Roof Components for a Shingle Roof

There are generally five main components to any asphalt-based roof system.  These five components are not specific to any one brand but are rather generally required by all of the major shingle manufacturers to obtain the full manufacturer’s warranty.  These five components are stated and explained in more detail in the sections below:

Component #1: Waterproof Underlayment

The first component is a waterproofing underlayment called ice and water shield.  Ice and water shield protects against ice dams that can sometimes form above the overhangs at the bottom of the roof.  Manufacturers also recommend or require ice and water shield to be installed at other vulnerable areas as well such as in valleys and around other penetrations (pipe collars, skylights, vents, etc.).

Component #2: Water-Resistant Underlayment

The second component is a water-resistant underlayment that acts as a secondary barrier against leaks.  Historically the roofing industry has used either 15lb or 30lb felt but many roofers have now made the change to a synthetic-based underlayment.  Synthetic underlayments are stronger and lay flatter than both the 15lb or 30lb roof felt options.

Component #3: Starter Shingles:

Starter shingles are a specially made shingle that must be applied at the bottom of the roof to help seal the bottom row of shingles.  Starter shingles are required to maintain the manufacturer’s wind warranty.  We also install starter shingles along the side edges (rakes) of the roof so that the shingles will not droop over the edge as time passes and so that we can provide a straight, aesthetically pleasing line of shingles up the edge of the roof.

Component #4: Shingles:

There are so many shingle options to choose from in today’s market.  Many pages could be written on shingle options alone.  However, there are generally three major types of asphalt shingles.  The first is the traditional 3-tab shingle, which come standard with a 25-year limited material warranty, a 60-mph wind warranty, and a 10 year algae warranty.  The second and most popular option is the dimensional (aka architectural) shingle.  These limited lifetime shingles usually have a 110 or 130 mph wind warranty, last longer than 3-tab shingles, and may also include other benefits such as a lifetime algae warranty or longer transferrable period.  A limited lifetime dimensional shingle is just fractionally more expensive than a traditional 3-tab shingle so most of our clients select this type of shingle.  The third major category of asphalt-based shingles is the designer shingle.  Designer shingles have unique looks and are popular in higher-end neighborhoods or commercial areas but are also more expensive.  Designer shingles can vary greatly in price.

Component #5: Hip and Ridge Caps

Hip and ridge cap shingles are the last main component of your roof.  Some roofing companies try skip this step to save a few dollars by not putting down the factory-designed ridge caps.  However, not putting down the factory-made ridge caps can void your warranty.

A Note About Ventilation

Shingle manufacturers also require a roof to be properly ventilated to maintain their warranty.  Ventilation can come in a variety of forms and may not always be installed directly on the roof.  However, it’s important that there is both intake and exhaust ventilation on every roof.  A lack of ventilation can greatly decrease the lifespan of a roof and cause mold and mildew to form underneath the roof decking.  We’d be happy to go over the ventilation requirements specific to your roof based on our local building code.


These five components + proper ventilation are critical to the longevity of any shingle roofing system.  CertainTeed, which is one of the nation’s largest shingle manufacturers calls these five roof components + ventilation the “Integrity Roof System” as shown in the picture.  We at A Plus Roofing are happy to answer any further questions you may have about the components of a roof system.

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