Roofing underlayment acts as an additional barrier between your roof and external elements. It’s a crucial component in any roofing system that helps prevent water intrusion and other weather-related damages. The two most common types are synthetic and felt underlayment, each with its unique properties, advantages, and disadvantages.

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Synthetic underlayment is a high-tech, engineered material made from polypropylene or polyethylene. It’s a relatively new player in the roofing industry but has gained popularity due to its superior features. Here are some traits that distinguish synthetic from felt underlayment:

  • Durability: Synthetic underlayment is often stronger and lasts longer than its felt counterpart. Its resistance to water, mold, and UV-rays makes it highly durable.
  • Weight: Despite their durability, synthetic materials are typically lighter than felt underlayments. This lighter weight can make the installation process easier.
  • Slip-resistant: Many synthetic underlayments have a special top surface designed to provide better foot traction for workers during installation.

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Felt underlayment is the traditional option which is made from either organic or fiberglass substrate saturated with asphalt. It’s been used in roofing systems for several decades now. Here’s what you need to know about felt underlayment:

  • Affordability: Compared to synthetic materials, felt tends to be more affordable upfront—a primary reason many homeowners choose this option.
  • Heat resistance: Felt has excellent heat resistance properties which help protect the roof against heat damage.
  • Ease of installation: It lays flatter than synthetic options hence less likely to cause wrinkles or bubbles that could affect the shingles placed over it.

The table below summarizes these differences:

Characteristic Synthetic Underlayment Felt Underlayment
Durability High Medium
Weight Light Heavy
Slip Resistance High Medium
Roofing Contractor Near Me: Understanding the Cost Higher Lower
Heat Resistance Medium High
Installation Easier More Challenging

Choosing between synthetic and felt roofing underlayments depends on your specific needs, budget, climate conditions among other factors. Understanding these differences can guide you towards making an informed decision for your roofing project.


When it comes to roofing underlayment, the materials used can have a significant impact on the durability and efficiency of your roof. The two most common types of roofing underlayment materials are synthetic and felt. Let’s delve into comprehensive details about these two popular options.

Synthetic Underlayment

Synthetic underlayment, as the name suggests, is manufactured from polypropylene or polyethylene fabrics. This type of underlayment has gained popularity in recent years due to several advantageous features:

  • Durability: Synthetic underlayment is known for its high durability. It is resistant to fungal growth, UV radiation, and various weather conditions.
  • Weight: Compared to felt, synthetic underlayment tends to be lighter, making it easier to handle and install.
  • Water Resistance: Synthetic materials have excellent water resistance capabilities. They do not absorb water or moisture which helps in preventing roof leaks.
  • Lifespan: Typically, synthetic underlayments outlast their counterparts made of felt.

Felt Underlayment

Felt underlayment is a traditional choice for many homeowners. It’s made from either natural wood cellulose fiber or recycled fibers mixed with bitumen.

  • Cost-effective: Felt underlayments tend to be more economical compared to synthetics.
  • Ease of Installation: Many professionals are familiar with installing felt underlayments, making installation relatively straightforward in most cases.
  • Fire-resistant: Certain types of felt underlayments are treated with fire-resistant chemicals.

Comparison Table: Synthetic vs Felt Underlayment

Feature Synthetic Underlayment Felt Underlayment
Durability High Moderate
Weight Lighter Heavier
Water Resistance High Moderate
Lifespan Longer Shorter
Cost Higher Lower

Factors to Consider

Choosing between synthetic and felt underlayment depends on several factors:

  • Climate: For damp or severe weather conditions, synthetic underlayment may be the ideal choice due to its excellent water resistance. On the other hand, in mild climates, felt underlayment could suffice.
  • Budget: If budget is a significant factor, felt underlayment is typically more cost-effective.
  • Roofing Contractors in Sauk Rapids, MN: For roofs with steeper slopes, synthetic underlayment’s improved traction and slip resistance can be beneficial for safety during installation.

Ultimately, it’s essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both synthetic and felt underlayments before making a decision. Consulting with a professional roofer can also provide valuable insights tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.


When choosing a roofing underlayment material, several crucial factors need to be considered. Each of these aspects can significantly influence the long-term performance and durability of your roof, so it is essential to understand them before making a decision.

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The local climate and weather patterns in your area should play a significant role in your underlayment selection. Locations prone to heavy rain or snowfall may require more robust waterproofing capabilities found in synthetic underlayments. For hot climates, an underlayment that can withstand high temperatures without breaking down will be the better choice.

Roof Slope

The slope of your roof is another important consideration. Steeply sloped roofs are less likely to accumulate water, which may reduce the need for ultra-waterproof underlayment materials. On the other hand, flatter roofs, where water can easily pool, would benefit from synthetic underlayments known for their superior water-resistance.

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Different underlayment materials come with varying installation processes and requirements. Some materials might require specialized equipment or skills for proper installation, which could increase labor costs.

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Consider how long you intend for the roof to last and how durable you need it to be against potential hazards like wind or hail damage. Synthetic materials typically have longer lifespans and higher durability compared with felt options but may also come with higher upfront costs.


Speaking of expenses, cost is an inevitable factor influencing choice of roofing underlayment material. It is necessary to balance the initial cost of purchase and installation against long-term maintenance costs associated with each type of material.

Here’s a comparative table summarizing some key differences:

Factor Synthetic Underlayment Felt Underlayment
Climate Resistance Excellent Good
Suitable Roof Slope All Steeper Roofs
Installation Complexity Moderate Low
Durability & Longevity High Moderate
Cost Higher Initial Cost Lower Initial Cost

In summary, while both synthetic and felt roofing have their pros and cons, understanding these factors will help you make an informed decision that suits your specific needs best. Remember that no one-size-fits-all solution exists when it comes to roofing underlayments — each situation demands careful evaluation considering various critical factors outlined here. Therefore, discussing these aspects with a qualified roofing contractor can provide valuable insights tailored specifically to your home conditions and requirements before finalizing your choice.

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When choosing a roofing material, there are many factors to consider. These include the climate of your location, budget, aesthetic preferences and the architectural style of your home. This guide will walk you through how to evaluate these factors to select the best roofing option for your needs.

Climate Suitability

Different roofing materials perform better in different climates. For instance, metal roofs are ideal for areas with high winds or heavy snowfall due to their superior ability to shed snow and withstand strong winds. On the other hand, clay tiles are ideal for hotter climates as they provide excellent insulation against heat.

Here’s a general guideline:

  • Metal Roofs: Ideal for areas with strong winds or heavy snowfall
  • Clay Tiles: Suitable for hotter climates
  • Asphalt Shingles: Versatile and can work well in most climates

Budget Constraints

Budget is an essential factor when choosing a roofing material. Asphalt shingles are generally cheaper than metal or tile roofs but may not last as long. It’s also important to consider maintenance costs. For example, wood shingles may require more frequent maintenance compared to other materials.

Below is a cost comparison based on average cost per square foot:

Material Cost Per Square Foot
Asphalt Shingles $1 – $2
Metal Roof $3 – $5
Wood Shake $3 – $6
Clay Tiles $6 – $15

Aesthetic Preferences

Aesthetics play a crucial role in how you perceive your home. Therefore, it’s important that the color and style of the roofing materials align with your taste and complements your home’s architecture.

For instance:

  • Traditional homes often look great with slate or wood shakes.
  • Contemporary houses might benefit from the sleek look of metal roofs.
  • Mediterranean-style homes typically use clay tiles.


It’s essential to consider durability when selecting a roof material particularly in regions where severe weather conditions are common. Metal and slate have high durability while asphalt shingles rank lower on durability scale but still provide decent performance.

Installation Complexity

The complexity involved in installing different types of roofs vary significantly which will reflect on installation costs. For example, installing slate roofs is complex requiring skilled labor which increases overall cost.

By evaluating all these factors thoroughly, you can pick an appropriate roof tailored according to specific requirements of your home’s design, location climate and your budget constraints ensuring it stands up well over time protecting against elements while enhancing overall visual appeal of your property.


In this article, we have delved into different aspects of roofing underlayment, majorly focusing on synthetic and felt materials. Both materials have their strengths and vulnerabilities, which makes the choice primarily dependent upon specific needs, environmental conditions, as well as economic constraints.

Comparing the Characteristics

When we compare the two materials based on their properties, some key differences become evident:

  • Durability: Synthetic underlayment is usually more durable than traditional felt. It is less susceptible to tearing during installation or due to extreme weather conditions.
  • Water Resistance: Synthetic materials offer superior water resistance compared to felt. This makes them a better choice for regions with high rainfall or snowfall.
  • Weight: Synthetic underlayments are lighter than felt, making them easier to install and reducing the structural load on the roof.

Pricing Considerations

The cost factor also plays a significant role in decision making. While synthetic underlayment tends to be more expensive upfront than felt, it’s worth considering that its longevity and durability could make it more cost-effective in the long run.

Environmentally Friendly

When it comes to environmental considerations, both synthetic and felt underlayment have their pros and cons. Felt is a natural product that degrades over time without causing harm to the environment, while synthetic underlayments are usually made from recycled polymers which reduces waste but does not biodegrade easily.

Final Remarks

While some may prefer traditional felt due to its low cost and organic nature, others might lean towards synthetic underlayments for their durability, ease of installation, and superior water resistance. Ultimately, making a choice between synthetic and felt roofing underlayment requires thoughtful consideration of various factors including budget constraints, geographical location (weather patterns), environmental impact concerns along with personal preference.

Remember that the primary role of these underlayments is to provide an extra layer of protection for your roof. Therefore, the choice of underlayment should not only be based on cost but also on how well it will perform in protecting your home from water damage. It’s always advisable to consult with a professional roofer who can provide insights and recommendations tailored to your specific situation.