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Common Roofing Terms Explained

Whether you are simply performing research, talking to a roofing contractor, or starting a roofing project, you'll hear a lot of new terms. In many cases, these terms are not actually explained in articles or when you are talking to someone within the roofing industry.

With that, you will likely be left confused after talking to them, and you might do your own research. You don't have to do much in the way of research because we have provided the standard roofing terms you should know in this article. You'll find the definitions of all the common roofing terms people use daily. Keep reading to learn more about these terms.

1. Roof Decking (Roof Sheathing)

This is a wooden foundation that serves as a platform. This platform forms the base on which every other roof component is nailed onto. There are two critical types of roof decking that you should know. These are the plank decking and the sheet decking. As the name suggests, plank decking comprises wooden planks, while sheet decking can be plywood or OSB (Oriented Strand Board).

The critical thing you should note about roof decks is that they should be kept dry all the time so that they don't end up getting rotted. If this happens, you'll need to get a replacement, which might cost you a lot of money.

2. Roof Flashing

Flashing is a metallic material that is installed in metal roofing to serve as a channel for water. It helps to remove water from certain roof parts, like roof valleys, chimneys, and walls.

You should know the three types of roof flashing: counter, apron, and step flashing. In addition, these flashings can be made from different metallic materials, but the most commonly used materials are copper, steel, and aluminum.

3. Roof Underlayment

This is a felt or synthetic material that contractors install on the roof sheathing or decking. They are designed to serve as an extra protective layer for the roof decking to prevent water from coming in contact with the shingles.

4. Ice And Water Shield

This feature serves as a waterproof membrane that offers protection against damage caused by ice and water. There are different types of ice and water shields that you should know; the common ones are smooth high heat and granular/sand surface shields. The main thing to note about ice and water shields is that they will be installed around key roof areas. These key areas are roof valleys, the roof itself, low sloping roofs, and around penetrations.

5. Rakes And Eaves

These are the terms used in describing the roof's edge. It's worth noting that rakes refer to the part that runs at the slope, while eaves refer to the part that runs horizontally, like a gutter line.

6. Roof Facets

These are entirely different sections on a roof that you should know, and they are basically the sides of the roof. It's worth noting that this is a more complicated part, and the roof is considered more complex for a roof with more facets.

7. Roofing Square

This is a measurement unit that is used a lot in the roofing industry, and it's a factor that determines costs and the number of materials required to complete a job. Basically, a square describes a hundred square feet of roofing area.

8. Prorated And Non-Prorated

These roofing terminologies are used in describing the material warranty from the manufacturer. If the material warranty is prorated, it means that it will lose its value every year or as the material becomes older. On the other hand, if the material warranty is non-prorated, the material maintains its value even after many years. This is one of the first things people check when buying roofing materials.

9. Roof Valleys And Hips

Roof valleys comprise roof facets that meet in a manner that forms a slope and creates an interior angle. This permits water to flow down the roof correctly. Roof hips, on the other hand, are facets that meet at the slope and create an exterior angle.

10. Gable

This is a triangular section below the two facets hanging over a wall. Many people call it the ventilation spot or the gable end vent.

11. Drip Edge

This metallic component is nailed chiefly to the decking, particularly towards the edge of the roofline. The component is designed to ensure that water runs off the roof without wetting the decking.

12. Fascia

The fascia is mostly installed below the eaves and the rakes of the roofline. This is more of a decorative component because the purpose it serves is the same as that of the drip edge.

13. Soffit

It is mainly installed under the fascia, which is towards the part where the roof overhangs a wall. Roofers usually like to install an intake vent close to the soffit.

14. Dormer

This part of the roof usually has a window, and it juts out to create a section with its own mini roof.

15. Starter Shingles

This pre-cut row is installed close to the eaves and rakes of a shingle roof. It's usually just before the first set of shingles are installed on them. These typically have adhesive features so that the first row of shingles is appropriately sealed, and the aim is to augment their resistance to strong wind and other harsh weather conditions.

16. Roof Pitch

Roof pitch is used to describe the roof's steepness and is structured using an x/12 fashion. In this case, x represents the rise, while 12 represents the run. Therefore, if the pitch is 3/12, it means that it will rise by 3 feet (0.9m) over 12 feet (3.7m) length.

17. Caulk

This describes a sealant that professionals use whenever they want to seal a leaky roof or other roofing system components. It's worth noting that a roofing issue that is corrected with caulk can last a couple of years.

18. Roof Cricket

This feature is sloped and usually forms a double triangular structure. It is designed to help in channeling water around the walls and chimneys. When water goes down the roof, it comes in contact with the roof cricket, and this causes it to split to each side of the chimney rather than fall on the walls of the chimney.

19. Flat Roofs

As the name so obviously implies, this roofing system is flat at the top, unlike the common types you'll find around that are mostly pitched and pointing upwards. Flat roofing is mainly found in hot and dry climatic regions. The impressive thing about this type of roofing system is that even though it may appear flat, it is designed to allow rainwater to run off on one side.

20. Pinched Roofs

This is the complete opposite of flat roofs. Most roofing contractors prefer to use this type of roof on buildings. Pinched roofs have a noticeable download slope, unlike flat roofs. Also, it's worth noting that the slope is mainly from a central ridge and an angle.

This roofing system usually has different sizes, and its steepness also varies. However, the common thing is that their slopes are designed to direct excess rainwater off the roof. Another impressive thing to note about pinched roofs is that they offer better resistance against harsh climatic conditions like snow, storms, and ice.

21. Insulation

Insulation is a feature that is placed within the roof cavity, and it's designed to provide sufficient insulation for the property. Insulation is a vital feature that helps control heat retention and reduce heating bills.

One of the key things to note about insulation is that your property’s insulation will need to be re-evaluated every six years. Some of the most commonly utilized insulating materials include acoustic wool, glass wool, sheep's wool, and mineral wool. If you're unsure about the kind of insulation on your roof system, you should contact a professional roofing service to guide you.

22. Substrate

This is the material found at the roof's core part and primarily serves as the base of the roofing system. The type of substrate you include in your property depends on size, style, and preference.

You should note that substrate materials must be resistant to moisture to effectively stop mold growth on the roof and prevent dampness. The most common choices for substrate include concrete, wood, timber boards, and plywood.

23. Joints

These are components that are designed to hold the roof together. They serve as a connecting point joining the roof and the ceiling and are usually below the adjoining walls. They are generally wooden horizontal beams that lie flat or pinch upwards.

24. Cladding

Cladding is the outer layer of the roof, and it's designed to protect the external elements by creating a watertight cover on the roofing system. Roof cladding comes in different shapes and sizes and can be made from other materials.

Also, they are designed to ensure the house's safety, especially from fire and harsh weather and temperature regulation. Roof cladding also helps minimize unwanted noise, which is why they are called roof sheets sometimes.

25. Roofing Contract

This legal document binds a roofer to fulfill their promises and deliver their job efficiently. Today, you'll find that most experienced contractors tend to have more extended contracts. However, a vast majority of roofing contracts are straightforward.

There are many reasons why a roofing contract is required. Some of the benefits of a roofing contract include the following:

  • It helps ensure a proper and precise payment schedule to guarantee that the contractor is protected from claims.
  • The roofing contract gives homeowners peace of mind and the certainty that the contractor is legitimate. The contract specifies the work the contractor is to deliver and the price for the services they render.
  • A roofing contract allows the contractor to ascertain whether the property owner fully understands the different warranties and how they are protected should a problem arise in the near future.

Many people usually mistake a proposal for a contract, but it's vital to note that they are different. The proposal is more of a marketing document that specifies everything the roofer will do and how much they will charge for roof repairs or roof replacement, as the case may be. On the other hand, a contract is a legal document that binds the roofer to all the promises they make and ensures that they get paid for the services they render.

Now You Know Roofing Jargon!

This article has elaborated on the top roofing terms you should know. Many other roofing terms are used daily, but with this, you can be sure that you'll understand most of what the contractor will tell you if you are planning a roofing project. Additionally, you can reach out to a roofing expert in your locality if you need further assistance understanding the terminology involved or simply want help regarding a new roof or roofing repair.

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