Roofing terms explained

Many of us have been in the situation where say, you are having your car or computer worked on and when the mechanic or the tech comes to explain the situation, they use a bunch of technical jargon that ends up confusing you even further? It’s not uncommon for people to wish they had done some research on the basic terminology of an unfamiliar subject, only after it’s too late and decisions have already been made. 

But when it comes to protecting the safety and longevity of your home, the risk of not knowing basic terms and concepts as it relates to the basic structure of your home, is not a smart one to take. So in an effort to get you more familiar with one of the most important structural elements of your home, the roof, we have put together a list of roofing terms that many homeowners are unfamiliar with and explained them for your convenience:

Algae (often thought of as mold, fungus): green or black colored stains or streaks that grow on shingles when the algae is able to feed off moisture; can be properly cleaned off to avoid long-term damage. 

Angled fasteners: fasteners are the nails and staples which are driven into the deck, and when constructing roofs fasteners are angled in a nonparallel direction for structural reasons.

Barge rafters: the large, thick fascia board extending beyond the eaves at the end of the house to cover the gutters.

Buckling: the appearance of bumps or waves on the roof indicate that the shingles or decking of the roof are buckling, which means there is some type of water or structural damage to the foundation of the roof.

Class A, B, C: roofing materials are designated a fire resistance rating based on how effectively they are able to withstand fire; both materials on the top of the roofing system as well as on the interior are given class ratings, with Class A being the most effective against severe fire exposure.

Cricket: Also called the saddle, the structure behind the high side of the chimney with a slope designed to divert water away and down the roof.

Deck sheathing: Layer of protection underneath the shingles and outer membrane layers covering the rafters; usually made of plywood.

Dormer: the roofed structure projecting from the main roof of the house, usually containing a window; often used to create space in a loft area.

Eave: the overhanding edges on the face of the wall which project beyond the building to throw water off the walls; often used as a decorative elements as well.

Fascia: horizontal decorative board that carries the gutter mounted where the roof meets the outer walls of the house. 

Felt: extra layer of protection between shingles and roof deck, also known as tar paper and it actually helps laborers gain traction when roofing. 

Flashing: protects your roof by sealing out all the water and moisture around vulnerable areas and is installed around the intersections made by chimneys, sunlights, window openings, etc.

Gable: the triangular shape formed by the edges of the intersecting roof pitches. 

Joist: the ceiling joist or rafter tie is the horizontal supporting board that forms the bottom portion of the triangle roofing frame.

Outrigger: the block or extension of the rafter extended beyond the line of the wall.

Pitch: the slope, or the numerical representation of how steep the roof is, determined by the amount of rise over a run of 12 inches. 

Rafter: the various slopped boards which form the structure of the roof and support the sheathing, running from the peak of the roof down to the eaves; there are multiple patterns for laying rafters when constructing a roof.  

Ridge: the top point at which the two slopped portions of the roof meet. 

Square: common roofing terminology used among roofers when ordering materials, simply means the amount of roofing material needed to cover 100 square feet of roof. 

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