areas with extreme temperature variations might benefit from underlayments with enhanced thermal insulation properties.

2. Roofing Material

The compatibility between the underlayment and the roofing material is crucial for long-term performance. Different roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles, metal roofs, or tile, have specific requirements for underlayment. For instance, asphalt shingles typically require an underlayment resistant to high temperatures, while metal roofs may need underlayments that provide superior moisture control.

3. Roof Slope and Design

The slope and design of your roof also impact underlayment selection. Steep-sloped roofs, for example, require underlayments with high traction to prevent slippage during installation and offer excellent water-shedding properties. Flat roofs may need underlayments that provide superior waterproofing and protect against ponding water.

4. Building Codes and Regulations

Understanding the local building codes and regulations governing underlayment selection is vital. Certain areas may have specific fire resistance, wind uplift resistance, or impact resistance requirements. Compliance with these regulations ensures the roof meets safety standards and may even affect insurance coverage.

5. Budget and Longevity

Finding the right balance between cost and quality is crucial when considering underlayment options. While it may be tempting to opt for lower-cost options, it is essential to assess the longevity of the materials and factor in the warranty provided. Investing in a high-quality underlayment with a longer lifespan can save you from premature roof failures and the associated costs of replacement or repairs.

Types of Underlayment Materials

1. Asphalt-saturated Felt

Asphalt-saturated felt is a traditional underlayment material that has been used for decades. It consists of a cellulose or fiberglass mat saturated with asphalt. It is relatively affordable, easy to install, and protects against water penetration. However, it may offer a different level of durability and performance than newer synthetic alternatives.

2. Synthetic Underlayment

Synthetic underlayment is gaining popularity due to its improved performance over traditional asphalt-saturated felt. Made from synthetic polymers, it offers enhanced tear resistance, excellent waterproofing capabilities, and increased UV protection. Synthetic underlayment is also lightweight and easier to handle during installation.

3. Rubberized Asphalt

Rubberized asphalt underlayment combines asphalt with rubber polymers, creating a highly flexible and durable material. It offers superior waterproofing properties, excellent resistance to temperature extremes, and increased resistance to tears and punctures. Rubberized asphalt is commonly used in areas prone to heavy rainfall or where ice dams may form.

4. Specialty Underlayments

Specialty underlayments, such as ice and water shield membranes or self-adhesive underlayments, provide additional protection in specific areas prone to water intrusion, such as valleys, eaves, or penetrations. Ice and water shield membranes are self-sealing, preventing water from infiltrating vulnerable areas, while self-adhesive underlayments offer convenience and added security during installation.

Installation Considerations

Proper installation techniques are crucial to ensure the optimal performance of underlayment. It is essential to follow manufacturer guidelines and local building codes. Adequate ventilation and moisture control within the roof system is also vital to prevent the buildup of condensation, which can lead to mold growth and premature deterioration of the underlayment and roofing materials. Compatibility with other roofing components, such as flashing and valleys, should be considered to ensure a watertight seal and overall system integrity.

OKC Roofers is widely recognized as the top underlayment installation company in OKC, boasting years of experience in the roofing industry. Our commitment to excellence and dedication to delivering top-notch services have earned them a stellar reputation among homeowners and businesses. With our extensive knowledge and expertise, OKC Roofers ensures that every underlayment installation is executed precisely and carefully. They understand the importance of selecting suitable underlayment materials and tailoring them to meet the specific needs of each roofing project. Whether a residential or commercial property, OKC Roofers consistently delivers exceptional results, providing long-lasting underlayment solutions that offer superior protection and performance. Their team of skilled professionals takes pride in their craftsmanship, attention to detail, and commitment to customer satisfaction. Regarding underlayment installation in OKC, OKC Roofers is the go-to company for their unmatched expertise and proven track record.

 Maintenance and Replacement

Routine maintenance practices, such as regular roof inspections and gutter cleaning, are essential to monitor the condition of the underlayment. Signs that may indicate the need for underlayment replacement include:

  • Visible wear and tear
  • Water stains on the ceiling
  • An increase in energy costs due to compromised thermal insulation

If any of these signs are present, it is recommended to consult with a roofing professional to assess the condition of the underlayment and determine if replacement is necessary.


Underlayment is crucial in roofing systems, providing weather protection, moisture control, thermal insulation, and enhanced durability. When choosing underlayment, it is essential to consider factors such as climate, roofing material, roof slope and design, building codes, budget, and longevity. Various underlayment materials, including asphalt-saturated felt, synthetic underlayment, rubberized asphalt, and specialty underlayments, offer different benefits and are suitable for specific applications.

Correct installation, ventilation, and compatibility with other roofing components are vital for optimal underlayment performance. Regular maintenance and timely replacement ensure the long-term effectiveness of the underlayment. Choosing the best underlayment for your roofing system ensures optimal roof performance and longevity, protecting your investment for years.

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