How Long Does Roof Underlayment Last?

Posted on May 9, 2023

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How Long Does Roof Underlayment Last?

The roofing material you choose for your roof acts as a protective shield against the harsh weather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It serves as the first line of defense for your home. However, there are other crucial elements that contribute to the durability and longevity of your roof. While we appreciate the attractiveness of well-installed shingles and strong gutters, there is another important component that often goes unnoticed, the roof underlayment.

At McClellands Contracting we take pride in providing homeowners with practical roofing knowledge that they can use to make smarter decisions for their homes. Amidst the abundance of articles discussing shingles and other materials, today we will shed light on the often-overlooked hero of your roof: the underlayment. In this blog post, we will discuss the mysteries surrounding this vital roof component and explore the different types of underlayment available on the market, the lifespan of each one, and the factors that affect the lifespan of this crucial part of your roofing system. 

Introducing The Roof Underlayment

Roof underlayment is a type of sheet or protective layer that occupies the space between your roof’s deck and chosen roofing material, such as shingles. During heavy rain or windy conditions, your shingles bear the brunt of these weather events and can suffer damage. During this time, the underlayment prevents the water that’s gotten past your damaged roofing material from going through the roof deck and damaging the interior of your home or business. While often unseen, its role is paramount in enhancing the overall performance and longevity of the roof.

The primary purpose of roof underlayment is to provide an additional layer of protection against water infiltration. It acts as a secondary barrier that prevents moisture from penetrating the roof deck, safeguarding the structural integrity of the roof and the underlying building materials. 

What Factors Affect How Long A Roof Underlayment Lasts?

Just like with your other roofing materials, the lifespan of roof underlayment can vary depending on several factors. As a homeowner, it’s important for you to understand these factors to assess the durability of your chosen underlayment and determine its maintenance needs. 

Here are some key factors that influence the lifespan of roof underlayment:

Climate and Weather Conditions

When it comes to your roof, the weather in a particular region is one of the crucial factors that affect the lifespan of roof underlayment. 

How long the roof’s underlayment will last largely depends on factors such as prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, sunlight, heavy rain, snow, ice, and high winds. All these conditions can accelerate the underlayment’s deterioration. Underlayment materials designed to withstand specific climate conditions should be selected to ensure long-lasting protection.

Installation Techniques

Proper installation techniques are critical for maximizing the lifespan of roof underlayment. Whether you opt for a traditional felt underlayment that is secured in place with nails, or an adhesive-based underlayment, both need to be professionally installed.

Improperly installed underlayment, such as that with incorrect fastening systems or inadequate overlap, can compromise the effectiveness and shorten the lifespan of the material. To avoid this problem, ensure that you hire a professional roofing company in Pittsburgh that has experience installing roof underlayments. Make sure that the contractor is following manufacturer guidelines and industry best practices during installation so that your roof can offer optimal performance.

Quality of The Underlayment

The quality of the underlayment material used can greatly influence its lifespan. Higher quality underlayment materials, whether traditional asphalt-saturated felt or synthetic options, are often durable, resistant to tearing, and have better waterproofing capabilities. 

The more durable your underlayment, the better the chance that it will exceed the average lifespan that is associated with a particular product. Investing in superior-quality materials can contribute to an extended lifespan of the underlayment. 

The Design and Slope of The Roof

The design and slope of the roof, as well as proper levels of ventilation, can impact the lifespan of the underlayment. A well-designed roof with an adequate slope will allow for proper water drainage. This will help reduce the risk of moisture buildup and extend the underlayment’s lifespan. 

Having the proper level of attic ventilation is another crucial factor to consider when it comes to the lifespan of your underlayment, as well as the lifespan of the rest of your roofing system. Adequate ventilation helps to prevent excessive heat and moisture accumulation, which can degrade the underlayment over time.

Regular Maintenance and Inspections 

Regular maintenance and inspections play a vital role in extending the lifespan of roof underlayment. Periodic inspections allow for the early detection of any damage or deterioration, which helps you stay on top of timely repairs or replacements. 

The Lifespan of Different Underlayment Materials

While the lifespan of underlayment varies based on several factors as we’ve covered in the previous section of this blog post, here is a general overview of the expected lifespan of common types of roof underlayment:

Felt Underlayment 

How Long Does Roof Underlayment Last?

Asphalt-saturated felt underlayment, or felt underlayment, is one of the oldest types of roof underlayment that is made with a fiberglass mat and coated with an asphalt layer. Felt underlayment is used on metal roofs, shingles, and tiles and lasts for around 10 to 20 years. 

The lifespan will vary depending on the thickness of the felt, with thicker felt such as a #30 felt roll generally offering greater durability and a longer lifespan than the #15 felt. 

Synthetic Underlayment

Synthetic Underlayment
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Recently introduced to the industry, this advanced version of underlayment has made a significant impact. It boasts exceptional durability and longevity, making it particularly well-suited for Pennsylvania’s climate. Synthetic underlayment, depending on its type and quality, can have an impressive lifespan of 20 to 35 years. Factors like UV resistance, tear strength, and overall material quality all play a role in its extended durability.

Rubberized Asphalt Underlayment

Rubberized Asphalt Underlayment

Rubberized asphalt underlayment is another new form of underlayment that is usually available in peel-and-stick sheets and does not require nailing down. Like synthetic underlayment, it can also last for 25 to 35 years and is well suited for stronger roofing materials such as metal or tile roofing systems.  

Its rubberized composition provides superior resistance against tears, impacts, and UV radiation, contributing to its extended lifespan. 

To know more about these types of underlayments, you can check out our blog post on the best underlayments for metal roofs

Remember that these are general considerations, and it is always recommended to consult with roofing professionals to determine the specific lifespan of roof underlayment based on your location, climate, and other relevant factors.

Install High-Quality Underlayment On Your Roof 

We now hope that you have a better idea about the importance of underlayment for your roof, and how long different types of underlayment last based on certain factors. 

If you’re in need of professional roof underlayment installation or replacement services, look no further than McClellands Roofing and Contracting. As a premier roofing company, we have a team of skilled experts who can ensure the highest quality installation or replacement of your roof underlayment. Contact us today at (412) 353-5660 for a consultation, and let us help you protect your roof for years to come.

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