Misconceptions, myths, half-truths—there are a lot of these surrounding synthetic roofing underlayment (and underlayment in general, for that matter). So how do you know what’s true and what isn’t? As underlayment experts ourselves, we can help! Read below because we’re going to debunk some common misconceptions and myths about synthetic underlayment.
Synthetic Underlayment Isn’t Necessary
This one is tough to address because the truth is, it depends. As we covered in a prior post, technically, underlayment isn’t 100% necessary—and that includes both synthetic roofing underlayment and traditional roofing felt.
That is, it isn’t necessary in areas that aren’t regulated by building codes.
Building codes vary from one region to the next, and most all building codes require felt or synthetic roofing underlayment. In areas that do have building codes, you’ll need to follow what the code says. Many places allow underlayments of all kinds. Others—for instance, Miami-Dade County in Florida, which is quite well known for stringent roofing codes—will require you to pick from a relatively short list of approved products, many or most of which will be synthetic.
What’s more, even though underlayment isn’t technically necessary unless stipulated by code, you should consider it a requirement. When you don’t install underlayment, you drastically shorten the life of the roof and the deck and structures beneath it since there is much less protection against moisture.
All Synthetic Underlayments Are Created Equally
This one we can safely say is not true at all! You’ll find differences in quality from manufacturer to manufacturer, and even among individual product lines. Some synthetic underlayments are designed to be budget-friendly, offering a good amount of protection for a lower cost, while others are designed to weather all but the most apocalyptic of storms.
You can see that among Epilay products, for example. Our Protectite Plasfelt is a budget-friendly, lightweight product that comes in a 6.5-mil thickness while at the other end of the spectrum, we have Protectite Platinum, which costs a little more and offers a more durable 17-mil thickness.
Synthetic Underlayment Is Too Expensive
This one is a half-truth. It is true that synthetic underlayment is a little more expensive than asphalt roofing felt. That doesn’t mean it’s not a better value, however.
We addressed this in detail in another post, but the short version is this: It’s all about the lifespan of the roof. Traditional felt underlayment is usually rated to last between 12 and 20 years. Meanwhile, Protectite Platinum gives you a 40-year limited warranty, which is two to three times the lifespan.
So in terms of value over time, you can either use roofing felt—and expect to re-roof the home every ten years or so. Or you can pay a little more initially for synthetic underlayment but save big in the long run because the roofing system lasts longer.
Synthetic Underlayment Is Slippery When Wet
This may be true of some manufacturers—we can’t speak to the qualities or lack thereof for every product out there, after all. But what we can tell you is that this is definitely not true of Epilay products.
That’s because all of our products feature GripWalk, which is a unique, textured top layer. Not only does it give you higher traction on sloped roofs—even when wet—but it’s also light-colored, which makes for a cooler rooftop when you’re working in the heat.
Synthetic Underlayment Is Difficult to Fasten
Ever punched a nail through asphalt felt, only to watch it tear around the puncture? This doesn’t happen with synthetics, which by and large feature much greater tear resistance than asphalt paper.
Beyond that, there is quite a bit of confusion surrounding the types of fasteners that you can use with synthetic underlayment. For the most part, though, you won’t need anything exotic. Synthetics can be installed with a variety of fasteners, some of which you likely use with felt, too. As an example, the installation instructions for Protectite Superior list standard roofing nails with 3/8” heads, plastic cap nails or staples, and hammer tacker 3/8” crown staples.
So there you have it—some of the greatest mysteries surrounding synthetic roofing underlayment solved! By far, it’s a much more durable addition to roofing systems compared to traditional felt, and that’s why so many roofers are making the switch.