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Roofing Terminology

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Parts of a Roof

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Before you can accurately understand a roof assessment or a roofing estimate, you should be familiar with roofing terminology. Below are some commonly used terms that identify parts of a roof and types of roofing.

Built-up Roof

A low-slope (or flat-seeming) roof covered with alternating layers of roofing felt and hot-mapped asphalt and topped off with a layer of gravel.

Cornice

The portion of the roof projecting out from the side walls of the house.

Counterflashing

The flashing which is imbedded at its top in a wall or other vertical structure and is lapped down over shingle flashing.

Courses

Horizontal rows of shingles or tiles.

Drip

The strip of metal extending out beyond the eaves or rakes to prevent rainwater from rolling around the shingles back onto the wooden portion of the house.

Eaves

The lower edge of a roof (usually overhanging beyond the edge of the house).

Fascia

Trimboard behind the gutter and eaves.

Flashing

Sheet metal or other material used at junctions of different planes on a roof to prevent leakage.

Felt

The "tar paper" used by roofer, usually made of a combination of asphalt and either paper or rags.

Frieze Board

A Board at the top of the house's siding, forming a corner with the soffit.

Gable

The triangular upper part of a wall closing the end of a ridged roof

Hip

The external angle at the junction of two sides of a roof whose supporting walls adjoin.

Joist

In a flat roof, a horizontal structural member over which sheathing is nailed.

Rafter

A structural member (usually slanted) to which sheathing is nailed.

Rake

The slanting edge of a gabled roof extending beyond the end wall of the house.

Ridge

The horizontal line at the top edge of two sloping roof planes.

Sheathing

The rigid material (often 1-inch by 6-inch or one inch by twelve inch boards or sheets of plywood) which is nailed to the rafters, and to which shingles or other outside roofing materials are secured.

Shingle Flashing

Flashing that is laid in strips under each shingle and bent up the edge of a chimney or wall.

Slope

The number of inched of vertical rise in a roof per 12-inches of horizontal distance. Also referred to as pitch.

Soffit

The boards that enclose the underside of that portion of the roof which extends out beyond the sidewalls of the house.

Square

One hundred square feet of roof, or the amount of roofing material needed to cover 100 square feet when properly applied.

Underlayment

The material (usually roofing felt) laid on top of sheathing before shingles are applied. Valley The less-than 180-degree angle where two sloping roof sections come together. Valley Flashing The flashing in valleys, extending in under to shingles on both sides.

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