Roofing Myth When installing a new roof you dont have to remove the felt paper underlayment

Myth: When Installing A New Roof, You Don’t Have To Remove The Felt Paper Underlayment.

Incorrect.  A roof replacement requires removing all existing layers of roof coverings down to the roof deck per IBC 2015 1511.3.  This includes the felt paper underlayment, even if it is in good condition.

For those who don’t know the IBC is the International Building Code and is what we (and all contractors) are required to follow.

ibc requirement for replacing felt underlay on new roofing jobs

Unfortunately, homeowners aren’t the only people who believe this myth – roofers sometimes tell their clients this, too.  So, we feel it necessary to bust this myth open.

This article will discuss why you must remove the felt paper roofing underlayment (also called tar paper) when installing a new roof and provide some horror stories from homeowners who didn’t listen to this advice.

Let’s go.

Felt Paper Underlayment – Don’t Cut Corners.

When installing a new roof, you must remove the existing layers of roof coverings down to the roof deck.  This includes the felt paper underlayment, even if it is in good condition.

replacing felt paper under baton rouge roof replacement

What is the purpose of felt paper underlayment?

Many people don’t realize the importance of the felt paper underlayment and often cut corners by trying to save time and money by not removing it.  But, this can lead to several problems down the road.  Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons why you should always remove the felt paper underlayment when installing a new roof.

Felt paper underlayment serves as a moisture barrier, protecting your roof deck from water damage.

If the felt paper is left in place when installing your new roof, it will trap moisture underneath the new roofing materials.  This can lead to water damage to the roof deck and mold and mildew growth.

And we all know what moisture can do to a wooden roof here in Louisiana.

roofing damage from not removing felt paper underlayment in baton rouge louisiana

If you look in the picture above, you can see that trapped moisture has eaten away at the roof decking, leading to rot and water damage.  This is a perfect example of what can happen if you don’t remove the felt paper underlayment when installing a new roof.

Felt paper underlayment helps to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof.

Ice dams are a common problem in cold climates and can cause extensive damage to your roof, as well as the inside of your home.

Luckily, we don’t have to deal with these issues here in Louisiana, but they are a real problem in other parts of the country.

Felt paper underlayment helps prevent ice dams from forming by creating a smooth surface on your roof.  This prevents the snow and ice from building up on your roof and causing damage.

Felt paper prevents wind-driven rain from seeping into your home.

Now wind-driven rain is one thing that we certainly know about here in Louisiana.  During this wind-driven snow or rain, water can get trapped under your shingles and create a leak in your roof.

But, with felt paper in place, water bounces right off and doesn’t have a chance to get underneath the shingles.

So, as you can see, there felt paper underlayment serves a few purposes.  Now, let’s discuss why you should remove it when replacing your roof.

What is the reason for removing the felt paper underlayment?

When installing a new roof, the code explicitly states,  “Remove all roofing materials down to the roof deck.” The felt paper underlayment is one of the roofing materials that must be removed.

Many people don’t realize the importance of the felt paper underlayment and often cut corners by trying to save time and money by not removing it.  But, this can lead to several problems down the road.  Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons why you should always remove the felt paper underlayment when installing a new roof.

There are a few key reasons why you should always remove the felt paper underlayment when installing a new roof.  Here are two of them:

You can see any damage to the roof decking.

You wouldn’t want to put brand new shingles on top of a rotten roof deck.

If the felt paper is left in place when you install your new roof, you won’t be able to see any damage that may be taking place on the roof deck.  And, if the damage is not caught and fixed early, it can lead to even more problems down the road.

Roofing felt is cheaper than a water leak.

It’s much cheaper to install roofing felt than it is to repair water damage caused by a leak in your roof.

If you’re paying for a new roof, why not just do it the right way and remove the felt paper underlayment?  By doing so, you can avoid costly water damage down the road.

The code says so.

The code explicitly states, “Remove all roofing materials down to the roof deck.” This means removing the felt paper underlayment when installing a new roof.

If you have a roofing contractor who is willing to disregard the code to save time and money, you should find someone else.

After all, if they’re willing to jeopardize your roof over a few dollars, what else are they willing to do?

It’s always best to go with a contractor who follows the code and does things the right way, even if it means taking a little longer.  It will save you time and money in the long run.

rotten roofing deck not removing tar paper underlay

What if you don’t remove the felt paper underlayment?

Unfortunately, some people don’t realize the importance of the felt paper underlayment and just “reuse” what is there when they install a new roof.

Here are some horror stories:

“I didn’t realize that I needed to remove the felt paper underlayment when I installed my new roof.  A few months later, I started noticing water spots on the ceiling.  It turns out that there was a leak on the side of the roof, and the water was seeping through the felt paper and into my house.” – Jason Edwards.

“I had a sketchy roof installer who said that he could install my new roof without removing the felt paper.  I should have known better, but I was just trying to save a few bucks.  A few weeks after he installed the roof, it started to rain, and all of my vent pipes started leaking.  I had to call him back out to fix it, and I ended up paying twice as much as I would have if I had just removed the felt paper in the first place.” – Carol Smith.

“After Hurricane Ida, I let some out-of-towners replace my roof.  They didn’t remove the felt paper underlayment and just put a new roof on top of it.  A few months later, my roof started leaking.  I had to call Better Built Contractors to fix the problem, and I ended up paying a lot more than if I had just removed the felt paper myself.

Don’t get me wrong, Gage and his team are the best contractors I’ve ever worked with, but it would have been a lot cheaper if the out-of-towners had just done it the right way.” – Justin Marchand

Why Better Built Contractors?

Better Built Contractors always follows the code and removes the felt paper underlayment when installing a new roof.

baton rouge roofers putting on new shingle roof

We are a family-owned and operated business, and we take pride in our work.  We have been serving the Gulf Coast for over 25 years, and we are dedicated to providing our customers with quality workmanship and exceptional customer service.

And that starts with something as simple as removing the felt paper underlayment.

If you’re in the market for a new roof, please give us a call.  We would be happy to discuss your options with you, and we will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Our Services:

Get Your Free Roof Inspection

Related Posts:

Roof InstallationMyth: When Installing A New Roof, You Don’t Have To Remove The Felt Paper Underlayment.