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Common Roofing Terminology

The tops of roofs against a blue sky.

If you live in a house with a roof, you can benefit from learning common roofing terminology. After all, regardless of whether you rent or own your home, there is a good chance you’ll have to deal with a roof repair at some point in your life. Being able to communicate well with your roof repair company can save a lot of time and confusion when your roof requires an inspection, needs a cleaning, or begins to leak.


Common Roofing Terminology

Material Terms

For those of you who need an entire new roof or just a spot repair, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with these material terms:

  • Deck: The surface to which professionals apply roofing materials is usually called the deck. Some people also refer to it as sheathing. The deck is usually made out of plywood.
  • Flashing: These pieces of metal prevent water from seeping into vent pipes, chimneys, and other areas on your roof.
  • Underlayment: Although some people call this material felt, it is actually an asphalt material that is thin like paper. It is a secondary layer of protection that keeps the roof deck safe.
  • Granules: These are bits of crushed rock on the surface of a shingle. When granules become damaged or loose, you’ll need to replace your shingles.
  • Vapor retarder: This material prevents water vapor from getting into the roof system.

Structure Terms

When it comes to the structure of your roof, here are some common terms that you might hear:

  • Dormer: A small structure (usually triangular shaped) that obtrudes from a sloped roof. Dormers often have windows, and look like miniature roofs themselves.
  • Drip edge: This L-shaped strip is usually metal. Professionals install it along the edge of your roof so water doesn’t drip onto your eaves, deck, or the side of your house.
  • Eave: The horizontal edge of a typical sloped roof.
  • Exposure: The top part of the single that you can see is called the exposure. Usually only half of the shingle is exposed, and the other half is covered by other shingles.
  • Penetrations: Sometimes people who work in the roofing industry will refer to things that protrude from roofs like vents, pipes, stacks, or chimneys as penetrations.
  • Rafters: The frame of a roof. Professionals attach decking on this part of the roof.
  • Ridge: The highest point of a sloped roof is called the peak. It is where the two sides of the roof meet.

Other Terms

When it comes to roofing terminology, there are some other miscellaneous terms to learn:

  • Fire rating: This system classifies the fire resistance levels of roofing materials. The fire rating system uses the letters A through C to rate the resistance, with letter A being the most resistant.
  • Hand Sealing: The method of sealing shingles by hand rather than machine. This practice takes more time, but it might be necessary for homes with steep roofs.
  • Ice dams: The buildup of ice near the edge of your roof that prevents melted water from draining into your gutters. If your roof has poor ventilation, ice dams can form, and these puddles of water can cause leaks.
  • Impact Resistance: The degree to which a roof can withstand impact from falling objects and foot traffic from repairs.


No matter how much you research about common roofing terminology, chances are you’ll still have some questions about certain words. Make sure you’re working with a roofing company that will help you understand the full scope of your roof repair. If you live in southern Missouri, contact Taylor-Made Roofing for help. With over 20 years of experience in residential and commercial roofing, Taylor-Made Roofing is a company that you can trust with all of your roofing needs. Our family-owned business offers quality services, a reassuring warranty, and free estimates. For more information, please give us a call at 417-326-8778 or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!

Fully licensed and insured, Taylor-Made Roofing is ready to take care of your roof.
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