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Roofing Glossary: Homeowner's Guide to Roofing Terminology.

Updated: Feb 12

Whether you're considering roof repairs or replacements, it's crucial to have a good grasp of the specialized terminology used in the roofing industry. At Refined Home Services, our mission is to empower our clients with knowledge, so we've put together this comprehensive roofing glossary to assist you in navigating the roofing world.

Roofing Glossary of Terms
Commonly used roofing terms to improve your communication with roofers.

About this Roofing Glossary

This roofing glossary serves as a general reference guide to roofing terms and is not intended to be an exhaustive list. The roofing industry is diverse, and roofing terms may vary by region or specific roofing practices. While we have strived to include a comprehensive range of terms, it's essential to acknowledge that regional variations or specialized jargon may not be covered here. We encourage you to consult local roofing professionals for precise and region-specific roof structure terminology. This glossary provides a solid foundation for understanding roofing concepts and empowering you to make informed decisions about your roofing needs.


Caulk is a flexible material used to seal joints and gaps in the roof, preventing water intrusion. It's often applied around flashing, vents, and other penetrations to maintain a watertight seal.


A cricket, also known as a saddle or diverter, is a small peaked structure installed behind a chimney or other roof obstruction. It redirects water around the obstruction to prevent water from pooling and causing leaks.

Composite Roofing

Composite roofing is a composite material made from various materials, such as asphalt, fiberglass, and mineral granules. It offers durability and is known for its versatility.


A cupola is a small, dome-like structure often placed on top of a roof for decorative purposes. It may also provide ventilation and natural light to the building's interior.


Roof decking refers to the surface covering the rafters and forming the roofing materials' base. Common materials for roof decking include plywood or oriented strand board (OSB).


Dormers are small structures that project from a sloped roof, often equipped with windows. They serve various purposes, from creating additional usable space in lofts to introducing a window opening within the roof plane. Dormers have been utilized in architectural design since the 16th century.


Downspouts are vertical pipes connected to the gutter system that carry rainwater from the gutters down to the ground or a drainage system. They help ensure efficient water disposal.


The eave is the lower edge of the roof overhang, extending beyond the walls of your home or building. This overhang acts as a protective shield for your walls against rainwater and guides water flow into gutters. It also helps safeguard pathways from rain, preventing erosion of the building's foundation.

Elastomeric Roofing

Elastomeric roofing refers to roofing systems and materials that have elastomeric properties, meaning they can stretch and return to their original shape. This elasticity makes them ideal for roofs in regions with extreme temperature fluctuations.

Elastomeric Roof Coating

Elastomeric roof coatings are flexible, weather-resistant materials applied to the roof's surface to extend its lifespan and enhance its performance. They can help reduce energy costs and protect against UV damage.


Fascia is the vertical board that runs along the roof's lower edge, just behind the eave. It provides a neat, finished appearance to the edge of the roof and supports the gutter system.

Fascia Board

The fascia board is a long, straight board located at the eave's edge, supporting the gutter system. It provides a clean, finished look to the roofline and helps protect the roof's edge.

Felt Underlayment

Felt underlayment, often called roofing felt or tar paper, is a protective layer installed between the roof deck and the roofing material. It provides an extra barrier against moisture and helps prevent leaks.


Flashing is a crucial element for maintaining a watertight roof. Typically made of metal, flashing is installed around intersections or projections in a roof system, such as chimneys, vent pipes, valleys, and wall joints. Its primary purpose is to enhance roof durability, prevent leaks, and mitigate indoor mold issues.

Flashing Cement

Flashing cement, also known as roofing cement or mastic, is a thick, sticky substance used to seal and secure flashing materials in place. It provides an additional layer of protection against water infiltration around roof penetrations.

Flat Roof

A flat roof is a type of roof with little to no slope. It's commonly found in commercial buildings and modern residential architecture. Proper drainage is essential for flat roofs to prevent water pooling.


A gable is the triangular portion of a wall that is enclosed by the sloping roof on either side. Gable roofs are a common architectural style characterized by their steeply pitched triangular shape.

Gable Vent

Gable vents are openings in the gable wall of a home or building. They provide ventilation to the attic, helping to regulate temperature and moisture levels.

Green Building

Green building practices involve using sustainable materials and construction techniques to reduce the environmental impact of a building. Green roofing options, such as green roofs and solar panels, are popular choices for environmentally conscious homeowners.

Green Roof

A green roof, also known as a living roof, is a roof partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium. It offers environmental benefits, including improved insulation and stormwater management.


Gutters are troughs attached to the edge of the roof that collect rainwater and direct it away from the building's foundation. Properly functioning gutters are essential for preventing water damage to your home.

Roofing Terms
Roofing Terminology Glossary By Refined Home Services

Hail Damage

Hail damage refers to the harm caused to roofing materials by hailstones during severe weather events. It can result in dented or cracked shingles, compromising the roof's integrity. Regular inspections are essential to identify and address hail damage promptly.

Ice Dam

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of the roof, typically caused by melting snow refreezing near the eaves. Ice dams can lead to water infiltration under shingles, causing damage to the roof and interior spaces.

Impact-Resistant Shingles

Impact-resistant shingles are designed to withstand the impact of hail, falling branches, or other debris without sustaining significant damage. They can provide added protection to your roof in areas prone to severe weather.

Membrane Roofing

Membrane roofing refers to roofing materials in large rolls or sheets, such as EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) or TPO (thermoplastic olefin). They are commonly used for low-slope or flat roofs.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing involves using metal panels or shingles for roofing purposes. It's prized for its longevity, energy efficiency, and resistance to weathering.


A parapet is a low wall or barrier along the edge of a flat or low-slope roof. It serves both aesthetic and safety purposes, preventing people from accidentally stepping off the roof.


Penetrations are easily recognizable due to roof deck punctures caused by various additions, such as vent pipes, chimneys, or lead stacks. Properly managed penetrations are sealed off to prevent wind, rain, and pests from infiltrating these areas.


Roof pitch refers to the degree of inclination of the roof. It tells you how many inches the roof rises for every 12 inches of horizontal distance. Roofs typically slope downward from a central ridge, with pitch angles determining their overall design and functionality.


Rafters play a critical role in roofing. They constitute the supporting framework to which the roof deck attaches. Typically constructed from wood in residential structures, rafters extend from various parts of a building, including the eave. Exposed rafters are a characteristic feature of certain traditional roof styles.


The rake is the sloped edge of a gable roof, extending from the eave to the ridge. Rakes can be decorated with trim, providing an important aesthetic feature to the roof's design.

Ridge Vent

A ridge vent is a specialized ventilation system installed at the peak of the roof. It allows hot and humid air to escape from the attic, helping regulate temperature and moisture levels and extending the lifespan of your roofing materials.

Roof Deck

Protection Roof deck protection is a layer installed on the roof deck before shingle installation. It provides an extra barrier against moisture and helps protect the roof's structure.

Roof Maintenance

Roof maintenance encompasses regular inspections and repairs to ensure the roof's longevity and performance. It includes tasks like cleaning gutters, inspecting for damage, and addressing any issues promptly.

Roofing Nails

Roofing nails are specially designed nails with large heads and shank grooves to provide better grip and prevent them from backing out. They are used to secure roofing materials to the roof deck.

Roof Replacement

Roof replacement is the process of removing the existing roofing materials and installing a new roof. It is typically necessary when the existing roof is beyond repair or has reached the end of its lifespan.

Ridge Shingles

Ridge shingles are specially designed shingles installed at the roof's peak to protect against wind-driven rain and provide a finished look to the ridge line.

Roofing Warranty

A roofing warranty is a guarantee provided by the manufacturer or roofing contractor that covers the performance and durability of the roofing materials and workmanship. It provides homeowners peace of mind and ensures the roofing system's quality.

Shed Roof

A shed roof is a single-sloping roof with a single slope angled in one direction. It's a simple, cost-effective roofing design often used in sheds and contemporary architectural styles.

Self-Sealing Strip

Designed for asphalt shingles, a self-sealing strip bonds shingle courses together when exposed to the sun's heat after application. This feature enhances the integrity and longevity of your roofing system.


Roof sheathing, also known as sheeting, serves as the surface on which the roof's base sheet and underlayment are installed. Commonly made from materials like plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), sheathing provides structural support and stability.


The slope of a roof is determined by the angle at which it rises from the horizontal plane. It affects the roof's aesthetics, drainage, and suitability for different roofing materials.

Slope-Intercept Ratio

The slope-intercept ratio is a measurement used to describe the steepness or pitch of a roof. It represents a fraction, indicating how much the roof rises vertically for every horizontal unit.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are photovoltaic cells installed on the roof's surface to harness solar energy and generate electricity. They are an eco-friendly addition that can reduce energy costs over time.


Soffit is the material covering the underside of the eave and extending from the fascia to the wall. It serves both aesthetic and functional purposes, providing ventilation for the attic and adding to the overall visual appeal of your home.

Thermal Insulation

Thermal insulation is a material used to reduce the transfer of heat between the interior and exterior of a building. Proper insulation is crucial for maintaining a comfortable temperature and energy efficiency.


Roof trusses are structural frameworks made of wood or metal that support the roof's weight. They offer stability and distribute the load evenly, ensuring the roof's integrity.


Underlayment is a vital layer beneath your roofing material, serving as an additional barrier against moisture. It helps protect the roof deck from water infiltration and is especially important in regions with heavy rainfall or snow.


A valley is the V-shaped intersection where two roof slopes meet. It's a critical area for proper drainage and requires special flashing to prevent water from infiltrating the roof structure.

Vent Pipe

Vent pipes are pipes that protrude through the roof and are connected to plumbing fixtures in the home, such as toilets and sinks. They allow for the release of sewer gases and provide necessary ventilation for plumbing systems.

Familiarizing yourself with these roofing terms, you'll be better equipped to make informed decisions about your roof's maintenance and any necessary repairs or replacements. If you have any questions or require roofing services, don't hesitate to contact Refined Home Services. We're here to assist you in ensuring the longevity and performance of your roofing system.


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