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Parts of a Roof

Parts of a Roof

Understanding Roofing Terminology

Hips aren’t just a body part, they’re also parts of a roof! When hiring a roofing contractor to do work on your home, it’s best to brush up on all the different roofing terms you may expect to see included in an estimate. This way, you can understand more clearly what you’re getting.

At S&K Roofing, Siding & Windows, we want to make your next roofing project as easy and straightforward as possible! We know that roofers tend to use a lot of unique terms that anyone outside the industry wouldn’t be expected to know. When you choose us as your contractor, we’ll be happy to explain any confusing terms to you. To make it even easier, though, we’ve also compiled this guide to explain the different parts of a roof and what they all mean!

Ready to start your next roofing project or have any questions for our team? Contact S&K at (866) 836-7663 today to get started.

Defining the Terms

Below is a diagram showing a sample roofing and the parts that you should know about:

Roofing Terminology Resource


Have you ever noticed the pipes connected to your gutters that run to the ground? Those are the downspouts. They serve to take all the rainwater that’s collected in your gutters and direct it away from your home. Without a downspout, gutters would be functionally useless, as there would be nowhere for the water to go.

Drip Edge

The drip edge on a roof, sometimes referred to as just the drip, is a metal strip that extends beyond eaves or rakes. When it’s raining, the drip edge stops rain from rolling down the shingles and onto the wooden part of a house.


The lower edge of a roof that extends out over a home is the eaves. This is also typically where gutters are installed.


Do you know when a roof has trimming that gives it that “finished” look? That’s the fascias. They are boards that run along the edge of a roof, right beyond the gutters and eaves. High-quality fascia can add to a roof’s appeal significantly and can even raise property value.

Field of Roof System

The field of your roof refers to the area where the actual roofing material is installed. On any section of roof, there will be a field of roof. The field does not extend out past the perimeter or include the flashing.


Wherever there is a junction on your roof, such as where the chimney meets the roof, flashing is necessary to prevent any leaks. Flashing refers to a material, typically sheet metal, that is used to direct water away from any vertical surfaces that meet your roof. A specific type of flashing is chimney flashing, and this is needed to insulate heat around your chimney.


A gable roof is a type of roof wherein two sides of the roof slope downward over a wall. The triangular portion of the wall over which the two pieces of roof lay is referred to as the gable. 


Most homeowners are familiar with their gutters, especially if you’ve ever had to clean out a clogged gutter. Gutters are attached to the edges of the roof to collect rainwater so that it doesn’t damage the roof or home.


A hip roof is another type of roof. As opposed to a gable roof, all the sides of a hip roof will slope downward over a wall, so there will not be a gable. Therefore, a roof’s hips refer to the edges where two parts of a hip roof meet. To be referred to as a hip, it must be an external angle. The opposite of a hip is a valley.


While we can’t see the rafters when looking at a roof, they are one of the most important parts! Rafters are the support beams that run under a roof and are necessary for a roof to stay up. Most residential roofs use wooden rafters, but metal rafters can be used when a building, such as a high rise or factory, needs additional support.


If you have a gabled roof, the slanting edge of the roof that extends beyond the house is the rake. This will be the section of your roof that meets the rafters.


At the highest point of your roof, where the different sections of the roof meet, is the ridge. The ridge refers to the horizontal line that connects the sections of roof.


Sheathing, also referred to as roof decking, is a necessary structural component of any roof. It refers to a rigid material that is attached to the rafters. This material then serves as a nailbed to which the shingles and roof tiles are attached.


To finish a roof, soffits must be installed. Soffits are the boards that enclose the underside of a roof where it extends over a home. While they offer design appeal, they are also a necessary addition to insulate your home and keep out the elements and critters.


If you want to make sure your roof is weather-proofed, underlayment is the way this is done. Underlayment is installed between the roof’s shingles and the sheathing/decking. It will insulate your home and keep the rain and snow out.


When two roof slopes meet at an internal angle, this is referred to as a roof valley. It is essentially the opposite of a hip. To be considered a valley, the angle at which the two roofs meet should be less than 180 degrees.

Vent Pipe

You may not think that your roof has anything to do with your plumbing system, but think again. If you’ve ever noticed the pipes on top of your roof and wondered what they are, those are the vent pipes. It serves to regulate the air pressure in your pipes and let any gases from your sewer exit the house.

Choose S&K for Roofing in VA, MD & DC

When you’re looking to have a new roof installed, turn to S&K Roofing, Siding & Windows! We are a family-owned and -operated company that provides top-quality roofing services to homes and businesses throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC. When you choose to work with us, we will always provide honest advice, reliable recommendations, and superior service.

Ready to get started on your roofing project? Contact S&K at (866) 836-7663 to request an estimate for a home or business in Virginia, Maryland, or DC.