What Are Roof Ridges?


What Are Roof Ridges, Really?

The roof of every building, large or small, serves a variety of essential functions. It protects against the weather, provides insulation, and lends the building a unique aesthetic. Roof ridges play an integral role in all of those functions.

A roof ridge is the part of a pitched roof where two planes meet. It is found at the peak of the roof, its highest point, and runs the length of the intersection. In typical gable roofs, it’s also where the rafters meet.

Anatomy of a Roof Ridge

The ridge of a standard, two-pitched roof is typically attached to a ridge board. It is always covered in lead, specialized ridge tiles, or another device designed to function as a ridge cap. Ridge tile is considered a finishing element. Roofers secure these tiles or an alternative in place using mortar to ensure that they are invulnerable to the elements.

There are two different types of ridges. Ridge boards provide a structural connection for the roof’s rafters and form a rigid spine for its peak. They add lateral stability and contribute to the overall structural strength of the ceiling frame, which includes the roof ridge, rafters, and joist. In most cases, ridge boards are made of 1×8 or 2×8 lumber.

When there are no joists at the bottom of the roof to form a triangle assembly, architects install ridge beams instead of ridge boards. These beams support the full load of the rafters and are typically used for vaulted-type ceilings. Traditional roofing methods like timber framing also make extensive use of large, structural ridge beams.

Functional Alternatives to Roof Boards and Beams

These days, not all roofs technically have boards or beams. Many modern homes feature roof frames composed of prefabricated trusses. These trusses are built in factories as complete units and then shipped to the site for installation fully fabricated. They are tied together using purlins instead of a ridge board. Because each roof truss is installed as a completed frame, there’s no need for the roof board. Instead, the purlins and decking provide lateral support. Despite this difference, truss roofs look the same as their traditional, stick-framed counterparts once they are fully constructed.

Roof Ridges in Hip Roofs

Most of the time, when people talk about roof ridges, they’re referring to one long, straight line that forms the high point of two roof planes. However, this definition only applies to gable roofs. Hip roofs feature four planes, which complicates matters somewhat. In addition to the horizontal ridge, hip roofs have sloping ridges where the adjacent planes meet. In this case, the ridge is composed of a rafter rather than a ridge board. It serves the same purpose but is set at an angle to accommodate the different arrangements of the planes.

Common Problems With Roof Ridges

Most calls for roof repair Houston contractors take regarding roof ridges pertain to ridge caps and tiles. Because they are located at the highest point of the roof, these components tend to take the majority of the wear and tear. Inclement weather, hot sun, and falling tree limbs can all distort roof tiles and caps, allowing moisture to start seeping in.

In some cases, roofs that are almost brand-new start to show signs of ridge wear. When that happens it’s almost always a result of poor installation practices. Improper roof cap installation can cause significant water damage, which is part of why it’s so important to find a local roofer who has plenty of experience. Inexperienced roofers often:

  • Leave seams exposed
  • Cut corners by installing caps on dormers but not less visible areas
  • Mix different styles or brands of shingles
  • Use imprecise nailing techniques that can cause the shingles to loosen or lift up

When the roof ridge is not adequately protected, the only solution is to repair the water damage and install a new ridge cap. Failing to take action as soon as signs of damage occur can leave homeowners looking at premature roof replacements, so ignoring the problem is not an option.

The Importance of Quality Roof Ridge Materials and Installations

When planning a roof replacement Houston homeowners should pay attention to what kinds of materials their contractors are proposing for the roof ridge. Ridge tile is an excellent option, but only if it’s installed correctly by an experienced contractor. Prefabricated ridge caps are also a good choice.

Ridge caps or tiles aren’t the only components that need to be made from high-quality, durable materials. Ridge vents can also become pain points if they’re not made of appropriate materials and installed correctly. Because the purpose of these ridge vents is to allow accumulated moisture in the air to escape, faulty ridge vents can leave critical roofing components to rot from the inside.

How to Tell It’s Time to Call a Roofer

If there is water leaking into the home from the top of the roof, the chances are very good that either the ridge cap or the vents are improperly installed. Homeowners don’t need to be able to identify the exact cause of the leak, though. Once they’ve noticed any kind of water damage, it’s time to call in the professionals. Additional signs of trouble can include visible damage to the roof tiles, missing tiles, cracked caps or vents, mold or mildew growth, and rodent or other nuisance animals gaining entry to the attic.

Don’t Wait to Call for Help

It’s never wise to put off roof repairs. Leaky roofs never get better on their own, so homeowners should call a reputable Houston roofing company as soon as they notice any signs of trouble. Precision Roof Crafters has been helping Houston area homeowners keep their roofs in good condition for 26 years, and in that time, they’ve seen it all. 

Whether it’s the roof ridge or another essential structural component that’s in need of some TLC, Precision Roof Crafters can help. Call (713) 799-8555 to discuss options or request service. This full-service roofing company also offers 24/7 emergency services, so don’t be afraid to reach out. There will always be someone available to help.


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