About 80 percent of all homes have asphalt shingles, according to All Bay Home Inspection Inc. The shingles are composed of a felt core coated with several layers of asphalt, and the top asphalt layer is embedded with granular material that provides color and protection from the sun's rays. Rolled roofing is essentially the same material, but it is manufactured in rolls 18 or 36 inches wide.
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Rolled roofing is typically used on secondary buildings such as chicken pens and tool sheds where looks are not a high priority; it performs best on low-sloped or flat roofs. Expect a lifespan for rolled roofing of five to 15 years, although Roof Helper says the lifespan is typically less than 10 years. Because it is a single-ply material, rolled roofing has a shorter life than strip shingles, which generally last 15 to 30 years. Rolled roofing is low-cost and reasonably resistant to weather. It is also relatively easy to install. But it should not be used in areas that receive heavy rain or snowfall annually.
Rolled roofing warps and buckles as it expands. Then the granular coating breaks down in the wrinkled areas, causing even more wear. All Bay Home Inspection Inc. recommends that homeowners check rolled roofing for granular deterioration, which is the first sign that a roof covering needs replacing. Check rolled roofing in roof valleys -- the areas where two sections of a roof meet, forming a trough -- for cracking, tearing and other signs of deterioration. Users can help rolled roofing last longer by ensuring all overlaps, edges and surface nails stay completely sealed.
Rolled Roofing Types
The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association describes the four basic types of rolled roofing materials: Smooth-surfaced roll roofing is used primarily as flashing to seal roofs at intersections and protrusions and to provide extra protection for the deck (the material covering the house's rafters and providing the surface for roof coverings) at eaves and valleys. Saturated felt is used as underlay between the roof deck and the roofing material. Specialty-eaves flashing is a self-adhering sheet material intended for special flashing applications along eaves and other areas, particularly where ice dams and water backups occur. And mineral-surfaced rolled roofing is used by itself as a primary roof covering.
Depending on roof slope, you can apply rolled roofing using either an exposed or concealed nail method, says U.S. Inspect. In the concealed nail method, roofers drive nails into the rolled roofing material and then cover the nails with cemented, overlapping material. This leaves nails unexposed to the weather. In the exposed nail method -- the quickest and easiest method, although not necessarily the longest-lasting -- nails are driven into the cemented overlapping material, leaving them exposed to the weather.