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Is Your Roof Decking Up To Code?

Posted on March 20, 2023

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Is Your Roof Decking Up To Code?

As a homeowner, you are likely to spend weeks deciding on the right roofing material for your home, after all, it is the topmost portion of your roof. But have you ever thought about what’s underneath your roofing material? The answer is roof decking, the unsung hero of your roofing system. While it may not be the most sought-after part of your roof, it plays a critical role in keeping your roof strong, stable, and secure.

In this blog post, we will delve into roof decking and address a critical question: Does your roof decking meet the required building codes, and if not, what steps do you need to take?

What Is Roof Decking And Why It Is Important For Your Roof?

Roof decking is a layer of material that is installed on top of the structural support system of a roof, known as the rafters or trusses. Its purpose is to provide a stable and flat surface for the roof covering to be installed on and help distribute the weight of the roof covering and any loads applied to it, such as snow, wind, or people.

There are several types of materials that can be used for roof decking, including plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), metal, and concrete. Plywood and OSB are the most common types of decking used in residential construction, while metal and concrete are typically used for commercial or industrial buildings.

What Is The Problem With Your Old Roof Deck? 

As we have seen in the section above, when you decide to install roof decking on a residential home, you’ll be faced with two options: Plywood and OSB. However, if your home is older, this might not be the case. In the past, roofs were typically constructed using solid wood boards, laid horizontally across the rafters, providing a stable surface for the roof covering to be installed on. This method of roofing was common in the 1960s and earlier, but these traditional roof decks are no longer up to code as per the International Residential Code. 

As building codes and construction practices evolved with time, solid wood roof decking began to be replaced by other materials, such as plywood and OSB, as these are more stable and can provide you with a better surface to install shingles on.

roof decking
Old Roof Decking

What You Need To Know About The International Residential Code

The International Residential Code (IRC) is a set of building codes and standards that govern the construction of residential buildings in the United States. The IRC is developed and published by the International Code Council (ICC), a non-profit organization that promotes building safety and sustainability through the development of model codes and standards.

The purpose is to ensure that properties are built in a safe way and meet the necessary standards of quality. It covers several aspects such as buildings, energy conservation, and plumbing. The organization revisits the code every three years to update it, and the code currently adopted in the state of Oklahoma is the 2018 IRC code. 

What Does The Code Say About Roof Decking?

The IRC creates standards or codes for almost every part of a building, including roof decking, which has several codes that must be met.  

The code requires you to install asphalt shingles on a solid roof sheathing (roof deck), and therefore, you need to ensure that the roof deck is not rotted through or damaged before installing the shingles. 

The space between the planks is also specified. If the gap between plank decking exceeds 1/8″, it is now a requirement to replace the roof decking according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions before installing the roofing material. So, if at the time of installation, your roofing contractor discovers more space than the specified amount after removing your old roof, then you’ll need to replace the deck on the roof before moving forward with shingle installation. 

It’s important to note that local building codes may have additional, or more stringent requirements, for roof decking. It is important to consult with a qualified contractor or building official to ensure that your roof decking meets all applicable codes and standards.

Benefits Of Strong Decking On A Roof

A roof deck acts as a foundation for installing the roofing material. It is important to have proper roof decking because it plays a crucial role in the stability, safety, and longevity of a building. Here are a few reasons why:

Structural Stability 

Properly installed roof decking provides a stable and level surface for the roof covering to be installed on. This helps to evenly distribute the roofing materials’ weight, reducing the risk of structural damage or collapse.

Protection From The Elements

Strong roof decking materials such as OSB boards, when installed correctly, can help protect the building from weather elements, including wind, rain, snow, and hail. This can help prevent leaks and other types of water damage, keeping your home safe. 

Energy Efficient

Adequate roof decking can help improve the energy efficiency of a building by providing a stable barrier between the insulation installed below it, and the roofing material installed above. This helps reduce heating and cooling costs and improves indoor comfort.


The quality of the roof deck plays a crucial role in the ultimate quality of your finished roof. A damaged roof deck can cause structural problems for your home. On the other hand, decking on a roof that is up to code and installed correctly can help prolong the lifespan of the roofing material. This will help save money on repairs and replacement over time.

What Happens If You Install A Roof Deck That’s Not Up To Code?

Most homeowners fall into the trap of getting swept up with roofing material costs during a replacement and therefore do not decide to change their roof deck even if it doesn’t meet the recent codes set by the IRC. However, if you are just starting out with your roof installation or replacement project, then it is advisable to check that all the requirements are met. With this, you can avoid several potential dangers, such as the following: 

Your Roof Will Be More Susceptible To Leaks

If you decide not to replace old plank decking on your roof, then your roof and home interior may be more susceptible to damage and leaks. When a contractor nails your new roofing shingles into a plank roof deck with gaps larger than ⅛”, the nails will go right through the gaps. This will allow water to pass through the space easily. A leaking roof comes with several other problems as well, and these problems can be expensive to repair and also pose a health hazard if mold or mildew develops.

You Can Face Damage 

If you install a roof deck that is not up to code and it leads to damage or injury, you may be liable for any resulting costs or legal action. This is because building codes are designed to ensure a building’s safety and integrity and protect the occupants within.

In summary, installing a roof deck that is not up to code can have serious consequences for the safety, durability, and efficiency of a building. 

Why Is Choosing A Trusted Roofing Professional Necessary? 

Choosing a trusted roofing professional is crucial when it comes to ensuring that your roof decking meets all the necessary code requirements. Unfortunately, there are many contractors out there who cut corners or take shortcuts when it comes to roof decking in order to offer a lower price or save time and effort. 

By working with a trusted roofing professional, you can ensure that your roof decking is installed per your local building code and meets all necessary standards for strength, stability, and fire resistance. 

A reputable contractor will take the time to properly inspect and prepare your roof decking, use high-quality materials, and follow best practices to ensure that your roof is strong, secure, and long-lasting.

Trust Our Team To Install Your Roof Decking 

A roofing system is quite complex, and several factors will decide how your roof performs. To ensure that your new roof is in optimal condition, hiring a professional roofing contractor such as the team from A. Fricker Roofing & Waterproofing, is the way to go.  

We’ve been offering the best roofing services in Tulsa and surrounding areas. With over 50 years of combined experience in the industry, our roofers can give you the roof you want. We install different types of roofing material, such as asphalt shingles, wood shakes, and slate, and all of our roof installation and replacement services are up to the necessary code. Contact us today at (918) 402-7167 and book a free roof inspection with our expert roofers so that we can help figure out what’s best for your home.