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22 Roofing Terminology Definitions You Need to Know

Whether you’re looking to replace parts of your roof or do a complete reroofing, you’ll need to know the parts that make up your roof. It’s helpful to know these terms if you are looking for estimates or a roofing assessment.

roofing terms

We’ve gathered 22 terms you should know to identify different types of roofing and identify parts of a roof.

Built-up Roof: Alternating layers of roofing tar and asphalt, usually on low-slope roofs. At the top is usually gravel or stone.

Cornice: Molding that projects out from the side walls of the house. Attached to the walls and edges of a home, usually decorative. Contains either wall, stone, plastic or other material.

Counterflashing: Designed to reduce water damage to the home. The flash is installed at the top a vertical structure or wall, hung over a shingle flashing.

Courses: Shingles or tiles faced horizontally

Drip: Metal strip extending beyond rakes or eaves, preventing rain from further damaging shingles. The water rolls around the shingles and back to the wooden area of the home.

Eaves: Bottom edge of the roof that hangs beyond the edge of the home.

Fascia: Protects inside and outside of the home from moisture. Horizontal trim boards attached behind eaves and gutters.

Flashing: Sheet metal used to prevent leaks on different areas of the roof.

Felt: A combination of rags or paper used by a roofer. Also known as tar paper, that can contain asphalt in the mixture.

Frieze Board: Horizontal trim board installed at the top of the house’s siding. The corner is then created with soffit.

Gable: Enclosed part of the wall, usually triangular and at the edge of a ridged roof.

Hip: Two sides of a roof jointed on the exterior, connected by supporting walls.

Joist: A piece of structure nailed horizontally over sheathing. Common on flat roofs.

Rafter: Sheathing is nailed to this piece slanted.

Rake: A gable-type roof structure that is slanted on the edge which extends past the end wall of the home.

Ridge: Line that is horizontal on top of the edge of two sloping roof planes.

Sheathing: Tough material nailed to rafters which secures roofing materials such as shingles. Boards or plywood are used.

Shingle Flashing: Sheet metal laid in strips under shingles individually and bent across the edges of a wall or chimney.

Slope: The vertical rise of a roof in inches per 12 inches horizontally distance. “Pitch” is also another name for this structure.

Soffit: Underside area that has boards enclosed on that side of the roof, extending beyond the sidewalls of the house.

Square: Covers 100 square feet of roofing material required for the roof.

Underlayment: Tar or any type of felt material applied on top of sheathing for shingle application.