There are two main types of peel-and-stick roofing products: waterproofing membrane, or underlayment, and bitumen roofing. Peel-and-stick roofing products are easy to use, as they do not require special tools or techniques and widely are available from roofing supply companies. These products are now used commonly instead of torch-down products, which require heat as the adhesive-backed membrane is applied.
When reroofing, a waterproof membrane generally is applied between the wooden roof surface and the roof tiles or other covering. This membrane prevents water from seeping under roof tiles and causing rot. This layer can be applied quickly and easily using peel-and-stick membranes, which usually are single ply and made of PVC or a similar material. They work like a giant sticker – the roofer peels off a liner from the membrane to reveal a sticky adhesive, which he presses down on the wood.
Bitumen roofing also is available as a peel-and-stick product. It is similar to a waterproof membrane, but has been sealed with a mineral-based bitumen surface and can be used in place of roof tiles. Bitumen roofing resembles asphalt and commonly is used on shed or garage roofs, or on homes with flat roofs located in warmer climates. Peel-and-stick bitumen roofing is safer and easier to apply than torch down bitumen or bitumen applied with hot tar.
Peel-and-stick products are faster to apply than other types of roofing, as they do not require additional adhesive. They also can be safer to apply and may be especially useful in situations in which the building being roofed is occupied, as they speed up roofing and do not produce strong odors. Once the peel-and-stick products are on the roof, they provide immediate protection as they do not need time to cure or dry. According to an article on the "Remodelling Guy" magazine website peel-and-stick products provide such good weather protection that some home insurance companies offer a discount if your roof has peel-and-stick underlayment.
The adhesive used in peel-and-stick products may not bond if the surface is wet, or if the temperature is too low. To use peel-and-stick products in temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you may need to apply a supplemental adhesive designed for low temperatures. Peel-and-stick waterproofing membranes also can be more expensive than torch-down waterproofing and can be very slippery until covered with tiles.
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