Common Roofing Term Definitions to Aid Homeowners

Roof of a house

As a homeowner, have you ever been confused by construction terminology?

It is commonplace for companies to use terms specific to their field of expertise. However, this terminology sometimes confuses the consumer, and this is especially true when providing a quote. Below is a list of common roofing terms and their definitions to aid in the consumer’s knowledge and understanding of roofing terms.

Downspout: A vertical pipe or conduit that carries rainwater from the scupper, guttering of a building to a lower roof level, drain, ground or storm water runoff system.

Drip Edge: Flashing made of steel or other non-corrosive material, placed along the eaves to let water drop clear of fascia and into the gutters (if gutters are in place).

Eave: A vertical roof edge that extends past the exterior wall line.

Fascia: Vertical roof trim located along the perimeter of a building, usually below the roof level, to cover the rafter tails at the eaves. Referred to also as the boards behind the gutter.

Field of Roof System: the central or main portion of a roof, excluding the perimeter and flashing.

Flashing: Metal or other flexible material used to seal the roof and prevent leaks around any projection or intersection, such as pipes, chimneys, dormers, valleys or adjoining walls.

Gable: A triangular portion of the end wall of a building, directly under the sloping roof and above the eave line.

Gutters: A channeled component installed on the downslope perimeter of a roof to convey water runoff from the roof to the drain leaders or downspouts.

Hip: The external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes; from the ridge to the eaves.

Rafter: The structural member supporting the deck and roof system components, extending from the downslope perimeter to the ridge or hip.

Rake: The inclined edge of a sloped roof over a wall from the eave to the ridge, and usually perpendicular to the eave and ridge.

Ridge: The horizontal external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes, i.e., where the two sides of a roof meet at the highest point.

Sheathing/Deck: A layer of boards, plywood or fiber materials applied to the outer studs, joists, and rafters of a building to strengthen the structure and serve as a base for an exterior waterproof covering.

Soffit: The finished underside of the eaves, or roof overhang, which can be enclosed or exposed.

Underlayment: an asphalt-saturated felt or other sheet material installed between the roof deck and the roof system. Underlayment is primarily used to separate the roof covering from the roof deck, to shed water, and to provide secondary weather protection for the roof area of the building.

Valley: The internal angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes running from the eaves to the ridge, allowing water to run off.

Vent Pipe: an opening designed to allow air, heat, water vapor or other gas to escape from inside a building or building component and into the atmosphere.

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