Are roof shingles waterproof?

Shingles are used on just about every residential roof in Oklahoma, and they’re used for good reasons. They’re durable, customizable, and come in an array of colors and types.

But are they actually waterproof? You might be surprised.

Which roof shingles are waterproof?

Asphalt shingles are entirely waterproof due to their composition. These shingles don’t absorb water and are impervious to it. Wooden shingles, on the other hand, are not waterproof. They’ll absorb water due to their porous surface. These shingles (or “shakes”) are not very common in this part of the country but occasionally people like the look of them and want them on a house.

There’s more to a roof than just the shingles, though. A roof isn’t just composed of the material on the top. It’s a system that works seamlessly together to protect your home, and if any part of that system doesn’t work right the roof will leak.

The layers of a roof

A typical roof has several layers. First comes plywood sheathing laid over the rafters or trusses of the house. Then comes a layer of underlayment, occasionally still called “felt” even though modern materials have moved on. Finally comes the layer of shingles tacked on the top.

If a shingled roof were flat, it wouldn’t be waterproof at all. But the angle of the roof allows the shingles to shed water much like the feathers of a duck bathing itself. The water pours off the roof and never gets a chance to pour through.

If the underlayment and sheathing are compromised, though, it’s a different story. No matter how waterproof your shingles, a little water will still find its way over, under, around or through any obstacle if there’s a crack. That’s why a seamless and tight roof install requires a level of care and an eye for detail. Metal flashing is another possible point of failure on even an ostensibly waterproof roof. This waterproofing material is used around chimneys and other cutouts on a roof to direct water away.

Even under prolonged rain, most shingles are thick enough and most roofs have enough pitch to keep water off. Sure, most shingles are waterproof, but it doesn’t mean much unless your whole roof is. That’s why it’s important to get a qualified roof contractor to do any new construction, repairs or replacements on your roof. Call us today to set up an appointment if you need any roof work done and we’ll make sure your house stays safe and leak free.