Glossary of Common Roofing Terms

Whenever you call up your local roofing company, you’ll most likely get a long list of what parts of your roof they’ll repair or maintain. These roofing terms can be difficult to remember for us professionals, let alone for homeowners who, more often than not, only see the outside part of their roof.

That being said, there’s a lot of common roofing terminology that you’ll hear whenever you’ve got a roofing contractor around. These are special terms that we use to identify certain roof parts or note any important aspects of your roof.

So, today, we’ll take a look at some of the most common terms you might hear when you install a new roof or during its annual maintenance.

Roofing Terms

The Most Common Roofing Terminology

Getting straight into it, we’ll start off with some of the more general terminology, and then we’ll look at some terms that focus on specific parts of your roof.

General Roofing Terms

These terms are the ones you’ll hear us say during a roof installation:

  • Ice and Water Shield: This is a membrane that’s laid on certain parts of your decking to prevent moisture from reaching it. You’ll usually find it under valleys and penetrations.
  • Prorated (and non-prorated): These are the two types of the manufacturer’s warranty. Prorated materials lose value each year, while non-prorated ones’ value remains the same.
  • Roofing Square: This is the measurement we use when installing a roof, and it’s equal to 100 sq ft.
  • Roof Pitch: The pitch of your roof dictates how steep it is.
  • Fascia and Soffit: The fascia is a set of decorative boards that run along the edge of your roof, while the soffit is a board that’s placed underneath the fascia.
  • Gutters and Downspouts: An essential part of any roof, gutters are used to channel water from your roof toward the ground. The downspout is a long pipe that directs the water from the gutters to a place away from your house.
  • Valleys and Hips: When two parts of a sloped roof meet, they create an angle called a valley (when it’s an interior angle) or a hip (when it’s an exterior angle).
  • Rakes and Eaves: Both of these refer to the edge of your roof. Rakes are created when the edge is sloped, while eaves refer to a horizontal edge.
  • Vents: These are outlets that allow air and moisture to escape from the house. They can be active or passive and placed on many parts of your roof.
  • Drip Edge: The drip edge is placed alongside the rakes and eaves and nailed on the decking. It prevents water from seeping through.
  • Starter Shingles: This is the first row of shingles placed over the drip edge to further enhance your roof’s waterproofing.

Parts Of a Roof

These roofing terms are all about the main parts of your roof:

  • Decking/Sheathing: This is the foundation of your roof that’s made from some form of wood, whether it’s sheets or planks.
  • Underlayment: The underlayment is layers of materials (synthetic or felt) that are laid on the decking for additional waterproofing.
  • Flashing: These are thin pieces of metal that are placed all over your roof in penetrations, like the chimney. They are used to prevent water from seeping through.
  • Truss: The truss of your roof is the most essential part. It supports the entire roof and acts as the foundation for the foundation (decking).
  • Shingles: Shingles are still widely used all over SoCal. They are the first thing you’ll notice when you look at a roof from the outside.
  • Gables: Gables are small sections of your roof where two parts of it meet and create a new, triangular-shaped roof. They’re a very common spot for vents, whether they’re inlet or outlet.

Learn More About Roofing, the Wise Way

Knowing some basic roof terminology might not be essential. But, once you learn some of these, you’ll be able to better explain your roofing problem to the contractor, making the whole process much easier for both parties. If you’re facing an issue with your roofing and are based in SoCal, look no further than us! At Roofing Wise, we strive to educate our customers on the basics of roofing. Whether your vents are malfunctioning or your roof is leaking, call us at (833) 315-7663 for a free estimate!

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