Roofing 101: Common Terms Every Homeowner Should Know

Understanding the terminology associated with roofing can empower homeowners to make informed decisions about their roof maintenance, repairs, and replacements. Whether you’re planning a roof upgrade or simply want to better communicate with roofing professionals, familiarizing yourself with these common terms is essential. Today, we’ll explore key roofing terminology that every homeowner should know:

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material used in residential construction. They are durable, cost-effective, and available in a variety of styles and colors.


The underlayment is a water-resistant barrier installed beneath the roofing material. It provides an additional layer of protection against water infiltration and helps to prevent leaks.


Flashing is a thin, weatherproof material (usually metal) installed at roof joints, angles, and edges to prevent water penetration. Common flashing locations include around chimneys, skylights, vents, and dormers.


The ridge is the highest point of the roof where two sloping roof surfaces meet. Ridge vents are often installed along the ridge to allow for proper attic ventilation.


The eaves are the lower edges of the roof that overhang the exterior walls of the house. Eaves help to protect the walls from water runoff and provide shade to the building’s exterior.


The fascia is a vertical board that runs along the edge of the roof and supports the bottom edge of the roof’s shingles. It also provides a finished look to the roof’s edge.


The soffit is the underside of the eaves that extends from the fascia to the exterior wall of the house. Soffits are often vented to allow for airflow into the attic space.


A valley is the area where two roof slopes intersect and form a V-shaped trough. Specialized flashing called valley flashing is installed in these areas to channel water away from the roof.


A dormer is a small structure that protrudes from the roof, typically containing a window. Dormers are commonly used to add natural light and architectural interest to attic spaces.


Roof pitch refers to the slope or steepness of the roof surface. It is typically expressed as a ratio of vertical rise to horizontal run (e.g., 4:12 pitch means the roof rises 4 inches for every 12 inches of horizontal distance).


Roof decking, also known as sheathing, is the structural base layer of the roof to which roofing materials are attached. Common decking materials include plywood and oriented strand board (OSB).


A gable is the triangular portion of a wall between the edges of intersecting roof slopes. Gable roofs are characterized by their triangular shape and are one of the most common roof styles in residential construction.

The rake of the roof is the part that ends over a gable end.


A hip is the inclined external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof surfaces. Hip roofs are characterized by their gentle slopes on all sides and are often seen on traditional and cottage-style homes.


Roof ventilation refers to the process of allowing fresh air to circulate in the attic space, helping to regulate temperature and moisture levels. Proper ventilation is essential for prolonging the life of the roof and preventing moisture-related issues.


An abutment refers to the part of a roof where one structural component meets another, such as where a roof meets a wall or chimney. Proper flashing and sealing at abutments are essential to prevent water infiltration and maintain the integrity of the roof system.

Drip Edge

A drip edge is a metal flashing installed along the edges of the roof to direct water away from the fascia and into the gutters, preventing water damage and rot. It helps to protect the roof’s edges and prolong the lifespan of the roofing system.

Hipped Edge

A hipped edge refers to the sloping edge of a roof where two sloping roof surfaces meet, forming a hip. This area requires special attention to ensure proper flashing and sealing to prevent water infiltration and maintain the integrity of the roof system.


A roofing warranty is a guarantee provided by the manufacturer or installer that covers defects in materials and/or workmanship for a specified period. It’s important to understand the terms and conditions of your roofing warranty to ensure proper coverage.

By familiarizing yourself with these common roofing terms, you can communicate effectively with roofing professionals, better understand your roof’s components and maintenance needs, and make informed decisions to protect your home investment. Whether you’re planning a roof repair, replacement, or routine maintenance, having a basic understanding of roofing terminology will serve you well as a homeowner.

Atlanta Roofing Specialists is a full service residential and commercial roofing contractor serving Metro Atlanta Georgia since 1993. Schedule your no-obligation estimate today at (770) 419-2222.

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