As experts in the roofing field, we get a lot of questions about roofing terminology. Check out our glossary of roofing terms and frequently asked questions about our services.
Harmony Home Improvement was founded by Dennis Bellamy in 2002. We have been serving Connecticut for over 23 years!
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Asphalt roofing (also called asphalt shingle roofing) is the most common roofing material used on homes in the United States. The asphalt shingles are usually made from mineral fiber and cementitious fillers.
Base flashing is the name for the attached material that sits at the joint of a roof and vertical surface, for instance, where a garage roof meets the second story of a home. It helps direct the flow of rainwater while protecting the roof deck from water penetration.
Roof blisters are bubbles that grow under the surface of asphalt roofing. Trapped pockets of air or moisture are superheated by the sun, causing them to swell and eventually burst.
A built-up roof (BUR) is a low-maintenance, multi-layered asphalt roofing system composed of layers of asphalt between layers of ply sheets. These roofs are often flat or low-sloped.
Counter flashing is an additional strip of sheet metal formed and installed on top of base flashing in a roof system to direct water away from the roof and chimney into the gutters and onto the home’s siding.
A course of shingles is the term for a row of shingles that lines the entire length of a roof.
A roof cricket is a formation behind a chimney built in order to divert water around it. It is constructed using two steep inclines to prevent precipitation of all kinds from accumulating around the chimney.
The roof deck (or roof decking, or sheathing) is an installed layer onto which you attach your roofing materials. Roof decking provides a flat surface on which to affix your roofing material of choice.
A dormer is a part of the roof (usually with a window) that rises vertically off a pitched roof. Dormers are used to open up extra living space and allow natural light through the roof and into the home.
A downspout, sometimes called the leader, is the vertical channel that allows water to flow out of a roof’s gutter system. This mitigates water damage to your roofing system, protecting your investment and preventing mold and flooding.
A drip edge is flashing installed at an angle on the eaves, rake, and gable of a roof in order to direct rainwater into your gutters. This prevents rain from soaking into the materials beneath the shingles and potentially damaging other parts of a home.
The eaves of a house are the portion of roofing that overhangs the vertical walls. Eaves are designed to throw water from the roof and protect the sides of the house.
Eave flashing is a layer of roofing material installed to help divert the flow of water from the roof and into your home’s gutter system.
Roofing felt is rolled, fibrous material saturated with asphalt. Felt is used as a breathable, protective moisture barrier in a roofing system.
A fiberglass mat is the core material used for asphalt roofing shingles. It is manufactured using glass fibers.
Flashing is pieces of metal attached to various parts of the home in order to prevent water from seeping into vulnerable joints at intersections of the roof (dormers, vent pipes, chimneys, walls, etc). Flashing is generally made from galvanized aluminum or copper.
The gable is the triangular upper portion of a flat wall. They’re found at the ridge of a sloped roof.
A gable roof is a type of roof with sloping planes of the same angle and pitch on both sides. This creates flat fronts on two sides of the house (these are called gables).
A Gambrel roof is generally a two-sided, symmetrical roof with two distinct slant variations. At the top, a Gambrel roof slopes at a shallow angle. The lower part of the roof is much steeper. An example of a Gambrel roof can be found on a traditional barn roof.
In a roofing system, granules are crushed rocks covered in a ceramic coating. Granules are applied to the surface of asphalt shingles and other asphalt roofing materials.
A roofing hip is an inclined, external angle formed where two sloping roof surfaces meet at the top. The run from the ridge of the house to the eaves.
A hip roof consists of four sloping planes of the same pitch and angle. A hip roof eliminates gables.
Hip shingles are curved shingles that cover your home’s hips and ridges.
An ice dam is formed when snow/ice from a warmer part of a roof melts, then refreezes around the colder eaves and/or gutters. This blocks the path of melting snow and ice, allowing water to build up and potentially leak into your home.
Laminated shingles (or architectural shingles) are thicker versions of asphalt shingles. They’re constructed with a heavier base mat and multiple layers of more refined asphalt.
A mansard roof displays two slopes (one shallow, one steep) on all four sides. It is a four-sided gambrel-style hip roof that contains no gables. A mansard roof is typical of old, stately brick homes. Mansard roofs are mostly associated with French architecture.
Mineral-surfaced roofing is generally asphalt coated product reinforced with glass fiber, either in shingles or roll roofing. Mineral-surfaced roofing is coated in ceramic granules to help protect against UV and weathering damage.
An open valley on a roof is a deliberate choice of construction: shingles on either side of the valley are trimmed back and the valley flashing is left exposed.
An overhang is the part of the roof that extends past the exterior wall, “hanging over” the edge of the home.
The pitch of a roof refers to the degree of incline. It’s expressed as the ratio of “rise”, over distance traversed (“span”). The pitch of a roof is typically measured in feet.
Ply refers to the number of layers of roofing.
A rafter is a structural component of a roofing system located immediately beneath the roof deck. Typically made of wood, rafters are laid in a series and support the rest of the roofing system.
The rake of a roof is the exposed portion of a gabled roof. The rake extends from eave to ridge and covers the top edge of the roof
The ridge of a roof is the highest horizontal, external angle of a house formed by two sloping roof planes intersecting. A house may have more than one ridge.
A ridge shingle, or ridge cap, are curved shingles used to cover the horizontal, external angle formed by the ridge.
The rise of a roof is measured as the vertical distance from a structures’ eaves line to the ridge.
Roll roofing is asphalt roofing product manufactured in large rolls, as opposed to shingles. It’s often thinner and not quite as durable as asphalt shingles.
Self-sealing shingles use strips of factory-applied adhesive to better attach to the roof deck. They’re generally activated by heat.
A self-sealing strip is factory-applied adhesive attached to shingles that allows courses of shingles to bond together using the sun’s heat.
Shingle shading is the normal variation of color produced by shingle manufacturing processes.
A roof’s sheathing (or decking) refers to the wood boards that span trusses and support the rest of the roof.
A shed roof is considered to be a long sloping plane in a single direction with a flat, steep slope.
The slope is a roof’s incline expressed as the ratio between the “rise” (measured in inches) to the “run” (measured in feet).
Soffit is a finishing material applied to the underside of your roof’s overhang. Soffit has both aesthetic and functional purposes – it looks nice and also prevents moisture from penetrating the roofing system.
A soil stack is part of a home’s plumbing system. It connects interior plumbing with the sewage lines and allows gasses to vent as they rise.
A square of roofing is a unit of measurement equivalent to 100 square feet, e.g. 2000 square foot field area of a roof is called a “20 square roof”.
A roof valley occurs at the lower points of the intersection of two sloping roof planes (as opposed to a ridge, which occurs at the upper points of intersection).
A vent refers to any outlet for airflow that extends through a roof deck. This might be a pipe or a soil stack, but it’s considered to be any device expressly designed to ventilate the inside of a roof deck.