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 roofing terms. This can lead to confusion when you’re 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. This 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 important for homeowners to have this knowledge so they’re able to examine their own roofs throughout the year and detect common roofing concerns earlier. 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, an asphalt shingle is relatively inexpensive, simple to install, requires minimal upkeep, and comes in a variety of colors and styles!  If installed properly, asphalt shingles can last between 20-30 years.



Decking and sheathing is a surface like plywood or OSB (oriented strand board), that roofing materials such as shingles are applied. They help keep the roof trusses or rafters properly spaced and are the strength that holds the entire roof together.



A dormer is a structure that projects from a sloped roof, usually with a window. These are commonly used to increase the usable space within the home and to 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.


Drip Edge

An L-shaped strip, usually metal, is installed along roof edges to help control the flow of water away from the fascia and to protect the underlying roofing components. It prevents water from getting into your attic space where wood damage or wood rot could then occur.



Eaves are the roof sections or edges which extend out over your home’s exterior walls and are made up of two main components; the fascia and the soffit. These overhangs help water drip away from the siding of your home.



Fascia boards are wooden boards that run along the lower edge of the roof that most gutter systems are fixed to and, in certain circumstances, the fascia board is used to support the bottom row of tiles or slates.



Felt or underlayment is a sheet of asphalt-saturated material (often called tar paper) that is used as a secondary layer of protection for the roof decking. It’s applied underneath all other roofing materials and services as an added layer of protection from severe weather.



Roof flashing is materials fitted around chimneys, air vents and valleys on the roof to provide an airtight and waterproof seal against moisture. Flashing can be made out of different materials such as plastic, aluminum, lead, steel, or copper. Flashing is used to prevent seepage of water around any intersection or projection in the roof system.



Granules are tiny pieces of different colored rock that are coated onto an asphalt shingle using a tar-like substance, originally sourced from bitumen or coal, that give asphalt shingles their visible texture. They provide the long-lasting color used on the exposed part of the shingle. Some shingles feature algae-resistant granules or “reflective” granules that can be used to make shingles that reflect a higher percentage of the sun’s heat energy.



Gutters are the channels along the eaves, or edges, of your roof that collect and direct water to the nearest downspout which empties and directs this water away from your home and foundation. There are different styles of gutters and most are made of aluminum, vinyl, steel, or copper.



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



A ridge is the top edge of two intersecting sloping roof surfaces.



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



A square is a common measurement for a roof area. One square is equivalent to 100 square feet (10 by 10 feet).



A truss provides additional strength and support to your roof’s rafters. They are typically made of steel or wood, depending on where it’s been installed. Trusses are designed for specific applications and cannot be cut or altered.



A roof valley is formed when two sections of the roof slope downwards and meet an angle. A valley is shaped like a ‘V’.  This V creates an area for water from snow and rain to run off the roof – a lot of leak sources are found in these areas!



Roof vents provide appropriate air circulation to prevent the buildup of heat inside an attic and help maintain a cooler exterior roof temperature in colder climates to control ice buildup. 

6 thoughts on “Roofing Jargon You Need to Know”

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