Roofing 101

roofing 101

When replacing an old roof or building a home from scratch, it is important to understand the roofing jargon that to you may simply sound like something from a 007, or science fiction movie. In Roofing 101 we explain the basics of roofing shapes, materials, and vocabulary so that you can make the most informed decision when diving into any roofing project: whether repair or new roofing.

Roofing 101: Shapes

  • Gable
  • Hip
  • Mansard
  • Gambrel
  • Shed

Roofing 101: Materials

Asphalt Shingles: With more than 75% of all homes being built with asphalt shingles, these shingles are the most commonly used material in the United States. And for good reason, considering they are the least expensive option, and provide for the easiest installation.  Although their lifespan isn’t the best, they should last 15 to 30 years. Asphalt shingles are available in two types: organic and fiberglass.

Tile Roofs: Concrete and clay tiles are manufactured in a vast variety of colors, to compliment most any Mediterranean, European, Mission, and contemporary or ranch-style home. Tile roofs have the longest life expectancy of any other roofing material. Centuries old tile roofs are still enduring today. Tile roofs are built to withstand most anything Mother Nature throws at them and are Class A fire resistant.

Metal Roofs: Metal roofs can be manufactured using a variety of materials, including copper, aluminum and stainless steel. They are commonly seen on bungalow, ranch, contemporary, and cottage style homes. Highly durable, and resistant to adverse weather, metal roofs are expected to last 50 years or more. Metal roofs are also endlessly recyclable; making them a viable choice for eco-friendly homeowners.

Roofing 101: Vocabulary

Coverage: The degree of weather protection offered by a roofing material: single, double or triple coverage.

Cricket: A built-up barrier to divert runoff around a chimney or at a transitional area.

Decking/Sheathing: The surface, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), to which roofing materials are applied.

Dormer: A small structure projecting from a sloped roof, usually with a window.

Drip Edge: L-shaped pieces of metal installed around the perimeter of a house to help prevent water from dripping behind the fascia boards or cap.

Eaves: Parts of a roof that project beyond or overhang the face at the lower edge of a sloped roof.

Exposure: Specifically, exposure to weather: the distance from the butt edge of one shingle to another.

Fascia: A flat board, band or face located at a cornice’s outer edge.

Fasteners: What holds the roofing material on top of the house (nails or screws).

Felt/Underlayment: A sheet of asphalt-saturated materials (often called tar paper) used as a secondary layer of protection for the roof deck.

Fire Rating: System for classifying the fire resistances of various materials. Roofing materials are rated Class A, B or C. Class A materials, such as tile, have the highest resistance to fire originating outside the structure.

Flashing: Usually metal, this material is installed to prevent the infiltration of water into a transition, such as around chimneys and pipes.

Louvers: Slatted devices installed in a gable or soffit (the underside of eaves) to ventilate the space below a roof deck and equalize air temperature and moisture. OSB: roof deck panels (4 feet by 8 feet) made of narrow bits of wood, installed lengthwise and crosswise in layers, and held together with a resin glue.

Peak: The very top area of the roof, usually covered with a ridge vet or ridge cap.

Penetrations: Objects that penetrate the roof’s deck, such as vents, pipes and chimneys.

Rake: The inclined edge of a pitched roof over an end wall.

Ridge Vent: A vent that runs the entire length of the roof, allowing air to escape.

Square: The amount of roofing material required to cover 10 square feet of roof surface.

Soffits: The finished underside of a sloped roof.

Transitions: Areas of the roof where the pitch/slope or angle changes.

Valley: An internal angle or water runway formed by the intersection of two slopes in a roof.

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