Roofing Terms

A Compendium of Technical Roofing Terms

Listening to your roofer can be maddening when they start throwing around jargon specific to their industry. To begin your education on roofing terms and what they mean, we have put together a short list of common words you will mostly likely hear.

Roofing termsFlashings – pieces of metal material that conform to the roof wall, protecting it from rainwater access. Two kinds of flashings are aprons and saddles:

  • Aprons – are situated in front of protruding roofing structures such as chimneys.
  • Saddles – typically affixed to roofing structures that incline in a stepping pattern as around chimneys.

Cladding – the surface appearance of a building’s exterior wall.

Bond – an adhesive that holds together the same sorts of roofing material.

Course – a line of tiles or slates that cover the length of the roof.

Coverage – any roofing material that covers surface area.

Cross ventilation – when air passes through a gap between vents.

Deck – a substructure installed beneath the roofing and above the frame boards.

Dormer – a jutting structure appearing on the slope of a roof that acts as a window frame.

Eaves – overhangs the roof’s margin.

Drip edge – runs by the eaves, permitting rainwater run-off that steers clear of substructures.

Gutter – a structure that allows rainwater to pass from the eaves to the rainwater pipes.

Hopper – a part that channels rainwater into a pipe coming from a chute.

Insect mesh – a protective material installed over vents that prevents insects from gaining access to a building’s interior.

Interlocking tiles – these fit into each other like puzzle pieces to protect against wind lift.

Joists – wall-to-wall supporting wood or steel ceiling beams.

Pitch – the depth or relative shallowness of a roof’s slope.

Mansard roof – constructed of two inclining planes on all four sides. The pitch of the lower plane is at a more acute angle than the upper plane.

Nailing pattern – a design technique with a utilitarian purpose in which nails affix roofing material.

Parapet – a wall of differing heights and/or designs constructed at the margin of a roof.

Soffit – a plane of finished material that lies beneath the eaves.


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