How Roofers Built Roofs

Have you ever wondered how roofers built their homes? Do you know what these various materials are? There are several types of roofing materials: built-up roofing, plywood, and OSB. In this article, we’ll discuss what each of these materials does and how they fit together to form a roof. After that, we’ll discuss Sheathing and Roof trusses. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll understand what these materials do for a home’s roof.

Ply sheets of built-up roofing

Ply sheets of built-up roofing are special fabric layers that are layered over a layer of hot or cold bitumen. The ply sheets overlap to create a more stable roof layer and are often reinforced with fiberglass or other organic materials. These roof layers also keep out the elements and are durable enough to be used in commercial buildings. Ply sheets are generally produced with a standard width of 36 inches.


Sheathing is the material that holds a roof together and gives it strength and durability. Roofing professionals use sheathing to prevent a house from sagging and to give the roof its optimum design. The best way to check for broken sheathing is to check the attic. If you can see a wavy roofline, the sheathing has likely deteriorated. If you can feel the wood giving way, the roof has suffered a weakened sheathing.

Roof trusses

Traditionally, roofers have built roofs with rafters made of 2×8 or 2×10 lumber. The rafters, or vertical support beams, connect the roof to the exterior walls of the home. These beams support the roof’s weight and are connected together with ridge boards that are fastened to the rafter boards. Rafter boards are usually wrapped with insulation or other material and fastened to the faces of the trusses. Ridge beams are used in place of rafter boards if the trusses are wider than the ridge boards.

Roof underlayment

Felt underlayment has been used by roofers for decades, and is still a common choice. It is inexpensive and easy to install, but is not completely waterproof. Typically, roofing contractors use 15-pound felt. Thicker 30-pound felt is stronger and more resistant to damage. Felt is being phased out by roofers due to its poor waterproofing qualities. However, it will work for some roofing applications, including flat roofs.

Metal roofing

Metal roofs are made from coils of metal, which are long continuous metal rolls. These are treated and coated. The metal is cut into panels that mimic the shape of other types of roofing materials. These panels are then seamed together to form a roof. Roofers should also be familiar with the terms “tin roof” and “steel roof” as these do not refer to metal roofing. However, if you are considering installing metal roofing on your home, there are a few things you should know.

Wood roofs

Depending on the wood species, a wooden roof can last a long time. However, deterioration can occur if the shingles are too thin. Other factors that contribute to a roof’s depreciation are exposure to rainwater, the type of shingles used, and the slope of the roof. Rainwater, grit, ultraviolet rays, and wind will all affect the wood shingles.

Pre-fabricated trusses

Traditionally, roofers constructed trusses from large lumber and then arranged them on-site, a labor-intensive process that can take up to a week. But with the invention of pre-fabricated trusses, roofers no longer have to deal with this mess and can complete a roof in just one day. This method also allows them to build a roof of virtually any custom design, as the trusses can span more distance without the use of interior walls.

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