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6 Problems With Synthetic Roof Underlayment

Posted on June 19, 2024

synthetic roof underlayment

As a homeowner, choosing the right roofing materials is crucial for protecting your investment and ensuring a durable, long-lasting roof. However, there are several other things that make up your roof apart from the roofing material, and it’s important to take care of these, too. One such important part of a roof is your underlayment. There are several types of underlayments available, but in this blog post, we’re only going to discuss synthetic roof underlayment. 

While synthetic roof underlayment has gained popularity in recent years, it’s essential to understand the potential issues that may arise when you use this material. In this blog post, we’ll explore six common problems with synthetic roof underlayment that can hurt your project if you don’t pay attention.  

Synthetic Roofing Underlayment
Synthetic Roofing Underlayment
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#1 Synthetic Roofing Underlayment Is Expensive 

A roofing project is already a significant investment for homeowners, and the choice of underlayment can further impact the overall costs. Synthetic roof underlayments are typically more expensive than traditional felt options, adding to the financial burden of the project. This higher upfront cost can be a deterrent, especially if you are working with limited budgets. While synthetic underlayment may offer potential long-term benefits, the initial expense can be a hurdle. 

For instance, the cost of synthetic underlayment is around $7.5 to $11 per square. On the other hand, felt roofing underlayment only costs around $5 per square foot. 

Another problem that most homeowners have is that it is a relatively new product on the market. This, coupled with the high cost, might make it less appealing to budget-conscious homeowners looking for long-term value.

#2 Vulnerability to UV Exposure and Deterioration

A roof replacement is often a time-consuming process, and during this period, the underlayment may be exposed to the elements for several days, or even weeks, before the primary roofing material is installed. 

While traditional felt underlayments can withstand a reasonable amount of UV exposure, the same cannot be said for synthetic options. Synthetic underlayments are susceptible to deterioration when exposed to excessive ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight. 

Even a relatively short period of UV exposure can cause the material to break down, become brittle, and lose its waterproofing capabilities. This issue is particularly problematic if the underlayment is left uncovered for an extended period due to construction delays or if the primary roofing material is damaged. In these cases, the compromised underlayment may fail to provide adequate protection against water intrusion, potentially leading to leaks and costly repairs.

#3 Compatibility Issues with Certain Roofing Materials

Synthetic underlayment is not always compatible with every type of roofing material. Some underlayments may react to the chemicals or resins present in specific roofing materials, leading to premature deterioration or adhesion issues. It’s crucial to ensure that the chosen synthetic underlayment is compatible with the primary roofing material to prevent compatibility-related problems down the line.

Moreover, it’s important to note that several building codes and regulations may prohibit the use of certain synthetic underlayments with specific roofing materials. These codes are in place to ensure the longevity and safety of residential and commercial structures. 

As a homeowner, it’s advisable to thoroughly research and consult with local authorities or professionals to ensure compliance with the relevant building codes in your area. If you don’t follow these rules, you might have to pay a lot of money in fines, or even replace your whole roof, if using the wrong materials causes problems with the structure’s strength and safety.

#4 Wrinkles and Buckling Due to Temperature Fluctuations

Temperature changes can significantly impact the performance of synthetic roof underlayments. As temperatures rise, the material may expand and wrinkle, creating gaps and channels for water to penetrate. 

Conversely, extreme cold can cause the underlayment to contract and buckle, leading to potential tears that allow for water to enter. These issues can be heightened in regions with extreme temperature swings, making synthetic underlayment less suitable for those types of climates.

#5 Limited Breathability and Potential for Condensation Build-Up

There are concerns about synthetic roof underlayments not being a good option when it comes to roof replacement projects as they tend to limit ventilation. 

Some contractors have complained that, unlike traditional felt underlayment, synthetic options tend to have lower breathability. This can lead to condensation build-up beneath the roofing material. This trapped moisture can create an ideal environment for mold growth, compromising indoor air quality and potentially causing structural damage over time. 

Ensuring proper ventilation and considering alternative underlayment materials may be necessary in regions with high humidity levels.

However, this may not pose a big problem if your home is adequately ventilated. To make sure your roof lasts longer and stays healthy, it’s important to have good airflow. This can be achieved by using soffit vents and ridge vents, which help air to move freely. 

#6 Potential for Slippage on Steep Roof Slopes and Removal Challenges

Most synthetic underlayments for roofs come in a peel-and-stick form. Though these do provide easy installation, they may not provide adequate traction on steep roof slopes, increasing the risk of slippage. 

This issue can pose significant safety hazards for roofing contractors during installation and can also lead to the underlayment sliding out of position over time. Proper adhesion techniques and the use of additional safety measures may be necessary when working on steep roofs with synthetic underlayments. 

Also, the smooth surface of these peel-and-stick synthetic underlayments can make them more challenging to remove compared to traditional felt options. This added difficulty in removal can further complicate the roofing process, particularly during re-roofing projects or repairs, potentially increasing labor costs and project timelines.

So Should I Avoid Installing Synthetic Underlayment On My  Roof? 

synthetic roof underlayment
synthetic roof underlayment

As you can see there are quite a few problems with synthetic underlayments but should you rule it out completely? No. 

The choice of underlayment material is a crucial decision that depends on various factors, including your local climate, building codes, roofing material compatibility, and budget. While synthetic underlayments may pose certain challenges, they can still be a viable option, especially if you have a metal roof. However, you need to make sure that they are installed correctly and with the proper precautions.

Here are some benefits of synthetic underlayment:

  • Despite being expensive, this type of underlayment lasts much longer than felt. You can expect synthetic underlayment to last for more than 20 years. 
  • Synthetic materials offer enhanced water resistance compared to asphalt felt and provide a more effective barrier against water infiltration.

One of the best ways to avoid most of these problems is to hire a professional roofing contractor to install your new underlayment. Roofing experts understand your home’s needs better and are equipped with the best tools to ensure that your underlayment is installed correctly. 

Also Read: Top Rated Underlayments For Metal Roof

Need Help? We Can Help You In Northeastern Wisconsin

It is always better to weigh the pros and cons of all the options available before you select the right underlayment. If it’s installed correctly, synthetic roof underlayment can be a good option, but it has its limitations. 
Prestige Roofing is a premier roofing company serving De Pere, and the surrounding areas of Northeastern Wisconsin. If you are looking to replace your roof or are still confused about which underlayment or material to choose, give us a call today at (920) 791-0414 and we will be happy to help.