Dictionaries are not very sexy. They seldom attract much attention, until you need to know how to spell tough words like conscientious. A short dictionary, a glossary, is specific to a particular subject: Ancient Greek, roofing, or cooking terms, for example. A roofing glossary can be downright handy when fielding bids from prospective roofers. Knowledge of the following 22 roofing terms may not put you on a par with your roofer, but at least you will understand what your roofer is talking about.

Residential Roofing Terminology

  1. Asphalt — Bituminous pitch (sticky, black liquid) refined from petroleum is the major, water-resistant part of a fiberglass-asphalt shingle
  2. Deck/sheathing — Oriented strand board (OSB) or plywood used to support the underlayment and roof material
  3. Drip edge — A peripheral metal strip, beneath shingles but on top of underlayment, it directs rainwater away from your fascia, siding, and roof edge
  4. Eave and Fascia — Your roof’s eaves are the underside of the front and back edges of your roof, usually equipped with soffit vents; fascia boards are the vertical trim, usually behind gutters but visible on gables
  5. Edging strips — Another name for drip edge, edging strips can sometimes be substantial, as much as 3″ wide, so they can make a strong visual statement
  6. Felt/underlayment — The water-resistant layer beneath the final roofing material but atop the sheathing; it is often organic felt but today is also frequently a synthetic material
  7. Fire Rating — All roofing materials must have a fire rating; the closer to A, the better the fire rating, with many fiberglass-asphalt shingles and almost all metal panels earning Class A fire ratings
  8. Flashing — Thin metal used to bridge gaps and joints between unlike materials, like chimney brick and asphalt shingles
  9. Granules — The gritty, sandy pits of colored stone embedded in roof shingles are called granules; they help shed water, preserve the asphalt, and keep your roof’s color looking consistently beautiful for decades
  10. Hip — A hip roof has sloped roof sections on all four sides, with no gables; the hip itself is the angled ridge rising from eaves to your roof’s dominant ridge
  11. Louvers — Horizontal slats, as in gable vents or on cupolas, provide air flow into attics while keeping out pests and rain
  12. Penetrations — Anything on your roof which goes through your roof is a penetration: sanitary stacks, satellite wiring, telephone cables, bathroom vents, and kitchen fans are all penetrations

Take a Break!

VanWeelden Company knows a good roof is more than just a collection of parts with weird names like soffits and granules. We also know a good relationship between the roofer and residential homeowner depends on more than just words.

Our customers do not have to be instant experts on roofing. We can provide all the education you want about your roof, from asphalt to warranties. If you do not wish to go back to school to learn all about your roof, we can demonstrate your trust is well placed by providing you with impeccable roofing services. 

R You Ready? 

  1. Rafters — The angled wooden support structures which create the pitch of your roof, rafters are the tops of trusses
  2. Rake — The sloped ends of a gable are the rake; they usually dangle off the roof, past the siding, to create a kind of umbrella effect with their overhang
  3. Ridge — The top horizontal line of a roof, where two roof sections meet
  4. Slope/Pitch — This is the rise over run, in inches, of your roof; a low-slope roof, under 4-in-12, is easiest to work on but often becomes burdened with snow and ice; a steep-slope roof (from 4-in-12 to 9-in-12) is harder to repair and reroof but sheds water, snow and ice more easily
  5. Square — Shingles are sold by their coverage, and a square of shingles covers 100 square feet; this is usually three bundles
  6. Tear-Off — Removal of your old roof for recycling or carting is called a tear-off (tear as in rip, not as in cry)
  7. Truss — These prefabricated roof supports simultaneously provides ceiling joists below and rafters above; a truss is precision-engineered to handle your roof’s load while keeping your walls vertical
  8. Valley — The low area where two roof sections meet, a valley must be roofed expertly to avoid water infiltration since it is a natural river to your gutters
  9. Vapor retarder — A sheet barrier which prohibits water infiltration into your attic by preventing water vapor from collecting
  10. Vents — Whether in gable ends, along ridges, or by using electrically operated units in the middle of your roof field, vents keep air moving through your attic, reducing humidity and ensuring proper ventilation

Please consider VanWeelden Company for your next residential roofing project. Contact us today. No dictionary required! (Soffits? Oh, you noticed we talked about soffits but did not define them, eh? Soffits are ceiling pieces for eaves, to provide a finished look. Now you know 23 terms!)