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Guide to Roofing Felt Costs

Roofing felt is installed onto the plywood of a roof before the shingles are placed. The roofing felt acts as an additional barrier to moisture and the elements and aids in the prevention of leaks and roof damage. Roofing felt is the most common type of roofing underlayment and is sold in large rolls. They are cheap and necessary. See all their costs below.

The Costs 

  • The average minimum cost per square foot of roofing felt is $.39.

  • The average maximum cost per square foot of roofing felt is $.58.

In addition to the cost of the roofing felt, labor costs for installing the roofing felt average $55.20 per hour when the felt is installed by a professional roofer. Additional supplies and tools for roofing felt installation add another $.10 per square foot of roofing felt. The cost for installing roofing felt on a steeply-sloped roof is higher than on a roof with a low slope. Installation of roofing felt on a roof with more than 12 planes costs more than installing roofing felt on a less complex roof. Many cities require a permit for a new roof installation. This may add to the cost of roofing felt installation.

Material Types, Sub-types and Uses

There are three basic types of roofing felt. These include black asphalt-saturated felt, rubberized asphalt and non-bitumen synthetic. The black asphalt felt paper is the most commonly used roofing felt. It is ideal for use on homes and on steeply-sloped roofs. Roofing felt may be comprised of cellulose or fiberglass. Cellulose is the most common material. The roofing felt comes in two thicknesses: 15 pound and 30 pound. The 30-pound roofing felt is used in areas with heavy precipitation and wider temperature extremes. Thirty-pound roofing felt is more resistant to damage during the installation of shingles or roofing tiles and will protect the roof longer if shingles are damaged or blown off during a storm. Roofing felt is used on residential and commercial roofs but may also be used on outdoor sheds, garages and other places where a weather-resistant barrier is desired.

Advantages of Roofing Felt

Roofing felt is an important part of the roofing system of any house or building. Roofing felt is an inexpensive form of underlayment. New varieties of roofing felt are breathable and reduce condensation in the attic areas of a building. Roofing felt may boost the insulating abilities of the roofing materials. Placing roofing felt on the roof before the shingles or tiles are laid adds to the safety for the roofers. Roofing felt may boost the fire rating of the roofing system.

In some cases, roofing felt may be required to get a passing grade for a fire inspection. Roofing felt may resist or block the infiltration of moisture and water. Roofing felt can act as a temporary repair or barrier between when old shingles are removed and when new ones are placed. The roofing felt helps protect the roof decking and shingles from leaching chemicals and resins onto each other. 

Some roofers and shingle manufacturers require the installation of roofing felt in order to maintain the standards and requirements for the roof's warranty. Some shingle manufacturers require roofing felt be installed before laying shingles. Some municipalities require the installation of roofing felt in order to maintain structural and safety standards.

Disadvantages of Roofing Felt

Roofing felt is not waterproof. It will not completely prevent the penetration of water from damaged or missing shingles to the roof's decking. Once the roofers nail the asphalt shingles onto the roofing paper, the hundreds or even thousands of nails that attach the shingles to the roof will penetrate the roofing felt. All of these openings allow water and moisture to access the roof's wood decking.

Roofing felt includes materials that use fossil fuels. These products are non-sustainable. Roofing felt cannot be recycled. Most roofing felt does not come with any sort of a manufacturer's warranty against failure. Intense heat from the sun penetrating through the shingles can cause the roofing felt to deteriorate. Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays also causes degradation of the roofing felt. When the roofing felt absorbs moisture, it may wrinkle or warp, pulling away from the roof decking. If the roofing felt warps or becomes saturated with moisture, it may push up the shingles and cause them to curl.  In hot climates, roofing felt is less effective as a moisture barrier.

Great care must be taken during the installation of roofing felt, otherwise, it will not adhere properly to the roof decking. Roofing felt tends to degrade and may not last as long as the shingles or roofing tiles. Vermin and pests are easily able to penetrate through roofing felt. On flat roofs or roofs with a low slope, roofing felt by itself may not be a sufficient moisture barrier. An additional form of underlayment may be needed to achieve the right level of moisture protection.

Considerations When Installing Roofing Felt

Before roofing felt is installed, the roof decking must be thoroughly inspected. Roofing felt should not be installed over any sagging or rotted roof decking. Any moisture or debris on the roof decking must be removed before the roofing felt is installed. Roofing felt requires a minimum overlap of 4 inches between seams of felt and an overlap of 6 inches at roof valleys, peaks and intersections with flashing and fascia. Roofing felt must be attached to the decking with plasticap nails to resist wind damage. Using regular roofing nails may result in an incorrect and ineffective installation. The expected lifespan of the roofing felt should be matched to the lifespan of the shingles.

Last updated on Jul 15, 2014

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