When it comes to protecting your home from the elements, a sturdy and dependable roof is essential. While the roofing materials that are visible may garner much of the attention, a roofing component not well-known by homeowners serves as the foundation of a strong roofing system: roof decking.

Perhaps, you’ve been told while getting roof replacement bids that your roof decking needs to be replaced. Or maybe you’re starting to notice some of the symptoms of a shoddy roof deck.

Regardless, we want to help you understand what your roof deck is, why it’s so important and what to look for in terms of replacement. 

In this article, we will explore what roof decking is, its importance in maintaining a secure and durable roof, and why homeowners should pay attention to this crucial but unseen element. By understanding the significance of roof decking, you can ensure the long-term integrity and performance of your entire roofing system.

Roof Decking: The Foundation of Your Roof

Roof decking, also known as OSB sheathing, is the layer of material that lies directly on top of the structural supports of your roof, such as trusses or rafters. It provides a sturdy and stable base for the roofing materials to be installed upon. Roof decking serves several critical functions, including:

·       Structural Support: The roof decking distributes the weight of the roofing materials, such as shingles or tiles, evenly across the roof’s framework. This ensures that the weight is properly supported and prevents excessive stress on the underlying structure.

·       Stability and Rigidity: Securely fastening the roof decking to the roof’s framework adds stability and rigidity to the entire roofing system. This helps to resist the forces of wind, impact, and other external pressures, ensuring the roof remains intact during adverse weather conditions.

·       Moisture Protection: Roof decking acts as a secondary layer of defense against moisture intrusion. When properly installed and sealed, it creates a barrier that helps prevent water from seeping into the underlying structure and causing damage such as rot, mold growth, or compromised insulation.

·       Base for Roofing Materials: The smooth and even surface of the roof decking provides a solid foundation for the installation of roofing materials. It allows for proper alignment, secure attachment, and optimal performance of the chosen roofing system.

Most commonly, homeowners find out that their roof decking needs replacing while they’re collecting bids for a roof replacement. The most likely reason homeowners will need to replace their roof decking is due to age and the number of previous roof replacements.

Every time a home undergoes a roof replacement, each 4×8 sheet of plywood or OSB sheathing incurs between 115 and 175 nail holes. This means that the sheathing of houses built between the 1960s and the 1980s may have 300 to 500 nail holes per sheet! This roof decking has become too damaged to support nails for another new roof. This wood is more like swiss cheese than wood!

If your roof deck sustains damage from a weather event or from a leak, this may cause enough damage that certain areas need to be replaced.

Consequences of Ignoring Your Roof Decking

The consequences to not replacing your roof decking can be drastic. If your trusted roofing contractor suggests that it’s time to replace your roof decking, do not put it off. Getting opinions and bids from other roofing contractors is always a good practice and helps you feel confident you’re getting a fair assessment and price.

If you choose to not replace your roof decking when it’s needed, some consequences include:

·       Sagging or Uneven Roof Surface: A common sign of a failing roof deck is visual sagging or waviness when looking at your roofline. If you replace your roof without replacing your roof deck, your roof will sag in between your trusses or rafters, causing a noticeable and worrisome appearance.

·       Water Stains or Mold Growth: Damaged roof decking allows moisture to penetrate the underlying layers, leading to rot, mold growth, and water damage within the attic and interior spaces of the home. Water damage and mold growth can cost thousands to repair and remediate.

·       Excessive Shingle Wear and Tear: A faulty roof deck will take its toll on your shingles. If your roof deck is compromised enough, your shingles can easily be blown off by strong winds or weather.

·       Compromised Structural Integrity: Over time, weakened roof decking can compromise the stability and load-bearing capacity of the entire roofing system, potentially leading to sagging or even collapse.

·       Decreased Energy Efficiency: Defective roof decking can result in air leaks, compromising the energy efficiency of the home and leading to increased heating and cooling costs.

If your roof deck needs to be replaced, do not put it off. Your roof deck plays an extremely important role in protecting your home and sustaining its structural integrity.

Types of Roof Decking Materials & Associated Cost

In Central Kentucky, common types of roof decking materials include:

·       Plywood: Often made of multiple layers of thin wood veneers glued together, plywood provides strength, durability, and resistance to moisture. Plywood with a minimum thickness of 5/8 inch is recommended for roof decking on homes in Kentucky.

·       Oriented Strand Board (OSB) Sheathing: OSB is composed of wood strands that are compressed and bonded with adhesive resins. It offers similar strength and durability to plywood and is a cost-effective option.

Your overall cost for replacing your roof deck will depend on the material used, the price of the material (plywood costs can fluctuate greatly), and how much needs to be replaced.

Lifespan and Replacement Frequency for Roof Decking

The lifespan of roof decking can vary depending on factors such as the quality of the material, climate conditions, and proper maintenance. Here in Kentucky, where extreme weather events and temperature fluctuations occur, it is advisable to inspect the roof decking periodically. On average, roof decking may last for two or even three roof replacements. However, factors like moisture damage, insect infestations, or inadequate ventilation can shorten its lifespan.

Does Your Home Need New Roof Decking?

Roof decking is a fundamental component of a sturdy and reliable roofing system. Acting as the foundation for your roof, it provides structural support and evenly distributes the weight of the roofing materials.

Roof decking is just one of the pieces that make up your entire roofing system. We created our Learning Center and YouTube channel to help homeowners feel knowledgeable about each part of their roof and help answer important questions about the roofing process.

In order to make sure you’re getting a great price on your roof replacement, we also recommend getting multiple bids from top rated roofing companies in the Central Kentucky area. In our Learning Center, we outline tips on how to select a reliable contractor and make an apples-to-apples comparison across your roofing bids.

AIC Roofing & Construction has replaced over 10,000 roofs in the Lexington, Louisville and Richmond, KY areas. We are in the top 2% of roofing contractors in North America that received the GAF Master Elite Certification. Working with a GAF Master Elite certified contractor should give you peace of mind that you’re working with an experienced roofer that has undergone rigorous training. Along with our GAF Master Elite certification is an extended material and craftsmanship warranty. We renew this certification every year as part of our commitment to excellence. If you’re preparing for a roof replacement or would like a second opinion – only trust your home to the best. Contact us today for a free estimate on your roof.

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