9 Residential Roofing Layers You Need To Know About

You may not give your roof much thought if it is doing its job. Yet, when you consider the job it has, you may want to know a bit more about it. Consider: underneath your roof is just about everything you hold near and dear. Pets, personal possessions, family members, sentimental mementos, furniture, artwork. Everything you own is held safe from wind, weather, and water by your roof. How does it do such a demanding job? 

Bare Bones

Get down to the bare bones of your roof and you will find the framing. The rafters that create the pitch, or angle, of your roof also support every other layer above them. Cracked, bowed, cupped or rotted rafters spell trouble.

Your Miami home’s roof depends on strong framing. Given our area’s issues with high winds and hurricanes, those rafters and trusses are usually anchored to the walls with hurricane clips. 

Heat is On

Between the joists of the attic floor, and very often on the underside of your roof’s sheathing, you will find insulation. In Miami insulation seldom has to contend with low temperatures, but to keep heat out of your home (and lower your central air conditioning bill!), you need adequate insulation. 

What does “adequate” mean? In our band of the country, the federal Energy Star program recommends R30 to R60 attic insulation. Most homeowners discover that adding blown-in insulation on top of rolled batts is an economical way to save on energy bills. 

Air it Out

No home is a sealed vacuum. It cannot be; in Miami especially, airflow into and out of the attic helps keep your roof in tip-top shape. Ventilation is essential in equalizing humidity and temperature in the attic, matching the outside air. This helps preserve the clean, treated air inside your home. 

Roof ventilation includes clear soffit vents, ridge vents, gable vents and other methods of keeping natural convection currents moving through the space. Without ventilation, your attic becomes a moldy, mildewy oven. 


Atop the rafters but below every other roof layer, you will see sheathing. This can be plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). These sheets provide the support for your roof, but also give a surface for board insulation, should you want to add that extra protection. 

Properly installed sheathing is not tightly fitting. It is installed with a very slight gap on all sides to allow for thermal expansion. Some roofing issues arise from too-tight sheathing; leaks can develop from too-loose sheathing. A highly professional roofer knows how to get sheathing just right. 

Water (and Ice) Shield

Admittedly, the thick, self-adhesive rubberized layer that is water and ice shield is almost never asked to ward off ice in Miami. Applied to the bottom three feet of most roofs, and usually laid along valleys, this thick layer is self-sealing and completely waterproof. 

It is an added layer of protection against water infiltration in walls, attic, and into the sheathing. You may even qualify for insurance savings by having this roofing layer – talk to your insurance agent to learn more.


Underlayment is an odd word. It is the right name, though, for a layer that lays under the roofing material but over the sheathing, and is meant to prevent water infiltration. 

In case your tile, shakes, metal panels, or shingles allow water down beneath them, underlayment forms a barrier that moves water down to your Miami home’s gutters. 

Lay It On Me

Finally, we have arrived at the highly visible layer of your roof, the finished surface. You may have a roof with any of these materials:

  • Fiberglass-asphalt shingles — America’s most popular roofing material
  • Asphalt — Asphalt is used for low-slope or “flat roofs, as over a porch or addition
  • Metal — Famous for durability and longevity 

Just Venting

Ridge vents are commonly used in shingle roofing. They cap the ridge, or uppermost line, of your roof where one roof angle meets another. Ridge vents help keep your attic temperatures and humidity stable. 

Ridge vents are usually designed to provide about 1.5 inches of mesh-like insulation that allows airflow. They are underneath shingles and look identical to the rest of your roof. Most people do not notice their ridge vents, but ridge vents make a noticeable difference in your roof’s performance

News Flash

Flashing is a thin metal used to bridge joints of different materials. It is found in valleys, around chimneys, and anywhere one material (stone or concrete, for example) meets another material (shingles or metal roofing, for example). 

Flashing allows the materials to expand and contract in response to temperature changes while preventing water from seeping into the cracks. 

When you add up the nine layers of protection your Miami roof provides, you can better appreciate the value of a good roofer. Consider the value of annual inspections and maintenance. Contact us today at A1 Property Services to let us help you maintain your Miami home’s roof for years to come.