Roofing Terminology


Understanding common roofing terminology helps you to explore your options more thoroughly when you’re building your own roof. It can even help you to negotiate with your insurer to gain coverage or improve the terms of your policy. Gaining a better understanding of the language puts you on the same page as your materials supplier, helping you to make more intelligent choices about your roofing.

Accelerated Weathering: Your roof is exposed to light, heat, water, and harsh climates. Even condensation pays its toll. If you’d like to know how quickly the materials you choose will weather, ask about their accelerated weathering performance. This is when materials are purposefully exposed to dampness and the like to find out how they will behave in a natural, uncontrolled environment.

Aggregate: Aggregates are surfacing and ballasting roof systems made from marble chips, rock, crushed stone, slag, or water-worn gravel. Aggregates come in eco-friendly and decorative versions. Some are designed to have a large safety factor under extreme conditions such as hurricanes.

Alligatoring: A decorative pattern of cracking bitumen or coating to create hexagonal cracks that look much like an alligator’s hide.

Ballast: The material used to anchor roof membranes using materials including concrete pavers and aggregates. Ballasted roofs have been trusted for decades, and have a beautiful texture. They’re also installed quickly.

Canopy: A structure that projects over entrances and doors. There are both supported and unsupported designs.

Class “A”, “B”, and “C” : Class “A” is the ASTM E-108’s highest possible fire resistance rating in roofing. Such materials can withstand severe fires, while Class “B” materials can only withstand moderate flames. Class “C” materials withstand light fires.

Cricket: A peaked structure placed behind big roof projections like chimneys to divert water away from them.

Drip Edge: The lip installed around the edges of the deck and over gutters and eaves to raise shingles from the deck.

Eaves Flashing: The layer of material attached at the roof edge to prevent water damage by eliminating build-up and keeping overflowing rainwater from coming into contact with exterior siding.

Exposure: Any part of the roofing that’s open to the elements.

Fascia: The vertical trim around the border of a building beneath roof level. Most choose matching trims, but custom fascias are perfect for fussier homeowners.

Fiberglass Mat: Condensed fibers used as roofing materials to add resilience and strength.

Galvanize: Apply a zinc coating.

Gambrel Roof: A roof that has two sloping planes on either side of the ridge, with one plane being lower and steeper than the other.

Hand-Sealing: If you live in an area that’s prone to gales, this sealing process can be used to ensure that your shingles are thoroughly sealed on steep slopes.

HEX shingles: Shingles built in the shape of a hexagon.

Infrared Thermography: A technique used to check for moisture in roofing insulation using an infrared camera to detect leaks in your roof.

Membrane: Any waterproofing material used in the roof. Sarnafil is one of the best ingredients for thermoplastic membranes, while PVC suits those working with a tight budget.

Power Vents: Electric fans that move air from structures and attics. This ventilates climate-controlled spaces to prevent high heating bills.

Release Tape: The strip applied behind self-sealing shingles to keep them from sticking together.

Salvage: The unexposed portion of rolled roofing, designed for the application of sealant and the placement of nails.

Vapor Retarder: A material that prevents the passage of moisture-laden air. It’s important to use a non-bituminous retarder to minimize fire risk. Vapor retarders are only needed if your climate zone’s maximum indoor humidity is high enough to cause condensation.


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