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Question DetailsAsked on 6/27/2016

One roofer swears by peel and stick underlayment and another swears that it has some serious flaws.

It makes common sense that once the peal and stick has been put down (directly to a wood surface) it become virtually impossible to remove when you have to reroof. Since, code requires any new felt to be nailed directly to wood it seems to me that it would be extremely difficulty to accommodate that code requirement? One source I read was that the peel and stick underlayment had to be installed over the top of a nailed down underlayment. This makes sense but I don't get the warm fuzzy's that the average roofer is going to do that if it is not a specific requirement by the codes in the area.

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Have to admit, that is new to me, that you have to apply the underlayment (roof water barrier) directly on wood. Certainly that is normally how it is done, but all I remembger from the code and from the NRCA Manual is that you need a water barrier between the sheathing and the final roofing material - I don't remember anything about it having to be directly on the sheathing. In fact, in overlaying metal roofing over existing shingles I have seen specific recommendations to put a water barrier OVER the old shingles.


Applying it over a nailed-down underlayment makes zero sense to me - invitation to wrinkling and bulging, plus if going to need a nailed underlayment under it then just use that and not the peel and stick one at all. I guess it might stick to the sheathing so it is a real pain to take up - personally I have worked on removing a few, and two took a torch to soften the adhesive so it would come up (and does make for tracking from shoes if they walk in house or on a deck or such), onbe an ice scraper to help slice it free where it had stuck exceptionally well, others you could just have a couple of guys grab and peel from a corner and zip it right off in full strips as big as you could handle - I remember having to slit one so it would not come off in one giant sheet. Probably depends on brand and on how dusty the sheathing was when it was applied, and certainly on how long it has been there and probably temperatures - both the high it has seen to make it adhere better, and the temperature during removal which might affect adhesive bond.


I guess I would have to delve into the manual and codes if I were about to do this, but I see no technical reason an underlayment could not go OVER an existing well-adhered and smooth (flat) underlayment - not a torn up or degraded one, but one in decent condition (except for the nail holes in it). But personally I have no problem with peel and stick - after all, ice and water shield is generally peel and stick and used by pretty much everyone.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD




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