Roofing Terms

Below you will see some terms roofing contractors use along with descriptions and photos.  It is important that you know your way around a roof if you are going to Do-It-Yourself or hire a contractor.
We begin with a basic roof structure.

1. Dormer 2. Dutch Gable 3. Hip 4. Ridge 5. Valley

1. Dormer
2. Dutch Gable
3. Hip
4. Ridge
5. Valley

Here are some common terms:

Barge Rafter

Typically a 2×6 or larger dimension board used at the edge of a roof. The wood used is usually Hem Fir or Spruce.

BARGE RAFTER-roofer

Here Mike Reynolds and Steve Jobe have remove an old dry rotten Barge Rafter and are replacing it with a new pre-painted one. The best time to do this work is during the re-roofing process. Some customers choose to pre-paint this wood because it is easier to paint these boards on saw horse on the ground than it is to paint up on a ladder.

Bleeder

A strip of asphalt material along the rake.

bleeder

The bleeder strip here is along the rake under the asphalt shingles. It creates a nice straight look from the ground looking up and adds another layer of protection in the roofing system. Here we used 9 inch roll provided.

Burnout

The term where felt {tar paper} has had UV rays of the sun deteriorate the material and actually burn a hole through it. This is seen on cedar shake roofs allot when a cedar shake has split or crack near a key way leaving the felt exposed.

Compo

A composition shingle made of asphalt and fiberglass mat with ceramic coated granules embedded on the surface. Superior products have reinforcement weave also in the asphalt too insure a high performance shingle.
Compo is a west coast slang for composition asphalt shingles. These shingles have improved very much in the last ten years in durability and in looks. They have many colors to choose from with many designs from the traditional dimensional look to a thicker shake look or a slate designs. There are some nice products out there to look at. By creating shadows lines, laminating mats together and color choices, the designs are unlimited.

Class A, B or C

 classification given by laboratories that test roofing products for fire ratings. All roofs being applied must meet a minimum class C fire rating in California. Most asphalt shingles and tile roofs are rated at A. Metal roofs can achieve a A, or a B rating and Cedar Shakes can be A, B and most commonly Class C ratings.

Cricket

An area behind a chimney or wall that has a slope designed to move water away and down the roof.

Diverter

This metal strip serves as a water diversion, to move the water on the roof away from a opening where gutters cannot or were not installed.
This is an example of a diverter used to move water away from an opening and directed down the roof to a gutter else where.

Double Felt

Double felting a deck is done typically on low sloped roofs under 4 and 12 pitch where shingles are to be applied.
On lower sloped roofs under 4 and 12 pitch it is required to use two layers of underlayment when the roof cover is a shingle applixation. This shake roof 3 1/2 pitch porch is being prepared with a 15 lb 36 inch layer of felt and then a 30 lb shake liner is applied on top to acquire the "double felt".

Downspout

The vertical trough connected to the gutter to remove water from it.

Dormer

A small gable or shed roof in the middle of a larger roof {see #1}
This is a shed roof or dormer on the backside of a cedar shake roof done by my crew in Sacramento California. We installed shakes on the walls as well, as you can see, to make a totally sealed dormer. It is hard to see but we also used a copper strip across the  top coarse of shakes to control the algee from growing on this 12 and 12 pitch roof.

Dormer Vent

A sheet metal exhaust vent installed on top of the roof to ventilate the attic.
Here you see Mike Rice roofing around a dormer vent with GAF Grand Seqouia Shingles. Dormer vents are one way to ventilate an attic. These exhaust vents draw the air from a hot attic in the summer months helping keep  the underside of the shingles cool as required by the manufacturers.

Deflection

Sagging of the roof framing members.
This old barn has seen better days. It is an example of how wood deflects or bends when not properly supported. One way to support rafters is by installing a purlin, or even a beam. In this case wall ties would have stopped this sagging. Here the wall facing you and the one opposite it is actually being forced outwardly by the roof. Having the two walls tied together with lumber would have stopped this.

Dry Rot

Deterioration of wood fibers caused by moisture intrusion for a long period of time. Many times dry rot on the roof can go undiscovered for years. That is why roof tear offs are so important to do and not a recover.
This occurs when moisture continually is in contact with wood fibers. This can be from a leaking roof damaging the roof deck or eaves and rafter tails that are unprotected. A  fungi or mold can grow destroying the wood, drying it out making it brittle and crumbly. This is why a tear off is important to include when re-roofing you home. Going over such mold can be bad for the house and possibly your health.

Dutch Gable

A combination of a hip style roof and a gable. {see 2}
The photo below is a hip / gable combo roof and has a slightly different look.

Eave

The area of roof that overhangs the lower edge.

Eave Vents

Small screens under the eave that allow fresh air to enter the atic.

Exposure

This term is used for the area of roofing material that is exposed to the weather.

This is one of many old photos in my collection. Notice the shingle is 18 inches long, tucking under 3 courses but the exposure is only 4-1/2 inches. This is what the term exposure means. The part that the weather conditions effect.

This is one of many old photos in my collection. Notice the shingle is 18 inches long, tucking under 3 courses but the exposure is only 4-1/2 inches. This is what the term exposure means. The part that the weather conditions effect.

Felt

This is some times call “tar paper” and is a moisture barrier to protect the roof deck. This is used in most roofing systems.

Flashing

A corrosion resistant metal designed to terminate roofing at walls, chimney’s or penetrations through the roof. The bare metal before painting would glare in the eyes of a roofer and flashes of sunlight originates this name.

Fascia

{Fay-sha} The horizontal board attached to the eaves rafter tails

Fiber Cement Shakes/Slate

A class A roofing material designed to look like shakes made with portland light weight cement and wood fibers.
The industry slang for this type of product is Fake Shake. Over the years there have been many types of "fake shakes" produced but most have failed and have left the market place. One of the latest attempts at a shake look is this roof shown here EverShake. It is a solid synthetic construction from polymers, west-coast sand, and bituminous oils as the binders. As you can seen it conforms to even a hip as long as it is a warm day.

Gutters

Rain gutters are attached to the eave of the roof and catch rain water, controlling the roof drainage run off.

Many of our customers are very pleased to have that extra touch of pre-painted seamless gutters. It adds a fresh clean look to go along with your new roof.  Traditional gutters come in 7 1/4" & 5 1/2" fascia & the 5 1/2" OGEE style gutters in brown & white baked on enamel for a long life outside & inside the gutter.

Many of our customers are very pleased to have that extra touch of pre-painted seamless gutters. It adds a fresh clean look to go along with your new roof. Traditional gutters come in 7 1/4″ & 5 1/2″ fascia & the 5 1/2″ OGEE style gutters in brown & white baked on enamel for a long life outside & inside the gutter.

Gable

The triangular roof shape at the end of a building {see#3}

This picture shows a gable end of a house that we remodeled, removing the low slope to a 5 and 12 pitch roof.

This picture shows a gable end of a house that we remodeled, removing the low slope to a 5 and 12 pitch roof.

High Definition Ridge

A fiberglass roofing product made for hips and ridges on asphalt shingled roofs.
This is a high definition ridge cap that is being blind nailed with 2 inch comp nails. Blind nailing is a term used for nailing a shingle or in this case a ridge cap then covering the nail with next course so it is not seen.

Hip

The convex junction of two adjacent roof plains. {see # 3}

Joist

A ceiling is nailed to this framing members. These are also used to tie walls together.

Loading

Delivering the roofing material from the street to the rooftop.

Loading the roof is the term for the delivery of materials to the roof-top. This can be done with a lift bed truck or a large conveyor as seen here. Most companies use local distributors that keep a wide variety of roofing products.

Loading the roof is the term for the delivery of materials to the roof-top. This can be done with a lift bed truck or a large conveyor as seen here. Most companies use local distributors that keep a wide variety of roofing products.

Modified Bitumen

Low pitch roofing product sold in rolls usually applied with a torch.

For low sloped roofs we have used a modified bitumen product. It is  a single ply system with very good durability. A base sheet is attached to the roof deck, then we apply the modified to the base sheet using a torch to melt the modified bitumen. All edges and lap are seal

For low sloped roofs we have used a modified bitumen product. It is a single ply system with very good durability. A base sheet is attached to the roof deck, then we apply the modified to the base sheet using a torch to melt the modified bitumen. All edges and lap are seal

Nosing or Drip Edge

The pre-fold edge metal installed along the eaves and rakes of the roof.

Outrigger

2″ x 4″ framing to support a barge rafter.
These out riggers are some times call outllooks. They support the rake or barge rafters.

OSB

An alternative to plywood used for roof decking. Oriented Strand Board is made from wood chips oriented and gued in layers. It is heavier than plywood becuase there are no voids. This makes a great roof deck because of it’s density and shear value.

Pitch

The slope of a roof. The term four and twelve means four inches of rise in a twelve inch span.

Purlin

A brace placed in the attic to support the rafters.
The purlin is a structual member that supports the roof rafters. It is a brace under rafters that is supported by struts down too a barring wall. This purlin is being added since these garage rafters on this home are over span for a tile roof conversion.

Plywood

Sheets of thin flat wood laminated together into four by eight foot sheets used for roof decking.
Here is a shot of some of my guys in 1988. Matt Hatala and Todd Miller are re-sheathing a shake tear off preping it for asphalt shingles. Notice the big bulky cell phone, I loved that old panasonic.

Rake

The edge of a gable.

Rafter

The framework the the roof decking is nailed to.

In the re-roofing business we find all kinds of problems, below is a repair we did to a sagging garage roof. Here Tommy Silva is finishing up the valley rafter and getting ready to fame the common rafters on this project.

In the re-roofing business we find all kinds of problems, below is a repair we did to a sagging garage roof. Here Tommy Silva is finishing up the valley rafter and getting ready to fame the common rafters on this project.

Ridge

The top or peak of the roof. {see #4}

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.

Solar Brackets

This term is a homemade term of mine for a hidden bracket that is attached to the roof without holes in your new roofing system.
When installing a new roof with solar units it is a good idea to have brackets installed into the roofing system that allows the units to be bolted onto a frame. This keeps your manufacturer's warranties intacked and keeps the solar units from being bolted directly through your new roof that could cause leaks.

Solid Sheeting

This term is for discribing a solid deck that has plywood or OSB on it.

Sidewall

Shinglers use this word for a wall with cedar shingles applied to it.

I have made a good living doing sidewall shingles and repairs to historic buildings like this one. For years cedar shingles have served as great exterior wall covering giving this style of home a charm about it with custom designs like this diamond cut shingle and bent corners.

I have made a good living doing sidewall shingles and repairs to historic buildings like this one. For years cedar shingles have served as great exterior wall covering giving this style of home a charm about it with custom designs like this diamond cut shingle and bent corners.

Skip Sheeting

Typically 1 x 4’s spaced ace the roof deck. This sheeting is used when cedar shakes and shingles are installed.

The deck of a roof is typically proected by underlayment or what the roofing inustry calls felt. It is an asphalt product that is used as a moisture barrier and is used with almost all types of roofing systems. Here Jeff McCrickard is using the preferred 22 inch felt for a shake roof.

The deck of a roof is typically proected by underlayment or what the roofing inustry calls felt. It is an asphalt product that is used as a moisture barrier and is used with almost all types of roofing systems. Here Jeff McCrickard is using the preferred 22 inch felt for a shake roof.

Square

The term square is used as a measurement. 100 square foot or ten by ten.

Step Shingles

A corrosion resistant peice of metal that is bent to a 90 degree angle weaved into the shingles at walls, skylights and chimney’s.
From my collection of old drawings and photos I wanted to share this design from the "old school" way of doing things. If it has worked for hundreds of years why change it? This shows step flashing laced with slate at the wall. Then a counter flashing is embedded in the block wall covering the step flashing. This is a must on any shingle type applications.

Tar and Gravel

3-plies of roofing material hot mopped in layers to the roof deck primarily on low sloped roofs below 2 and 12. This is covered with gravel to protect the roof material from UV sun rays.
It is common to see the flat or low pitch roofs with tar and gravel roofing. The BUR {biult up roof} roof has typically three, hot mopped layers and then tiny rock spread over the last layer to protect the roofing system from the UV rays of the sun. Below is one of the best employees ever work with. Here Tavio is removing a Tar and Gravel roof.

Tile, Clay or Concrete

A clay roofing system.

Here is a tile roof that is very unique. It is cap and pan or mission tile. The style you see here is ment to look like the old missions of early California. This roofing tile is made from clay and is being installed over a low slope roofing product.

Here is a tile roof that is very unique. It is cap and pan or mission tile. The style you see here is ment to look like the old missions of early California. This roofing tile is made from clay and is being installed over a low slope roofing product.

Tubular Skylight

A natural light system using a reflective tube to carry the light into the home.

Turbine

This is some times called a whirly-bird and is used to exhaust hot attic air.
This is a type of attic ventilation when spinning, sucks the hot air out of the attic.

Underlayment

A deck protection under most roofing systems.

The deck of a roof is typically proected by underlayment or what the roofing inustry calls felt. It is an asphalt product that is used as a moisture barrier and is used with almost all types of roofing systems. Here Jeff McCrickard is using the preferred 22 inch felt for a shake roof.

The deck of a roof is typically proected by underlayment or what the roofing inustry calls felt. It is an asphalt product that is used as a moisture barrier and is used with almost all types of roofing systems. Here Jeff McCrickard is using the preferred 22 inch felt for a shake roof.

Valley

Junction where to roof plains meet and water flows too. {see #5}

There are many different ways to install valleys with the many options of roofing products out there. Here is a picture of a 14:12 heavy shake with a roof valley. It is installed with 24 inch wide prepainted W valley metal. We call it W valley because it is formed in the shape of a W. Prior to installation we lay a 36 inch wide felt under the valley metal. The cedar shakes are angle cut to fit leaving a trough so water run downward. This type of system when properly installed will provide protection to the roof deck from moisture intrusion.

There are many different ways to install valleys with the many options of roofing products out there. Here is a picture of a 14:12 heavy shake with a roof valley. It is installed with 24 inch wide prepainted W valley metal. We call it W valley because it is formed in the shape of a W. Prior to installation we lay a 36 inch wide felt under the valley metal. The cedar shakes are angle cut to fit leaving a trough so water run downward. This type of system when properly installed will provide protection to the roof deck from moisture intrusion.

Ventilation

The term is used to describe the system to provide movement of fresh air into and out the attic.

Z-Bar

This is a termination bar that step shingles are designed to slip under.

Z-Bar is a term to describe a termination bar where step shingles are tuck under and make a water-tite counter flashing at a wall to roof area. This is used so siding or as in this picture stucco can be separate from the roofing system. This is ideal when a re-roof is done because there is no need to disturb the exiting wall covering to change the step flashings.

Z-Bar is a term to describe a termination bar where step shingles are tuck under and make a water-tite counter flashing at a wall to roof area. This is used so siding or as in this picture stucco can be separate from the roofing system. This is ideal when a re-roof is done because there is no need to disturb the exiting wall covering to change the step flashings.

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