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Roofing Terminology

Understanding the components of your roofing system will help you determine the style of your roof, identify interior space, and dictate where to add rooms, frame additions, and place chimneys. The roof also suggests the type of climate that the geographical location of the building receives. Not only will understanding the details of the roof help the builders responsible for the design, but it will also help the homeowners select the perfect roofing style for there location and personal taste. You will find some of the most important roofing terms defined below.

Roof Details


  • Area Divider - A flashed assembly usually extending above the surface of the roof that is anchored to the roof deck. It is used to relieve thermal stresses in a roof system where an expansion joint is not required, or to separate large roof areas.
  • Asphalt Shingles - Composition roof shingles made from asphalt-impregnated felt covered with mineral granules.
  • Boxed Eave - Horizontal overhang that runs from the eaves edge to the side of the building.
  • Cornice - The top set of moldings just below a roofline, usually consisting of a fascia board, a soffit and appropriate trim moldings.
  • Dormer Rafter - Roof rafters, which frame the dormer roof.
  • Dormers - Create additional openings in your roof and are classified by a variety of styles associated with roof shapes. (Gabled, hipped, shed, etc.)
  • Dutch Hip Roof - Roof with the upper gable ends of the roof being built with a short hip section.
  • Eave Details - The part of a roof which projects out from the side wall, projecting the edge of the roof.
  • Fascia - Horizontal band or board that runs along the eaves of a roof.
  • Flashing - Metal strips, used to prevent water seepage, and installed around chimney, vents, windows, doors, and skylights, along seams in the roof and beneath shingles. The purpose of flashing is to prevent the penetration of water as well as to provide a drainage passageway between joints, most commonly the joint between a roof and a wall.
  • Gables - Roof sections facing in separate direction from the actual roof, forming a triangular wall segment. They are often used as an opening for a window.
  • Hip - When two roofing planes form a fold or vertical ridge.
  • Rake - The inclined portion of a cornice. They can be close or extended.
  • Re-roofing - The procedure of installing a new roof system.
  • Ridge Shingles - Shingles used to cover the horizontal external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.
  • Roof Deck - That component in building construction, which forms a platform on which the remainder of the B.U.R.M. components are placed.
  • Roof Dormers - A section that extends up from the main roofline and forms a miniature house, containing a window, lights, walls, and a roof.
  • Roof Run - The vertical rise of a roof over a certain horizontal distance (run).
  • Roof Sheathing - Flat boards which are nailed to the rafters on the top of a house, to which tar paper and then shingles are attached.
  • Roof Truss - A triangular structure used to support a roof. Multiple trusses are used to assemble the framework for a roof.
  • Roof - The exterior surface on the top of a building.
  • Valley - When two roofing planes meet at the bottom of their pitch to form a valley.
  • Wall Dormers - A section that extends up from the main roofline and looks much like a gable, but with walls.

Roof Pitch

  • Low Slope - Roof pitches that are less than 30 degrees.
  • Normal Slope - Roof pitches that are between 30 and 45 degrees.
  • Steep Slope - Roof pitches that are more than 45 degrees.

Roof Styles

  • Barrel Roof - A roof configuration with a partial cylindrical shape to it..
  • Built Up Roof - Roof composed of multiple layers of asphalt felt laminated with coal tar, pitch or asphalt with a top layer of crushed slag or gravel. Normally issued on flat roofs or those with very slight slope.
  • Butterfly Roof - A roof assembly which pitches sharply from either side toward the center.
  • Gambrel - A roof that has two different pitches.
  • Pavilion Roof - Hip roof with the length of both hips being equal.
  • Pyramid Roof - Roof having four triangular sides forming a point at the top of a pyramid. A pyramid roof is primarily used for steeples on top of churches or certain public buildings.

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Asphalt Shingle Roofing

Asphalt Shingle Roofing

Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used roofing material in North America mainly because they are economical and versatile, work well on steep-sloped roofs, are sunlight and weather resistant, require little-to-no maintenance and are reasonably priced. In addition, asphalt shingles are also easy to cut, fasten, and fit, as well as being compatible with many different kinds of flashing and edging products.

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