Exploring Different Types of Roofing Decking: Which One is Right for You?

by | Jul 13, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

Roofing decking plays a crucial role in the overall structure of a building. It provides the foundational support for the roof system and plays a significant part in ensuring its stability and longevity. Choosing the correct type of roofing decking is of utmost importance to ensure the structural integrity of the building and the effectiveness of the entire roofing system. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of roofing decking and provide valuable insights to help readers make informed decisions when selecting the appropriate material for their roofing projects.

Understanding Roofing Decking

Roofing decking refers to the layer of material installed over a roof’s structural supports, such as rafters or trusses. Its primary function is to provide a stable and secure base for the roof covering materials, such as shingles, tiles, or metal sheets. In addition to supporting the roof coverings, the decking also contributes to the overall structural support of the building.

The key functions of roofing decking include:

  • Providing structural support to the roof system.
  • Distributing the weight of the roof evenly across the supporting structure.
  • Serving as a base for the installation of various roofing materials.

It also helps prevent water, debris, and pests from infiltrating the building’s interior.

Selecting a durable and appropriate roofing decking material is crucial to ensure the long-term performance and integrity of the roof. The suitable decking material should withstand the environmental conditions specific to the building’s location, provide sufficient load-bearing capacity, offer fire resistance, and fit within the allocated budget.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Roofing Decking

1. Climate and Weather Conditions

A region’s climate and weather conditions play a significant role in determining the ideal roofing decking material. Different materials have varying degrees of resistance to specific climate elements. For example, choosing a decking material that can withstand moisture without warping or deteriorating is essential in areas with heavy rain or snow. Similarly, regions with extreme heat or UV exposure require high heat resistance and UV protection decking materials.

2. Weight and Load Bearing Capacity

The weight and load-bearing requirements of the roof system should also be carefully considered. The decking material must support the weight of the roof coverings and any additional loads, such as snow accumulation or equipment installed on the roof. It is crucial to consult with a structural engineer or roofing professional to ensure that the chosen decking material meets the necessary load-bearing specifications.

3. Fire Resistance

Fire resistance is vital in selecting roofing decking materials, particularly in areas prone to wildfires or strict fire safety regulations. Certain materials, such as fire-rated plywood or Class A fire-rated metal decking, offer higher levels of fire resistance. Investing in fire-resistant decking can help mitigate the risk of fire-related damage and improve overall safety.

4. Cost and Budget

Budget considerations also play a role in determining the type of roofing decking material used. Different materials have varying costs, and balancing budget constraints and the desired quality and performance is essential. While cost is an important consideration, it is crucial to maintain the long-term durability and reliability of the roofing decking.

Types of Roofing Decking Materials

1. Plywood Decking

Plywood is one of the most commonly used roofing decking materials. It is versatile, readily available, and offers good strength and durability. Plywood is typically made of thin wood veneers glued together, resulting in a strong and stable material. It is available in various thicknesses and grades, with higher grades offering better resistance to moisture and weathering.

2. Oriented Strand Board (OSB) Decking

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) is another popular choice for roofing decking. It is made by compressing and gluing together wood strands in specific orientations, resulting in a strong and dimensionally stable panel. OSB is generally more cost-effective than plywood and offers similar structural properties. However, it is more susceptible to moisture damage and may require proper sealing and protection.

3. Metal Decking

Metal decking, such as steel or aluminum, is often used in commercial and industrial roofing applications. It offers excellent strength, durability, and fire resistance. Metal decking comes in various profiles and thicknesses, and it can provide additional structural support, eliminating the need for separate decking and support systems. However, metal decking can be more expensive than other options and may require professional installation.

4. Concrete Decking

Concrete is a durable and long-lasting material used in roofing applications, particularly for flat roofs or decks. Precast or poured-in-place concrete panels can be a reliable decking material, providing excellent strength and resistance to fire and weathering. However, concrete decking is heavier and may require additional structural support. It is commonly used in commercial or multi-story buildings.

5. Wood Plank Decking

Wood plank decking is often chosen for historical or aesthetic purposes, particularly restoration projects. It adds a traditional and rustic charm to a building’s exterior. However, wood decking requires regular maintenance to prevent rot, decay, and insect infestation. Choosing durable and treated wood materials is essential to ensure proper sealing and protection against moisture.


Choosing the suitable roofing decking material is a critical decision that impacts the overall performance and longevity of a building’s roof system. Considering factors such as climate, load-bearing requirements, fire resistance, and budget constraints is crucial in making an informed decision. Whether opting for plywood, OSB, metal, concrete, or wood plank decking, each material has unique advantages and considerations.

By carefully assessing specific needs and consulting with professionals, individuals can select the most suitable roofing decking material for their projects. Investing in a well-chosen roofing decking material ensures structural integrity, protection against the elements, and long-term durability. Ultimately, the right choice contributes to the overall performance and longevity of the entire roof system, providing peace of mind for years to come.

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