Roofing Terms

Roofing Terms

Roofing Terms

Roofing Terms – Why Homeowners Should Be Familiar with Them Before Hiring a Roofing Contractor

As a homeowner, your roof plays a crucial role in protecting your home and your family from the elements. Hiring a skilled roofing contractor is essential when it’s time for a roof repair or replacement. However, before signing a contract, it’s important to understand basic roofing terms. This knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions and ensure that you get the best value for your investment.

Here are several reasons why being familiar with roofing terms is vital before hiring a roofing contractor:

  1. Improved Communication with the Contractor

Understanding roofing terms allows you to have more productive conversations with potential contractors. This knowledge will help you discuss your needs, preferences, and expectations more clearly, making it easier for the contractor to deliver the results you want. It will also help you understand their recommendations, ensuring that their proposed roofing solutions align with your requirements.

  1. Making Informed Decisions

When you’re familiar with roofing terms, you can make better decisions about your project’s materials, methods, and costs. For instance, knowing the difference between asphalt shingles, metal roofing, and slate will help you choose the most suitable option for your home based on factors such as durability, maintenance, and energy efficiency. This understanding will also help you evaluate the pros and cons of different underlayment types, ventilation systems, and flashing materials.

  1. Evaluating Quotes and Contracts

Homeowners who understand roofing terms can more easily evaluate and compare quotes from different contractors. This knowledge lets you spot discrepancies in material costs, labor charges, and warranties, ensuring you’re getting a fair deal. Additionally, understanding the terminology used in contracts will help you identify any potential issues or hidden fees before signing.

  1. Identifying Quality Workmanship

Knowing basic roofing terms will also help you assess the quality of work done by your contractor. You’ll be able to recognize the proper installation of underlayment, flashing, and ventilation systems, ensuring that your roof is built to withstand harsh weather conditions and provide optimal energy efficiency. This understanding will also allow you to spot potential issues during the project, enabling you to address them with the contractor before they become major problems.

  1. Ensuring Proper Maintenance

A well-maintained roof can last for decades but requires regular inspections and timely repairs. By being familiar with roofing terms, you’ll be better equipped to identify potential problems during routine maintenance checks, such as damaged shingles, clogged gutters, or deteriorating flashing. This knowledge will help you address these issues.

Roofing Terms Glossary for Homeowner Empowerment 

1. Asphalt shinglesA popular roofing material made from fiberglass or organic materials, coated with asphalt and mineral granules.
2. Built-up roof (BUR)A roofing system composed of multiple layers of reinforcing materials, such as asphalt, felt, or ply sheets.
3. CricketA small, elevated structure built to divert water away from chimneys, walls, or other roof penetrations.
4. Drip edgeA metal flashing installed at the edge of a roof to direct water away from the fascia and protect the underlying materials.
5. EaveThe horizontal, lower edge of a sloped roof that extends beyond the building’s exterior walls.
6. FasciaA vertical, wooden or metal board that covers the ends of rafters and serves as a mounting point for gutters.
7. GableThe triangular portion of a wall that encloses the end of a pitched roof, from the eave to the ridge.
8. HipThe external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.
9. Ice and water shieldA self-adhesive waterproofing membrane installed on vulnerable roof areas to protect against ice dams and water infiltration.
10. JoistA horizontal structural member that supports a roof deck or ceiling.
11. Kick-out flashingA small piece of flashing used to direct water away from a wall or other vertical surface where a roof terminates.
12. Ladder jackA temporary support bracket used for scaffolding during roofing work.
13. MembraneA continuous, flexible material used to waterproof a roof surface.
14. NailerA horizontal board or strip that serves as a nailing surface for roof sheathing or decking.
15. Open valleyA method of valley construction in which the shingles on each side of the valley are trimmed, leaving a gap where water can flow.
16. PitchThe slope or steepness of a roof, expressed as a ratio of vertical rise to horizontal run.
17. QuoinDecorative masonry or woodwork at the corner of a building, often used to provide visual interest and support for roofing materials.
18. RafterA structural member that extends from the ridge of a roof to its eave, providing support for the roof deck.
19. SheathingThe structural panels or boards installed over rafters to provide a nailing surface for roofing materials.
20. TrussA prefabricated structural framework that supports a roof, typically composed of triangular components.
21. UnderlaymentA layer of material, typically felt or synthetic, installed between the roof deck and the roofing material to provide an additional layer of protection.
22. ValleyThe internal angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.
23. Vent pipeA pipe that allows the release of gases or moisture from inside a building to the exterior.
24. WaterproofingThe process of making a structure resistant to water infiltration, often through the use of membranes, sealants, or coatings.
25. XactimateA widely-used software program for estimating the cost of roofing and other construction projects.
26. Z-bar flashingA type of flashing that has a Z-shaped profile, used to create a watertight transition between roofing materials and vertical surfaces.
27. GutterA trough-like structure that collects and directs rainwater away
28. DownspoutA vertical pipe that carries rainwater from a gutter to the ground or a drainage system.
29. Ridge capA finishing material installed along the ridge of a roof to cover the joint between two sloping roof planes.
30. SoffitThe underside of a roof overhang, often vented to provide air circulation in the attic.
31. FlashingThin metal or other material used to seal and protect joints, seams, or other roof penetrations.
32. Roofing squareA unit of measurement for roof area, equal to 100 square feet (9.29 square meters).
33. Roof deckThe structural surface, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), to which roofing materials are applied.
34. GranulesSmall, mineral-coated particles used on the surface of asphalt shingles to protect against UV rays and weathering.
35. DormerA structural projection from a sloping roof that contains a window or vent, typically used to increase usable space or improve aesthetics.
36. Felt paperA heavy, asphalt-impregnated paper used as an underlayment in roofing applications.
37. Roof penetrationAny object that passes through the roof, such as a chimney, vent pipe, or skylight.
38. Ridge ventA continuous vent installed along the peak of a roof to allow for attic ventilation.
39. Roofing nailsSpecialized nails used to secure roofing materials, often featuring a large, flat head and a barbed or ring shank for improved holding power.
40. SlateA natural stone material used for roofing, known for its durability and long lifespan.
41. TarA viscous, waterproof substance derived from coal or petroleum, used in some roofing applications as a sealant or adhesive.
42. Elastomeric coatingA flexible, rubber-like coating applied to roofing surfaces to provide waterproofing and reflectivity.
43. SaddleA raised, watertight structure built around a roof penetration to divert water and prevent leaks.
44. Roofing cementA durable, adhesive compound used to seal and repair roofing materials.
45. Metal roofingA type of roofing material made from metal panels or shingles, valued for its durability, low maintenance, and energy efficiency.
46. TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin)A single-ply roofing membrane made from a blend of plastic and rubber materials, used for flat or low-slope roofs.
47. EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)A synthetic rubber roofing membrane commonly used for low-slope or flat roofs.
48. Roofing feltA heavy, water-resistant paper or synthetic fabric used as an underlayment beneath roofing materials.
49. Roofing seamA joint between two adjacent roofing materials, often sealed with adhesive or flashing.
50. Roof anchorA secure attachment point installed on a roof, used as a safety device for workers to tie off and prevent falls.

Additional Terms

AsphaltA sticky, black, semi-solid form of petroleum used as a waterproofing and binding agent in various roofing materials.
Built-Up Roof (BUR)A type of roofing system that consists of alternating layers of roofing felt and hot asphalt or coal tar pitch, usually topped with gravel.
DeckThe structural surface to which the roofing system is applied, typically made of plywood, OSB, or metal.
Drip EdgeA metal strip installed along the edge of a roof to help control water runoff and protect the underlying roofing components.
EaveThe lower edge of a roof that extends beyond the building’s exterior walls.
FasciaThe horizontal, outward-facing board that covers the ends of the roof’s rafters or trusses.
FlashingThin pieces of metal used to prevent water penetration by sealing joints and transitions in a roof system.
GableThe triangular section of a wall that encloses the end of a pitched roof.
GutterA channel installed along the eaves or roof edge to collect and divert rainwater away from the building.
HipThe external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.
Ice DamA buildup of ice at the lower edge of a sloped roof, which can cause water to back up and seep under roofing materials.
InsulationMaterial used to reduce heat transfer and improve energy efficiency in a building.
MembraneA thin, flexible sheet used as a waterproofing layer in a roofing system.
PitchThe slope or steepness of a roof, usually expressed as a ratio of the rise to the run.
RidgeThe horizontal line formed by the intersection of two sloping roof surfaces at the highest point of the roof.
ShinglesOverlapping pieces of material, such as asphalt, wood, or metal, used to cover a roof.
SoffitThe underside of a roof overhang or eave.
UnderlaymentA layer of material, typically felt or synthetic, installed between the roof deck and the outer roofing material.
ValleyThe internal angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.
Vapor RetarderA material designed to restrict the passage of water vapor through a roof system or wall.
VentAny device installed on the roof, gable, or soffit for the purpose of ventilating the underside of the roof deck.
VentilationThe process of supplying a continuous supply of air through the attic space to help remove heat and moisture.
WarrantyA statement made by the manufacturer of a product, typically covering defects in materials and/or workmanship for a specified period of time.
WaterproofingThe process of making a building resistant to the penetration of water.
Weather Stopper SystemA complete roofing system using compatible components from a single manufacturer that are designed and tested to work together to protect a building from water infiltration and other weather-related damage.
Weep HolesSmall openings in a retaining wall or other structure to allow water to escape and relieve pressure.
Wind ResistanceThe ability of a roofing material to withstand wind forces.
Zinc StripsNarrow strips of zinc used along the ridge and hips of a roof to inhibit the growth of algae and moss.
 Roofing Terms
Roofing Terms

List of Most Common Roofing Materials Per Region in the United States. 

Northeast1. Asphalt Shingles
2. Metal Roofing
3. Slate Roofing
4. Wood Shingles and Shakes
5. EPDM (Rubber) Roofing
Southeast1. Asphalt Shingles
2. Metal Roofing
3. Clay and Concrete Tile
4. Wood Shingles and Shakes
5. TPO and PVC Roofing
Midwest1. Asphalt Shingles
2. Metal Roofing
3. Wood Shingles and Shakes
4. Slate Roofing
5. Built-Up Roofing (BUR)
Southwest1. Asphalt Shingles
2. Metal Roofing
3. Clay and Concrete Tile
4. TPO and PVC Roofing
5. Built-Up Roofing (BUR)
West Coast1. Asphalt Shingles
2. Metal Roofing
3. Clay and Concrete Tile
4. Wood Shingles and Shakes
5. TPO and PVC Roofing

Please note that the popularity of specific roofing materials may vary within regions and localities. This list provides a general overview of common roofing materials in the United States by region.

 Roofing Q& A

  1. What are roofing terms?

Roofing terms are words or phrases used to describe various aspects of a roof, structure, and components. Understanding these terms can help property owners make informed decisions about their roofing needs.

  1. What are the parts of a roof called?

The main parts of a roof include the roof decking, underlayment, roof covering, eaves, valleys, ridges, vents, flashings, and gutters.

  1. What are the 3 main types of roofs?

The three main types of roofs are flat roofs, low-slope roofs, and steep-slope roofs. Each type serves a specific purpose, and the appropriate choice depends on factors like climate, building design, and aesthetics.

  1. What are the 4 most common types of roofs?

The four most common types of roofs are asphalt shingle roofs, metal roofs, clay and concrete tile roofs, and wood shake roofs.

  1. What are the 6 roof parts?

The six essential roof parts include the roof deck, underlayment, roof covering, flashings, gutters, and ventilation.

  1. What are the four main parts of a roof?

The four main parts of a roof are the roof decking, underlayment, roof covering, and roof structure (including trusses and rafters).

  1. What are the 10 distinct roof types?

The ten distinct roof types include gable, hip, mansard, gambrel, flat, shed, butterfly, bonnet, saltbox, and dome roofs.

  1. What is a sloped roof called?

A sloped roof is called a pitched roof. Pitched roofs have a noticeable slope and are designed to shed water and snow more effectively than flat roofs.

  1. What type of roof is strongest?

The strongest roof type is often considered to be the hip roof, as its design provides increased stability and resistance to wind compared to other roof types. However, the strength of a roof also depends on the quality of its materials and construction.

  1. What are the 8 components of a roof?

The eight components of a roof include the roof deck, underlayment, roof covering, flashings, ventilation, insulation, eaves, and gutters.

  1. What are roof fixtures called?

Roof fixtures are called roof penetrations, which include items like vents, pipes, chimneys, and skylights that protrude through the roof surface.

  1. What are the top things on a roof called?

The top features on a roof are called ridge caps or ridge tiles. These elements cover the ridge of a roof, where two roof planes meet, to prevent water and debris from entering the roof structure.

By understanding these roofing concepts, property owners can make informed decisions when selecting a roofing system, performing maintenance, or choosing a contractor.

In conclusion, understanding roofing terms is valuable for homeowners seeking to hire a roofing contractor. This knowledge will improve communication, enable informed decision-making, help evaluate quotes and contracts, identify quality workmanship, and ensure proper maintenance. Before embarking on your next roofing project, take the time to familiarize yourself with basic roofing terms and concepts. This investment in your knowledge will pay dividends in the long run, ensuring that your home is protected by a high-quality, durable, and efficient roofing system.