Let’s say you’re getting your roof repaired and your roofer tells you that you need to replace the flashing around the vent pipe. Do you know what he’s talking about or is he speaking a foreign language?
More than any other home improvement field, roofing has a vocabulary all its own. And while you want to choose a roofing contractor who will educate you and walk you through the process, it’s also helpful to empower yourself with enough knowledge to understand basic terms. As a consumer, this information helps you understand how and why certain repairs need to be done, make decisions with confidence and know when you’re getting your money’s worth.
The ABCs of Roofing
One of the main purposes of any roof is to keep out the weather, especially rain and snow. So much of what we talk about when we talk about roofing has to do with keeping your house dry. Many of the words roofers deal with are related to the structure of the roof, while others deal with protrusions coming out of your roof, including pipes and vents to help air circulate and maintain a healthy and safe environment. As you consider roof repair or a new roof, here are some key roofing terms you should know:
- Dormer: a window that projects out from a sloped roof. Dormers come in many styles and shapes, with gable and hip roof styles particularly popular. They can bring light and a little extra space into attic areas.
- Eaves: the edges of the roof that hang over the walls of a house. They help drain water from the roof and are a common location for intake vents to bring in fresh air and help circulate hot air out of attic spaces.
- Fascia: exposed siding boards just below the eaves. Fascia work with soffits and gutters (see below) to weatherproof your home as water runs off the roof. When your home’s fascia look great, it’s a big esthetic plus.
- Flashing: sheet metal or other material installed on a roof system’s joints and valleys to prevent water seepage. It’s often seen in roof valleys and around chimneys and vents.
- Gable: the classic triangle-shaped roof design where two sides slope in opposite directions meet.
- Gutters: metal or vinyl material attached to the fascia that collects and diverts water running off the roof. The way a gutter is attached to your roof can have a big impact on the roof above since they help prevent water damage to your roof.
- Hip: an outward angle created by roof slopes as they meet.
- Pitch: the steepness or slope of a roof.
- Rake: a roof rake is the slanting edge of a gable roof at the end of the house. It’s similar to fascia but with a downward angle at the gable.
- Ridge: the point where two sides of the roof meet. It refers to the roof’s highest point and also to the board or beam that creates that point.
- Ridge Vent: an exhaust vent installed at the top of the roof allowing hot air to escape.
- Rafters and Trusses: the lumber that supports the roof and a core element of the roof structure. Rafters are found in most older homes and include long planks sloping down from a central beam and attaching to ceiling joists at the other end. Trusses, common in most new construction, are prefabricated units that create the roof plane in place of rafters.
- Sheathing: also called roof decking, sheathing is the name for boards or material that are fastened to rafters or trusses to cover a house or building. They form the inner layer between the rafters and the roof covering.
- Soffit: the underside of an eave or another construction element that connects walls or siding to the roofline or forms the underside of a dormer. They’re often exposed to water and can become cracked, rotted or damaged so it’s important to maintain them.
- Square: roofing material is described by the “square,” which is 100 square feet. For example, shingles are sold by the square.
- Underlayment: A protective barrier between the roof deck and your roofing material. It’s an added layer of protection from moisture and is usually made from asphalt-saturated felt or synthetic material.
- Valley: the dip where two slopes meet. They can be open (covered with a v-shaped piece of metal) or closed (covered with shingles). A big goal of high-quality roofing is to prevent water leakage in roof valleys.
- Vent Pipe: pipes protruding from the roof that help regulate your home’s plumbing system by keeping water flowing through pipes and releasing sewer gasses. Many homeowners don’t give vent pipes a second thought, but they play an important role in your house’s plumbing system.
Your Roofer and You: Communication is Key to Building Relationships
A strong sense of trust is why our clients choose DryHome for some of the most important projects any homeowner can undertake. Making decisions about your roof is a big deal, and we’re there to guide you through it. We’re grateful for your trust, but we also want our clients to be informed. We’re here to guide you and explain the process, but we also want you to be educated so you can be confident in your decision making. That’s the key to a real partnership, and we hope a little tutorial on the basics can help.