What to Know About Roof Decking

Decking is the most important component of a roof. If the decking is not strong or supportive, neither will your roof. Shingles need to lay flat and must be nailed firmly to the decking. If they’re not, they simply will not last.

Why is roof decking important?

Here is a list of the numerous reasons roof decking is important:
  1. It provides a nail-able surface
  2. Shingles conform to the decking
  3. It needs to hold up in a storm
  4. Manufacturers specifications detail decking requirements

When it comes to repairing or replacing a roof, replacing or repairing the decking is just as important. As working roofers in Tulsa, OK, we see many roofs damaged by storms and hail. It’s always important to check the state of the decking as well as the state of the shingles before you start replacing the roof. Read on to learn more about roof decking.
Decking is the most important component of a roof. If the decking is not strong or supportive, neither will your roof. Shingles need to lay flat and must be nailed firmly to the decking. If they’re not, they simply will not last.

Roof Decking Provides a Nail-able Surface

If I said, “Nails need to hold the shingles down,” you would be like, “Duh! Everyone knows that.” But did you know that some decking is too thin, and some decking has gaps between each board, causing it to be unsuitable to have shingles nailed to it? Let’s look at a few examples. Decking on new construction houses nowadays is 7/16” OSB plywood at a minimum. Decades ago, the construction industry used 3/8” plywood or wood plank boards, also called 1×6. 7/16” is the new code minimum for decking thickness, so if your home has only 3/8,” this would leave you far short of minimum thickness. When plank boards were installed, sometimes the spacing between the boards would exceed ¼.” This might seem insignificant, but sometimes nails would be driven into this gap, completely missing the wood boards altogether. Both of those would not be considered good nail-able surfaces. Contacting the local building code office will allow you to find out what the minimum building requirements are in your area.

Shingles Conform to the Roof Decking

Shingles are flexible when warm; thus, they conform to the surface that is under them. That includes decking. Replacing boards that are soft and sagging is extremely important. Plank-style boards that are wider than 6” can curve upwards over time. Plywood should be installed overtop to correct this issue. A transition point from one pitch of a roof to another can have a height difference that can cause a shingle to not lay properly, thus requiring added material to make a smoother transition. These three areas that we just talked about can cause shingles to not lay flat if not addressed. Now you might say, “What’s the big deal?” Well, if shingles don’t lay flat, they tend to not seal properly, and eventually, they blow off. Decking that is not flat but wavy creates the same wavy pattern in shingles. This wavy pattern will create little dam-like areas where the water is not able to run off. Instead, the water will start to run horizontally. Water running horizontally creates leaks.

Roof Decking Needs to Hold Up in Storms

You need a roof that holds up to everything that is thrown at it. If the roof cannot, then what’s the point? More than likely, we all have seen pictures of a storm that has come through and blown off not only shingles but also plywood as well. Having the right size of plywood and making sure that plywood is fully secured to the rafters is extremely important. After the roof is torn off, make sure that all loose plywood is re-nailed. Shingles are only as good as the surface to which they are nailed. If loose plywood is not addressed, the roof can become susceptible to storms that blow through.

Manufacturers Specifications Detail Decking Requirements

Shingle manufacturers know how important decking is and how it affects the shingle they make. Some building codes will say decking has to meet manufacturers’ specifications, or “specs” for short. If the decking issues that we talked about here were not addressed when you installed your new roof, there is a great chance that if you ever needed to file a claim because of a defect in the shingles themselves, the warranty that came with the shingles can be voided out because they were not installed to the specs that they required. Always check what the minimum requirements are. Double-check with the roofing company you are using to make sure they are meeting these requirements.

Decking is the base of the whole roofing system. At Green Country Roofing, we always make sure that your roof meets these requirements and never shy away from getting in the attic if needed. We also make sure that all damaged wood is replaced and re-nailed where needed. If you have any questions about decking in addition to what we talked about here, please reach out to us and let us know. If you are about to embark on getting a new roof and are not sure about the size and style of decking that you have, we’ll come out and take a look because it’s always better to know before getting your new roof installed than after. For more information, contact us here.

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