Signature Exteriors

Roofing Terms

Roofing Jargon You Need to Know

Roofing jargon can be confusing. It’s common for most homeowners to be unfamiliar with the technical jargon of the roofing industry. This language barrier can be confusing when speaking with a local roofing expert and can impact your ability to make informed choices regarding your roof leak repair. Although some homeowners are familiar with the basics, it’s still a good idea to research and become more familiar with common roofing jargon and procedures used during your roof replacement or roof repair. Understanding your roofing system allows you to make more informed decisions and have a better understanding during the process of your repairs. We’ve also put together a list of roofing terms & faq’s if you’re looking for more roofing expertise.

Additionally, we think it’s critical for homeowners to have this knowledge, so they can examine their roofs throughout the year and detect common roofing concerns sooner rather than later. We’ve composed a list of roofing jargon and terminology that will benefit you throughout this process.

Asphalt Shingle

The most common and popular roofing material in North America, asphalt shingle is relatively inexpensive, simple to install, requires minimal upkeep, and comes in a wide variety of colors and styles! If installed properly, asphalt shingles can last between 20-50 years.


Decking, also called sheathing, is a surface like plywood, OSB (oriented strand board), or plank boards to which roofing materials such as shingles are applied. Decking helps keep the roof trusses and rafters appropriately spaced, and they are also the component that directly supports the shingles on the roof.


A dormer is a structure that projects from a sloped roof, usually with a window. Dormers serve to increase the home’s usable space or create window openings in a roof plane. A simple gabled roof on your dormer helps shed water away from the window and down its sides instead.

Drip Edge

An L-shaped strip, usually metal, is installed along roof edges to help limit the fascia’s exposure to water. Protecting the fascia in this way also helps protect the underlying roofing and framing components. It prevents moisture from getting into your attic space, where wood damage or wood rot could occur.


Eaves are the portions of the roof’s perimeter that run parallel to the ground. Gutters are typically installed on the eaves to limit degradation due to water flow on the exterior walls and at the foundation.


Fascia boards are wooden or composite boards that run along the roof perimeter and to which gutter systems are typically attached. In certain circumstances, the fascia boards also support the bottom row of tiles or slates.


Felt, or underlayment, is a sheet of breathable and waterproof material applied between the decking and the shingles. Most underlayments are asphalt-saturated paper (often called tar paper) or woven polymers (synthetic underlayment). Felt provides an added layer of protection from severe weather.


Roof flashings are materials fitted around chimneys, at roof-to-wall transitions, and around roof penetrations to provide a waterproof seal against moisture. Depending on your environment and the type of roof, your flashings can be made out of different materials such as plastic, aluminum, lead, steel, or copper. Flashing is used to prevent water seepage around any intersection or projection in the roof system.


Granules are tiny pieces of different colored rock that make up the top-most layer of an asphalt shingle that gives asphalt shingles their visible texture. The granules also provide the long-lasting color visible on the exposed part of the shingle. Some shingles feature algae-resistant granules, which can impede the growth of algae for up to 10 years. Alternatively, some shingles use “reflective” granules that reflect a higher percentage of the sun’s heat energy.


Gutters are channels along the eaves of your roof that collect and direct water to the nearest downspout instead of allowing it to fall directly from the roof. The downspouts typically empty in a location that directs this water away from your home and foundation. There are many material options for gutter, including aluminum, vinyl, steel, or copper. Multiple styles of gutter are also available, including but not limited to 5″ K-Style, 6″ K-Style, and 6″ Half-Round gutters.


A hip is where two sloping roof facets intersect and form a line that runs from the roof perimeter to a ridge. These intersections require the installation of ridge cap shingles to ensure they are correctly waterproofed.


Vents, pipes, stacks, chimneys – penetrations are anything that penetrates a roof deck.


Rakes are the portions of the roof’s perimeter that run from the eaves to the ridges. The primary purpose of the rakes is to cover the tops of the exterior walls at the roof perimeter.


A ridge is where two sloping roof facets intersect and form a line parallel to the ground. These intersections require the installation of ridge cap shingles to ensure they are correctly waterproofed.


The roof slope, or roof pitch, is the numerical measure of the roof’s steepness. Roofs may be “flat” or “pitched” – both require different material types when repairing or replacing.


A square is a standard measurement for a roof area, and one square is equivalent to 100 square feet (10 by 10 feet).


A truss provides additional strength and support to your roof’s rafters. Depending on local or engineering requirements, they are typically made of steel or wood. Trusses are designed for specific applications and are generally not cut or altered during a roof replacement or repair.


A valley is where two facets of the roof intersect while both slope downwards. Valleys are areas that typically experience the most water flow compared to the rest of the roof, and valleys are one of the most common sources of roof leaks.


Roof vents provide appropriate air circulation to prevent heat buildup inside an attic exceeding roof tolerances. The shingles can fail earlier than expected if they get too hot due to inadequate ventilation.