roof decking

Guide to Roof Decking: What it is, Materials, and Repairs

A home roofing system includes more than just shingles. To shield your home from the elements, you need an extra layer of support and protection. That’s where roof decking comes into play. Read on to learn why this unseen roofing structure is so important.

What Is It?

Also called sheathing, roof decking is the foundation of a home’s roofing system. Essentially connecting the roof to the house, it is the base that lays on top of the structural trusses, covering the rafters and supporting the weight of the shingles.

Although you cannot see it, your roof deck is a critical structural component. And if a house’s roof decking is rotting, it can lead to leaks, sagging and all sorts of other serious problems.

What It Does

While it may seem secondary to your shingles, your roof deck is a vitally important structure that serves several critical functions, including:

  • It provides support for the shingles. Asphalt shingles are heavy, especially when you combine about two-and-a-half tons to cover a roof. The roof deck helps provide support for all this weight.
  • It reduces the risk of fire. As an added precaution, flame retardants are typically sprayed on a deck’s plywood base to make it more difficult for fire to spread.
  • It helps prevent leaks. When damaged shingles fail to defend a home from Mother Nature, the underlying decking acts as the second layer of protection. This reduces the risk of water seeping into your attic.

Roof Decking Material

Roof decking is typically made of plywood or OSB (Oriented Strand Board). A plywood composite, OSB is made of intertwining wood strands that are bonded together by a strong waterproof resin. OSB is generally less expensive than plywood. That said, because it is denser, plywood provides greater protection against moisture.

When Roof Decking Fails

damaged roof decking

Because it is made of wood or wood composites, roof decking is vulnerable to water damage and rot. This usually only occurs when it is continuously exposed to sustained moisture. Water can make its way down into roof decking due to missing, damaged or worn-out shingles. Torn flashing, overflowing gutters and clogged downspouts can also lead to problems. Ice dams and excessive snow accumulation can also cause water to penetrate your roofing surface and make its way down into the decking.

Unfortunately, because you can’t see it with the naked eye, your roof decking could sustain damage without you even knowing it. Still, there are some telltale signs of potential problems. These include:

  • Roof leaks
  • Peeling wallpaper
  • Wet spots on the interior ceiling
  • Stains on your walls
  • Water stains on your rafters
  • Mildew and mold in the attic
  • Sagging roofline or ceiling

If you notice any of these signs, it’s vital that you contact a reputable local roofing contractor to investigate the problem. Even a minor roof leak can lead to serious mold infestation which can cost thousands of dollars to repair. Even if you don’t notice signs of a problem, it’s important to have your roof regularly inspected. After all, it only costs a relatively small amount of money to repair a shingle or re-affix loose flashing. On the other hand, you could easily end up spending $5,000 to $10,000 on mold remediation costs if a leak goes unnoticed for too long.

Roof Decking Repairs

When your roof decking begins to rot, repair is generally not an option. Instead, it will have to be replaced as soon as possible. Whenever its roof decking is compromised, a home is experiencing serious structural damage that demands prompt attention. Delay will only make things worse, especially if you haven’t determined the cause of the water damage.

You can avoid expensive roof decking issues with regular roof repair, replacement and maintenance. Address roofing issues immediately and keep your gutters clean. Make sure to get routine inspections from roofing professionals at least twice a year and after any extreme weather events.

Need help with a roof leak or decking problem? Thinking about having your aging or damaged roof replaced? For decades, the professionals at A to Z Roofing have served countless satisfied customers throughout the Denver metro and the Front Range. For nearly a quarter of a century, we have been the go-to source for expert residential roofing repair and restoration for homeowners and businesses throughout Colorado. During this time, we’ve provided comprehensive service using only top-quality products. Contact our attentive team to learn how we can restore, repair or replace your damaged or aging roof.

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