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  • Writer's pictureElite Roofing

Roofing Glossary/Parts Of A Roof

When trouble arises with your roof, it may be difficult to describe the issues to your roofing contractor if you don’t know the different areas/parts of your roof. That is why we here at Elite have created a list of common areas and parts of a roof so you can be a roofing expert in no time (and impress your roofing contractor with your newfound knowledge.)

Types of Roofs:

Let’s start with the basics: types of roofs. When describing your roof to a roofing contractor, it is important for them to note the type of roof you have so they can be able to determine what types of materials are necessary for your job. Check out these common roof types to see which one matches your roof:

Combination Roof: Combination roofs are exactly how they sound; they are a combination of different types of roofs! Combination Roofs are becoming increasingly popular in new construction due to their flexibility in design. This style of roof can be considered complex as it can have many different high and low points, thus allowing you to create any type of roof you desire!

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Flat Roof: Flat roofs are easily the most common roofing type found in Jersey City and the rest of Hudson County. Although often found on the tops of commercial buildings, flat roofs are becoming popular in new builds looking to create a modern or contemporary look.

Source: (Elite Roofing Contractor)

Gabled Roof: Gabled roofs may be one of the most iconic roofing styles found all across the United States. This roof type is not only the easiest but is one of the most cost-effective options for both yourself and your contractor!

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Gambrel Roof: One of the lesser common roofing types, gambrel roofs are often found on barns yet they are utilized by homeowners to create extra space in the attic.

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Hipped Roof: Hipped roofs are a variation of a gabled roof. They are constructed to be a hipped roof that has four sloping faces that all meet at the top of the roof. Hipped roofs are extremely known for their strength and durability, so they are often used in regions that experience high winds and extreme winter weather.

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Parts Of A Roof:

Now that you understand the common roofing types, let's take a look at the different parts of a roof:

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Abutment: “It is a term used specifically in bridge construction and in roofing. In building roof systems, abutment refers to the spaces in the roof where the roof’s slope intersects to a vertical area such as chimneys or walls. They can be found on the side, top or around these vertical areas where they connect with.”

Chimney Flashing: “Chimney flashing is a type of roof flashing that creates a waterproof seal to protect your chimney and roof from water damage and penetration.” “It's important to make sure your chimney has all the proper flashing parts so that your home can stay free of water damage.”

Decking: Decking, often commonly referred to as sheathing, is the first layer on top of your home’s rafters. Decking is typically made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) and is the material onto which the other layers of the roof are attached. Properly installed decking is essential to a sturdy roof.

Dormer: "Dormer roofs are the little rooms that project from a roof and allow more space and light in the top floor or attic. As architectural styles have shifted, architects and builders have invented more ways to build dormers."

Downspout: “It is the pipe installed vertically from the roof down to the ground. It is the pipe connected to the external gutter and channels the expelled water down to a designated point. While it is usually made of PVC, downspouts can also be made of galvanized steel and other plastic materials.”

Drip Edge: “It is a type of metal flashing used to protect underlying roof fixtures. It is installed along the eaves to reroute water flow away from the fascia. In the structure, it hangs from the roof’s sides. It has a small metal flange bent away from the fascia. Some people would say that the drip edge is no longer essential since you have the gutter to work almost the same job.”

Eave: “It is considered as the lowest point in a pitched/gabled/mansard roof. They are also called roof edges overhanging from the wall’s face projecting from the side of the house. It is the one that connects the gutters to the roof. Technically, it functions to clear the wall with water trickling down the surface.”

Fascia: Fascia is the horizontal piece of material at the end of a roof’s eaves. Wood is a common material for fascia boards, but low-maintenance aluminum and synthetic options are gaining market share. When correctly installed together, soffit vents and fascia seal the roof and prevent pests from entering the attic while still allowing adequate airflow through the space.

Flashing: Flashing is an important part of waterproofing a roof. Usually made of metal, flashing prevents water from entering any small openings in the roof. Flashing is typically installed around dormer windows, skylights, vents, and chimneys.

Gable: “A gable is a section of the wall located at the end of a pitched roof, between the edges of the intersecting pitches. It is usually triangular and extends from the eaves to the ridge, although the shape and details depend on the particular structural system used for the roof. The term ‘gable wall’ (or ‘gable end’) is used to refer to the gable and the whole wall below it.”

Hip: “It is the external angle functioning as the intersection where adjacent sloping sides of a roof would meet. An associated term is the hip end which refers to the triangular sloping surface usually formed by the intersecting hips in the roof’s edge/eaves. It is associated with a hipped roof, a roof design known for its slants and inward slopes on all of its sides. Hipped roofs are commonly used in snowy and windy areas as the ice would easily slide off from the slants.”

Membrane: “Membrane roofing is a type of roofing system for buildings, RV’s, Ponds, and in some cases tanks. It is used to create a watertight covering to protect the interior of a building. Membrane roofs are most commonly made from synthetic rubber, thermoplastic (PVC or similar material), or modified bitumen.”

Rain Gutter: “It is an important external roof fixture. It is a duct functioning as a water discharging system for the house. For the gutter to serve its purpose though, it has to be installed at an angle where the water it pushes off would not fall directly around the house grounds. Water falling too close to the house’s foundation could weaken it and can also damage the basement entirely if you have one.”

Ridge: “It is technically known as the ridge board. It is the horizontal wood or metal resting at the roof’s peak creating the roof’s triangle. In technical terms, it is the highest peak on a roof. In terms of function, the ridge is connected to the rafters and trusses to make the roof’s frame. Interestingly, it is also used to refer to a roof board or beam used in building the roof’s ridge entirely.”

Sidewall: “It is one of the types of walls used in roof flashing (which is a waterproofing material to prevent water infiltration), specifically in base and step flashing. Sidewalls like their front wall counterparts are vertical walls intersecting with the roof deck’s surface. It connects the edges of a sloping roof deck.”

Soffit/Ridge Vents: Properly venting a roof is vital to its longevity. In fact, if your roof has asphalt shingles, inadequate ventilation may void the shingle manufacturer's warranty and cause the roof to fail prematurely. Soffit vents are located in the roof’s overhang, or what is often referred to as the roof’s eaves. Ridge vents are installed at the top of the roof. Used together, soffit and ridge vents allow air to enter the attic under the eaves and exit from the top of the roof. Due to limited ridge lengths, some homes require the use of turbine, or power, vents.

Skylight: “Skylights perform a few key functions. First, they aid in warming and cooling a home. In the summer they allow hot air to escape (provided they can be opened) and insulate in the wintertime. They can also provide natural light to a home, reducing energy costs.”

Underlayment: Roofing underlayment is a thick, water-resistant material that helps protect the roof’s decking from moisture. Most residential roofs are constructed with underlayment made of a thick felt that has been impregnated with asphalt, but synthetic underlayments are growing in popularity.

Valley: “It connects two pitched/sloped roofs, forming an angle of 90 degrees. It supports the valley rafter which in turn supports an internal roof gutter where water and small debris will fall and trickle down to the external gutter. Essentially, it is the roof valley that collects the water that will fall off the roof. This is the reason why choosing the right installation type for the valley is one of the most crucial steps in roofing or else you would have serious leaking problems.”

Although there are many more parts of a roof, depending of course on the type of roof you have, this list should help you to understand exactly where your roof's problem areas are, and even impress your contractor with your newfound terminology. If you find yourself needing a roof repair or replacement, any exterior work, or simply just a roof inspection, feel free to reach out to Hudson County's best-rated roofing contractor, Elite Roofing! If you’d like to schedule a F R E E estimate, you can call our office directly at (201)436-1011, or shoot us an email at today!


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