The Tie Between Roof Decking and Leaks

As storm season terrorizes the plains yet again, some older homes might experience more than a bit of leaking. Though this stems from many factors, a prime culprit in older homes is shrunken decking–– also known as sheathing. Though decking may bring to mind beautiful back patios and sunshine, when it comes to roofing, this kind hides beneath the shingles of your home to serve as a base for nailing.

Plywood is often used for decking. Serving as an extra layer of protection, decking helps for waterproofing and essentially acts as the backbone of your roof. With shingles operating at higher rates, the sheathing protects structural parts of your house from debris such as hail during a heavy storm. Sheathing helps shingles perform better by giving them something to grip firmly onto. Unsurprisingly, this is something they lack when piled atop a previous year's shingles. 

The above method is known as a layover. A layover is a process that rarely meets county building code and is certainly not a recommended installation technique. Elliott Roofing will not perform a layover. Every reroof that we approach includes removing all existing roofing materials, including weatherproofing barriers such as felt or ice and water shields. We clean the roof down to the deck. This allows us to inspect the area in its entirety. We want to feel confident that we have a sound structure to attach our shingles to. If any portion of the decking is suspect, we will address the concerns with our customer and repair or replace accordingly.

Here’s another important fact to know: The International Residential Code (IRC) for sheeted roof deck was adopted throughout the state on July 15, 2015. Why does this matter? The adoption of this code helps ensure that homes are up to par by providing a strong layer of protection on which to build a sturdy roofing system.

Not all insurance companies will cover the cost involved in bettering your home’s decking. However, now is the time to check if this is included in your policy because if you have an older home, are experiencing problems, and are planning for a reroofing project – the decking will need to be addressed. It is advisable to be well prepared for the cost to bring the roof deck up to code. Knowing in advance if the responsibility of the decking upgrade falls on you, the homeowner, or the insurance company will have you prepared for what to expect.


In fact, if your home was contracted prior to 1970, there is a good possibility it will have 1x6, 1x8, 1x10, or 1x12 board delivery as plywood decking was not common in construction until the 80s. Usually, the board lumber was not kiln-dried before installation. This means that though the roof was originally nailed to solid boards, the drying of the wood over many years caused shrinkage from between 5-10 percent leaving gaps in your roof deck (see a recent example that we encountered). Although plywood was not available many decades ago – it still was not a commonly used decking material until recent years. We frequently come across homes built right up to the code adoption in 2015 with 1x8 decking; which no longer meets Oklahoma building requirements.

This may sound dull, but here’s the bottom line: the reduction in the size of these boards could cause gaps of greater than a half inch in the decking of your roof, leading to leakage.

All this is to say that if you’re concerned with the quality and integrity of your roof, call or contact us to schedule your free roofing consultation and estimate today. This way, the backbone of your house won’t buckle during storm season.