Glossary of Roofing Terms

Asphalt: The material used in many types of roofing shingles and one of the most widely used materials for roofing.

Built-up roof: A low-sloped or flat roof that consists of multiple layers of shingles or other roofing materials.

Butt edge: The lower edge of the shingle without tabs typically used as a starter strip for shingled roofs.

Caulk: Used to seal cracks to prevent leaks.

Counter flashing: Flashing on a vertical wall to prevent water from seeping into that wall.

Course: A row of shingles that extends on the entire roof’s length.

Cricket: A saddle constructed at the back side of a chimney with a purpose of deflecting water and snow around the chimney to prevent leaks and snow building up.

Deck: Solid surface of the roof supported by the rafters to which roofing materials are secured.

Dormer is a small framed window area the projects outwards through the slope area of the roof.

Downspout: A pipe through which water flows from gutters to the ground.

Drip edge: A material applied along the rakes and eaves under the shingle starter row to ensure water runs off the roof and into the gutter.

Eaves: The lower, horizontal edge of a roof that extends from the horizontal external wall to the edge of the roof line.

Edging strips: Used to give secure edges to existing roofs after removing wood shingles to be replaced with asphalt shingles.

Felt: Asphalt saturated fibrous material. Serves as an underlayment between the roof deck and the shingles.

Fiberglass mat: Made from glass fibers, used as a base material for asphalt shingles.

Flashing: Made of metal, such as aluminum or copper, or of asphalt roll roofing, in area where the shingles meet vertical or angled walls, to prevent water seepage under the shingles. Also used around vent pipes and roof vents.

Gable: The upper triangular portion of a sidewall between the edge of a sloping roof.

Granules: Colored crushed rock coated in ceramic imbedded in the surface of roofing products made of asphalt. Made of numerous colors for appearance.

Gutter: The trough located under the horizontal eaves to collect water from the roof and channel it to downspouts.

Hip: The ascent external angle constructed by the junction of a couple of sloping roof planes. Spreads between the ridge and the eaves.

Ice dam: When snow thaws and refreezes, it can form a dam at the roof’s edge, stopping water from making it into the gutter. These can allow water to back up under shingles.

Interlocking shingles: Single shingles designed to interlock with adjacent shingles to help prevent wind damage,

Lap: Covering the surface of a shingle or roll with another. The shingle above another will overlap the lower shingles to allow water to run off.

Lap cement: An asphalt-based cement to fasten overlapping shingles to the course under it…

Overhang: Part of the roof that extends beyond the building’s exterior walls.

Pitch: The degree of which the roof rises compared to the span.

Ply: Layers of roofing material. Can be one or two ply.

Rafter: Supporting framing that extends from the roof peak to the eaves on which the roof deck is fastened.

Rake: The sloped edge of a sloped roof over a wall.

Ridge: The highest, external horizontal angle where two sloped roof surfaces meet. Sometimes called the peak.

Ridge shingles or ridge cap: Shingles used to cover gap between the shingles that meet at the ridge. Made of shingles, roll roofing or metal.

Rise: The measurement of the vertical range from the eave line to the peak.

Roll roofing: Asphalt roofing made in roll form rather than in shingle. Often used as starter strips, flashing or as a ridge cap.

Self-sealing shingles: Shingles that gave a strip or spot of self-sealing tape or asphalt applied at the factory. Helps bond top course to the course on which it overlaps.

Sheathing: Roof deck materials used as the deck for roofs. Made of exterior-grade materials. Sometimes also used on exterior walls on corners of construction for strength.

Soffit: The completed underside of the eaves that extends from the outer edge of the eave to the outer edge of the external wall.

Span: The distance measured horizontally from the outer edge of one eave to the outer edge of the opposing eave.

Square: A construction measurement of 100 sq ft. Most building materials are sold by the square to help determine the amount of materials needed.

Underlayment: A thin layer of asphalt-saturated felt. It is applied beneath roofing in order to provide more deck protection.

Vent: An air outlet that sticks out through the roof deck such as a stack or pipe. Can include devices used as roof vents to provide attic ventilation.


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