Common Roofing Terms You Should Know

Making an educated decision is always a good idea, especially when it comes time to replace your roof. Listed below is a set of common roofing terms you may come across when discussing or researching roof installation, roof replacement, as well as roof repair. Feel free to read them below. As always, we are available to answer any questions you may have when it comes to roofing. Simply give us a call and we’d be happy to help!


Roof discoloration, dark streaks and spots are caused by fungus developing on the roof shingles. Click here for more information about algae growing on roof shingles.


A bituminous waterproofing agent applied to roofing materials during manufacturing.


Bubbles or bubbling in roofing materials. It is usually moisture related. In shingles, blisters are caused by either moisture under the material or moisture trapped inside of the material.

Closed Cut Valley

An installation method where one roof plane’s shingles completely cover the other’s. The top layer is cut to match the valley lines.


A row of shingles or roll roofing running the length of the roof.


When shingles are improperly installed over an existing roof or are over-exposed, they may “cup”. This can also be due to a manufacturing defect.


he surface installed over the supporting framing members to which the roofing is applied. Basically the surface on which the roofing is to be installed. This can be plywood, planks, or wood boards.


A raised roof extending out of a larger roof plane. Typically a framed window unit projecting through the sloping plane of a roof. Click here to see more information on roof dormers

Drip Edge

An L-shaped metal strip positioned along a roof’s edges to allow water to run off the roof without running down the eaves or siding. A lip that keeps the shingles up off of the deck and over the gutters and eaves to prevent water from going behind the siding.


Typically the first 3 feet across the roof. The horizontal lower edge of a sloped roof. Click here for more information about eaves.

Eave Vents

Small screens under the eave that allow fresh air to circulate into the attic.


The part or section of a shingle that is exposed to the elements, usually less than half its length.


A Metal pan extending up or down a roof slope around flashing pieces, usually located at chimneys and plumbing vents


A flat-board, face or band located at a cornice’s outer edge.


Roofing paper that creates a waterproof barrier between the roof deck and the roofing material. Can be asphalt, rubber or synthetic.


The material used to waterproof a roof around any projections. Typically pieces of metal or rolled roofing. Many times used around chimneys, adjoining walls, piping, valleys and dormers.


The upper portion of a sidewall that comes to a triangular point at the ridge of a sloping roof.


Ceramic-coated colored crushed rock that is applied to the exposed surface of asphalt roofing products.

Open Valley

The section where to roof slopes meet where the flashing if exposed to the weather. A metal strip that is exposed where the two roof slopes intersect.


Oriented Strand Board. A decking made from wood chips and lamination glues. At this time, it is used in 70% of all floor, wall and roof sheathing in North America.


The number of layers of roofing. For example, one-ply or two-ply.


Framework that supports the roof deck and roofing. On a sloped roof, these are the angled timbers on the underside. Always beneath the deck sloping from the ridge to the wall plate.


The pitched edge of a roof that overhangs the wall of a home. This also refers to the board or molding placed along the sloping side of a gable roof end. Click here for more information about rakes


The uppermost, horizontal external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.

Ridge Cap

Formed shingles, shake or tile used to cover the ridge of a building.

Ridge Vent

A ventilation system placed over a cut slot in the ridge line to allow air flow out of the attic space. Not having a ridge vent installed on your roof can trap air and moisture in your roof and damage it over the long run. For more information on ridge vents, click here.

Roof Jack

A corrosion resistant metal covering that seals penetration on roof such as exhaust fans, gas water heater pipes and plumbing venting through the roof.


The act of installing the new shingles over the old shingles on the roof. Typically, the maximum amount of allowable layers on a roof is two. We recommend doing a tear-off before installing the new roofing material in order to maximize the life of the new shingles and not to void the warranty.

Side Walls

Where a vertical roof plane meets a vertical wall. The sides of dormers etc.


A roof’s slope is the number of inches it rises for every 12 inches of horizontal “run.” A roof with a “4-in-12 slope” rises 4 inches for every 12 inches of horizontal run. The same roof has a 4/12—or 1/3—pitch. The terms “pitch” and “slope” are simply two different ways of expressing the same measurement.


The ventilation installed under the eaves, or at the roof edge.


A common measurement for roof area. One square is equal to 100 square feet. (10ft x 10ft). A roof with a field area of 3,700 square feet would be called a 37 square roof.

Starter Strip

The first course of roofing installed. Usually trimmed from main roof material.


The exposed portion of strip shingles defined by cutouts.


Removal of the existing roofing material down to the roof deck. Basically removing the old shingles and underlayment in order to install the new shingles.

Tubular Skylight

Also called solar tubes, a natural light system using a reflective tube to carry the light into the home.


Area where two roof planes come together creating a “V” angle or depression allowing for water run-off.

Woven Valley

Method of valley construction in which shingles from both sides of the valley extend across the valley and are woven together by overlapping alternate courses as they are applied. The valley flashing is not exposed.

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