For most of us, roofs are just “that thing on top of the building.” But it’s not as simple as that. These structures are composed of different parts with their own specific terms. You’ll discover that when you talk to a professional roof company, and hear a word and say, “What’s that?” We’ve compiled a list of basic terms and what they mean, so you won’t feel so confused by the jargon.
BUTT: No, it doesn’t mean what you think – at least in the context of roofs. This is the large, exposed end of a shingle.
DECK: These are plywoods or other board sheets that serves as the foundation or base for roofs.
DRIP EDGE: A metal strip shaped like an L that runs along the edge of the roof. Its purpose is to collect rainwater and channel it off the roof without running down the eaves or siding.
EAVES: This is the side of the roof that projects out from the walls of the house.
EXPOSURE: Shingles are stacked on the roof, with only about half being exposed to the elements. That part is called Exposure.
FELT / UNDERLAYMENT: Roofing paper that has been reinforced with asphalt to become waterproof. It is placed between roofing players and the roof deck.
FLASHING: These metal pieces prevent water from penetrating into the intersections of walls, chimneys, or vent pipes.
PITCH: This is the slope of the roof or the angle that it is inclined.
RAFTERS: It is the frame that supports the roof deck and roofing. They are usually laid in parallel lines, and are sometimes concealed or and can sometimes be concealed or left exposed to form part of the roof’s design. They can be made of timber or steel.
Rafters are typically made of timber or steel and can be concealed within the roof structure, or can be left exposed to the spaces below. The may have battens laid on top of and perpendicular to them, to fix the roof covering to.
RIDGE.: The part where two sloped roof sections are joined. The National Roofing Contractors Association also defines it as the “highest point on a roof, represented by a horizontal line where two roof areas intersect, running the length of the area.”
Fun trivia: in Old English, it was spelled “hyrge” and was first used in the 16th century. By the 17th century people started referring to ridge-piece and ridge pole – basically, the long pole or wood plank used to secure the ridge. Today, it is called a ridge board.
SQUARE: A unit of measurement that means 100 square feet (or 10 x 10 feet).
SLOPE: Typically, a roof slope means the number if inches it rises for every 12 inches.
SOFFIT: This roof terms come from the Italian word “soffita” (which means under) and “figgere” (which means to fix). It was first used in early Palladian era of architecture. Today it means the material that connects the roof overhang with the side of your building. Soffits protect the rafters from weather to prevent mold and rot. Some soffits have vents that allow air to circulate in the attic.
VALLEY: The angle formed where two sloping roof surfaces intersect.
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