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    Roofing Terms: Roof Components and their meaning with Brent Simmons

    The roofing industry, like many industries, can appear strange and complicated if you haven’t spent much time educating yourself on the ways that roofing companies operate. We’re talking about roofing terms.

    According to Brent Simmons, the co-host of Roofing Insights and the owner of Restoration Roofing in Memphis, Tennessee, encountering clients who are confounded by the various roofing terms is normal.

    “In every industry, there’s always jargon or a certain language that the people in that industry speak, and unless you work in that industry, you have no idea what these people are talking about,”

    Simmons says.

    Thankfully, Simmons is one of the foremost experts when it comes to the technicalities involved in roofing, and in this article, he is going to break down and simplify some common roofing terms in order to better understand their meaning.

    1. Slope

    A slope is measured by pitch, and what slope ultimately determines is the gradience of your roof.

    “You may hear your roofers talk about a 9:12 pitch or a 10:12 pitch, which would describe the steepness of the roof. The higher the number, the steeper the roof is,”

    says Simmons.

    2. Eave

    “This is the horizontal edge of the roof and this is where you’ll have drip edge installed, plus the starter strip. This is where the roofers actually start the shingling process,”

    explains Simmons.

    3. Rake

    The rake is the sloped part of the edge of the roof.

    “You can have drip edge and a starter strip here,”

    notes Simmons.

    4. Gable

    A gable is shaped like a triangle and is where two rakes meet.

    “If you look at the big triangle on the side of your house, you’ll see a vent. That is a gable vent on the side of your gable,”

    Simmons mentions.

    5. Rafter tail

    Please note: your eaves are made up of a few different roofing materials.

    Explains Simmons:

    “First of all, you usually have a rafter tail and that’s where the actual framing ends. It hangs over part of the house and you have fascia and soffit,”

    says Simmons.

    “Fascia is what’s behind the gutters.

    6. Valleys

    Roof slopes primarily meet in a few different ways and are often characterized in three different terms:

    • Woven valleys
    • No-cut valleys
    • Open valleys

    7. Ridge

    This is where two slopes meet at the peak of your roof. It is also where roofing technicians will install a particular type of shingle known as ridge caps.

    8. Hips

    “Just like at the ridge, two slopes are joined together, but instead of joining in, they join out,”

    says Simmons.

    “Instead of having metal or shingles woven together, hips actually just meet and then we put more ridge cap shingles over them. This is what forms your ridge cap.”


    Before we go any further, now that you understand some basic terminology of roofing, Simmons also says there is one critical piece of information that every homeowner should be aware of because it has a direct impact on the price of your roof replacement.

    “You may hear your roofer say that your roof is nineteen squares. That’s just our way of measuring the size of a roof. If you take one square and multiply it by one hundred, that gives you the square footage. A nineteen-square roof is actually 1,900 square feet,”

    Simmons says.

    Now, let’s get back to the list of roofing terms!

    9. Rafter

    The rafter is key because it is a foundational piece to your home’s roof.

    “This is the structure behind the actual roof. This is what holds everything up,”

    says Simmons.

    10. Roof decking

    When roofing technicians install a roof, they drive nails directly into the roof, right into the roof decking.

    Roof decking is comprised of either OSB or plywood.

    Roofing Insights has already covered whether OSB or plywood is the better option for your home!

    Check out that video right now!

    11. Moisture barriers

    The moisture barriers simulate a stud wall, and this is also where siding is installed.

    “This is the outside wall of your house that all of your James Hardie siding is nailed to,”

    says Simmons, before adding that these barriers also contain sheathing.

    “Usually on the outside of this sheathing you’re going to have some type of moisture barrier like a Tyvek house wrap.”

    To this point, we have covered the most common roofing terms, but before we go, Brent Simmons and Roofing Insights would like to share some quick information about flashings and the role they can play in your home.

    First, it should be noted that there are a few different types of flashings:

    12. Pipe boot

    “This is used to seal off the PVC or the round pipes that are coming out of your roof,”

    notes Simmons.

    13. Step flashing

    This piece of roofing equipment is designed to serve as flashing at any point where your roof meets a wall or chimney.

    “If this is up against a brick wall or a brick chimney, there’s going to be another piece of metal on top of that. That’s called a counter flashing,”

    says Simmons.

    “Water can still come down and get behind the flashing. That’s why we install counter flashing on top that’s either cut into the brick or has a bead of sealant to stop water from seeping through.”

    Are there any roofing terms that Roofing Insights did not cover?

    Let them know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to subscribe to all of Roofing Insights’ social media channels so you never miss any of their upcoming content!

    Quentin Super
    Senior Copywriter at Roofing Insights, author of the internationally-selling book The Long Road North, founder of quentinsuper.com

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