Whether it’s your first time owning a home, or you’re just getting around to re-roofing your family home, you may want to know a little bit about roofing terminology. Just like any other industry, there’s plenty of jargon and unfamiliar words in the roofing world, though most of them make plenty of sense, once you know what they mean! If you plan on chatting with roofers anytime soon, here are definitions to some of the most commonly used roofing terms you’ll need to get by:



Asphalt is the most commonly used roofing material in the US, closely seconded by metal roofs. You can pick out an asphalt roof easily — they’re the ones with shingles!



A downspout is used to direct water away from the foundation of your home. They’re essentially large, metal pipes running from your gutters, down the side of your house, and out away from the foundation.



The lowest edge of your roof. Usually, this is the part of the roof that hangs over the side of your house, and it’s most often where you attach the gutters.



The fascia is a finishing board that runs along the edge of your roof. It’s usually fixed to the trusses that support the roof and hides them to give a more “finished” look. Your fascia is also where the gutter is attached to the roof and can function as a protective barrier between the roof and gutters.



When a roofer talks about “flashing” they’re talking about the special components used to seal tricky parts of the roof, like the space between your chimney and the rest of the roof, or the areas around sunlights. This is a very key term to remember because flashing protects the most vulnerable parts of your roof from the elements. A breakdown in flashing is a common cause of roof leaks, and can easily be fixed.



Joists, rafters, and trusses are all the main components that make up the support of your roof. If you look in your attic, they’ll be the large wooden beams arching up diagonally, forming large triangles in the very top of your attic. Joists, trusses, and rafters are what holds up the exterior components of your roof.



On a roof, a ridge is any area where two faces of the roof come together. If you think of a roof as a triangle, the ridge would be the very top point of the triangle, where the two sides of asphalt come together.



Sheathing (Decking)

Sheathing or decking are boards or sheets of thin wood that are nailed to the rafters of your roof. Sheathing goes on before the shingles, and is the material that the shingles are secured to. Essentially, sheathing gives shingles structure, so that the shingles can protect your home from the elements.



The amount of roofing material needed to cover 100 square feet when properly applied. Check out this page on residential roofing for an in-depth look at how squares affect the price of your new roof.



Slope, or pitch, refers to how steep your roof is. The steeper your roof, the more easily it will shed water and snow, but the more difficult it will be to work on. An example of a steep slope would be a church steeple — it doesn’t get much steeper than that! A more shallow sloped roof would be something you might see on a classic ranch house.



The second layer of protection for the sheathing. For asphalt roofs, most underlayment is made of an asphalt-saturated felt — also called tar paper — that blocks the elements from seeping into the sheathing.



A valley is the exact opposite of a ridge. Where a ridge is a high point when two asphalt sides of the roof come together, the valley would be the low point where two asphalt sides come together. For example, if your garage connects to your home in an L shape, the place where the lowest point of your home’s roof meets the lowest point of the garage’s roof is the valley.



Looking for more info? Werner Roofing can help. We’ve been in the business for years, and love helping homeowners determine which roof type is best for their home. Whether you’re looking for a small roof repair, or you’re interested in a brand new roof, get your free roofing estimate today!


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