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Roofing Terms Glossary

Understanding the terms and basic jargon used in roofing can be confusing to a homeowner or somebody just entering the trade.

When talking to contractors or working in the roofing industry, you’ll need to understand various types of roofs, roofing tools, materials and other terms that are commonly used.

To make it easier for you to understand the roofing industry terminology, we’ve put together a glossary of basic roofing terminology with easy to understand definitions for each term.

If you have suggestions for additional terms, please leave your comments and feedback!

  • Building Paper – Heavy paper used in walls or roofs to damp proof.
  • Built-Up Roof – A roofing material applied in sealed, waterproof layers, where there is only a slight slope to the roof.
  • Cornice – Horizontal projection at the top of a wall or under the overhanging part of the roof.
  • Eaves – The extension of roof beyond house walls.
  • Flashing – Noncorrosive metal used around angles or junctions in roofs and exterior walls to prevent leaks.
  • Gable – The triangular part of a wall under the inverted "v" of the roof line.
  • Gambrel Roof – A roof with two pitches, designed to provide more space on upper floors. The roof is steeper on its lower slope and flatter toward the ridge.
  • Gutter – A channel at the eaves for conveying away rain water.
  • Hip – The external angle formed by the juncture of two slopes of a roof.
  • Hip Roof – A roof that slants upward on three or four sides.
  • Lath – One of a number of thin narrow strips of wood nailed to rafters, ceiling joists, wall studs, etc. to make a groundwork or key for slates, tiles, or plastering.
  • Pitch – The angle or slope of a roof.
  • Rafter – One of a series of structural roof members spanning from an exterior wall to a center ridge beam or ridge board.
  • Rake – The sloped edge of a roof, running from the eaves to the ridge.
  • Ridge Pole – A thick longitudinal plank to which the ridge rafters of a roof are attached.
  • Roof Sheathing – Sheets, usually of plywood, which are nailed to the top edges of trusses or rafters to tie the roof together and support the roofing material.
  • Shakes – Handcut wood shingles.
  • Sheathing – The first covering of boards or material on the outside wall or roof prior to installing the finished siding or roof covering.
  • Shingles – Pieces of wood, asbestos or other material used as an overlapping outer covering on walls or roofs.
  • Soffit – The visible underside of structural members such as staircases, cornices, beams, a roof overhang or eave.
  • Valley – The depression at the meeting point of two roof slopes.
  • Verge – The edge of tiles, slates or shingles, projecting over the gable of a roof.
- Local Fresh  updated April 16th, 2008
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