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Roof tiles

Roofs are more than just coverings that protect us from the elements. They are an essential part of any building made up of several different components, each playing a role in maintaining the integrity and longevity of the roof. However, not every homeowner understands the different components that make up a roof and their functions. For this reason, we have compiled a list of the top 5 roof components you need to know, as understanding their functions can help you diagnose roofing issues as well as make informed decisions when it comes to roof maintenance and repairs. From roof shingles to the underlayment, we’ll take a closer look at each piece of the puzzle and explain why it’s so important to the overall health of your roof.

Roofing materials

The roofing material, also known as roof tiles or shingles, is the roof’s outermost layer and its most important component because it shields your home from various outside elements, such as sun, rain, wind, and so on. There are many different types of roofing materials available on the market today, and each material has its own strengths and weaknesses. So it all comes down to choosing the right roofing material based on your preferences and needs. Some of the most common ones are listed below –

Asphalt shingles

They are the most affordable type of roofing material. They can also come in different colours and shades, shapes, sizes and styles. However, they are not very durable and may require frequent maintenance or replacement.

Roof tiles

Roofing tiles are a more durable roofing option than shingles. They can last up to 100 years if properly maintained and are resistant to fire, pests, and mould growth. Roof tiles are also known for their aesthetics and are available in a variety of materials, including clay, concrete, and slate. However, some roof tiles, especially slate, are expensive to install and may require additional structural support due to their weight.

Metal roofing sheets

Metal roofs are becoming increasingly popular due to their durability and energy efficiency, not only for commercial warehouses but also for private garages, sheds and extensions. They are also made using different materials, and can come in a variety of styles and colours. However, metal roofs can be expensive to install, and not all homes are suitable for this type of roofing material.

Wood shingles

They are a more traditional roofing material, typically made from cedar, redwood, or pine. This roof type is durable and eco-friendly, giving your home a natural look, though it may require more maintenance than other types of roofing materials. Wood shingles are also more prone to rot and pest damage.

Roof underlay

The roof underlay is a protective layer that is installed between the roofing material and the roof deck. Its primary function is to protect against water leaks and moisture, but some underlays can also provide thermal protection. There are several types of roof underlayment available, including:

  • Asphalt-saturated felt, also known as self-adhering underlayment, is the most common type of roof underlay used in UK homes. It is mostly made using recycled fibreglass substrate or natural organic materials, and is relatively inexpensive. However, it is not as durable as other types of underlayment and may need to be replaced more frequently.
  • Rubberised asphalt is another type of roof underlayment made primarily of asphalt and rubber. It is more expensive than asphalt-saturated felt, but it is more durable and can last up to 50 years. Rubberised asphalt underlay is also more resistant to water leaks and moisture, making it an excellent choice for areas prone to heavy rain.
  • Synthetic underlayment is a newer type of roof underlayment that is becoming increasingly popular in recent years. It is also more durable than asphalt-saturated felt and can last up to 50 years, similar to rubberised asphalt underlay. It is a better choice for homes that experience frequent strong winds because of its strong resistance to tears and punctures.


Flashing is another important component of your roof that helps prevent water leaks. It is typically installed around areas of your roof that are more prone to water damage, such as chimneys, skylights, and vents. Aluminium flashing is the most common type of flashing used on roofs, as it is lightweight, easy to install, and relatively inexpensive. However, it is more susceptible to corrosion and natural wear and tear over time. Copper flashing is a more durable alternative to aluminium flashing that can last up to 100 years with proper maintenance. It is also more resistant to corrosion and leaks, making it a better choice for areas with heavy rainfall.

Gutters and downspouts

Gutters and downspouts are essential components of your roof that help drain water and redirect it away from your home. Vinyl gutters are a popular option because they are lightweight, affordable, and corrosion-resistant. They may, however, fade or crack over time or under heavy load, requiring more frequent replacement.

Aluminium gutters are another common type of gutter used in homes and are also lightweight and relatively inexpensive. However, they are more prone to denting or corroding over time.


Proper ventilation is very important for maintaining the health and longevity of your roof. It helps to regulate the temperature and moisture levels in your home, which can prevent damage to your roof and internal structures while reducing your energy costs. Some of the most common roof ventilation components include:

  • Ridge vents are installed at the peak of your roof to improve ventilation by allowing hot air from your attic to escape. They are the most effective type of roof ventilation and can last up to 25 years.
  • Soffit vents are located in your roof’s eaves and allow cool air to enter your loft space. They work in conjunction with ridge vents to create a natural airflow in your home.
  • Gable vents are exhaust vents, similar to ridge vents, that are fitted on the sides of your roof to allow warm air to escape from your home. While they are less effective than ridge vents, they can still help improve your home’s air ventilation.

All in all, choosing the right roof components for your home can be challenging, but it’s essential to consider factors like cost, durability, and energy efficiency. It’s also important to work with a licenced and experienced roofing contractor or construction company that can help you choose the right materials for your home and ensure that they are installed correctly and within budget.