roofing terms illustration

Learn the terms used in the roofing industry

  • Asphalt shingle:  A bituminous waterproofing agent applied to roofing materials during manufacturing.
  • Built-up roof:  A flat or low-sloped roof consisting of multiple layers of asphalt and ply sheets.
  • Caulk: To fill a joint with mastic or asphalt cement to prevent leaks.
  • Coating:  A layer of viscous asphalt applied to the base material into which granules or other surfacing is embedded.
  • Course:  A row of shingles or roll roofing running the length of the roof.
  • Cutout:  The open portions of a strip shingle between the tabs.
  • Deck:  The surface installed over the supporting framing members to which the roofing is applied.
  • Dormer:  A framed window unit projecting through the sloping plane of a roof.
  • Downspout: A pipe for draining water from roof gutters. Also called a leader.
  • Drip edge:  A non-corrosive, non-staining material used along the eaves and rakes to allow water run-off to drip clear of underlying construction.
  • Eaves:  The horizontal, lower edge of a sloped roof.
  • Edging strips:  Boards nailed along eaves and rakes after cutting back existing wood shingles to provide secure edges for reroofing with asphalt shingles.
  • Felt:  Fibrous material saturated with asphalt and used as an underlayment or sheathing paper.
  • Flashing: Pieces of galvanized metal (usually aluminum or copper) used to prevent seepage of water into a building around any intersection or projection in a roof such as vent pipes, chimneys, adjoining walls, dormers and valleys.
  • Free-tab shingles: Shingles that do not contain factory-applied strips or spots of self-sealing adhesive.
  • Gable:  The upper portion of a sidewall that comes to a triangular point at the ridge of a sloping roof.
  • Gable roof: A type of roof containing sloping planes of the same pitch on each side of the ridge, with a gable at each end.
  • Gambrel roof:  A type of roof containing two sloping planes of different pitch on each side of the ridge. The lower plane has a steeper slope than the upper. Contains a gable at each end.
  • Granules:  Ceramic-coated colored crushed rock that is applied to the exposed surface of asphalt roofing products.
  • Gutter:  The trough that channels water from the eaves to the downspouts.
  • Hip roof: A type of roof containing sloping planes of the same pitch on each of four sides.
  • Hip shingles: Shingles used to cover the inclined external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.
  • Ice dam:  Condition formed at the lower roof edge by the thawing and re-freezing of melted snow on the overhang. This can force water up and under shingles, causing leaks.
  • Interlocking shingles: Individual shingles that mechanically fasten to each other to provide wind resistance.
  • Laminated shingles:  Strip shingles containing more than one layer of tabs to create extra thickness. Also called three-dimensional shingles or architectural shingles.
  • Lap: To cover the surface of one shingles or roll with another.
  • Lap cement:  An asphalt-based cement used to adhere overlapping plies of roll roofing.
  • Mansard roof:  A type of roof containing two sloping planes of different pitch on each of four sides. The lower plane has a much steeper pitch than the upper, often approaching vertical. Contains no gables.
  • Mineral-surfaced roofing:  Asphalt shingles and roll roofing that are covered with granules.
  • No-cutout shingles:  Shingles consisting of a single, solid tab with no cutouts.
  • Overhang:  That portion of the roof structure that extends beyond the exterior walls of a building.
  • Pitch:  The degree of roof incline expressed as the ratio of the rise, in feet, to the span, in feet.
  • Ply: The number of layers of roofing: i.e. one-ply, two-ply.
  • Rafter:  The supporting framing member immediately beneath the deck, sloping from the ridge to the wall plate.
  • Rake:  The inclined edge of a sloped roof over a wall.
  • Ridge:  The uppermost, horizontal external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.
  • Ridge cap: Specially formed shingles used to cover the horizontal external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.
  • Rise:  The vertical distance from the eaves line to the ridge.
  • Roll roofing:  Asphalt roofing products manufactured in roll form.
  • Run:  The horizontal distance from the eaves to a point directly under the ridge. One half the span.
  • Self-sealing shingles:  Shingles containing factory-applied strips or spots of self-sealing adhesive.
  • Self-sealing strip or spot:  Factory-applied adhesive that bonds shingle courses together when exposed to the heat of the sun after application.
  • Shading:  Slight differences in shingle color that may occur as a result of normal manufacturing operations.
  • Sheathing: Exterior grade boards used as a roof deck material.
  • Shed roof:  A roof containing only one sloping plane. Has no hips, ridges, valleys or gables.
  • Slope: The degree of roof incline expressed as the ratio of the rise, in inches, to the run, in feet.
  • Soffit: The finished underside of the eaves.
  • Stack: A vent pipe that penetrates the roof.
  • Span: The horizontal distance from eaves to eaves.
  • Square:  A unit of roof measure covering 100 square feet. A roof with a field area of 2,500 square feet would be called a 25 square roof.
  • Starter strip:  Asphalt roofing applied at the eaves that provide protection by filling in the spaces under the cutouts and joints of the first course of shingles.
  • Tab:  The exposed portion of strip shingles defined by cutouts.
  • Underlayment:  Asphalt saturated felt used beneath roofing to provide additional protection for the deck.
  • Valley:  The internal angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.
  • Vent:  Any outlet for air that protrudes through the roof deck such as a pipe or stack. Any device installed on the roof, gable or soffit for the purpose of ventilating the underside of the roof deck.