Learn Some Roofing Lingo Before You Hire a Contractor

When you’re working with a construction professional, it can seem like they speak a different language. This is no truer than when working with professionals to install a new roof. Whether your roof is hip, gabled or shed, it can be tough to figure out just exactly what to ask for, and to understand what is being done to your roof and what it can cost.

Understanding Roofing Styles

There are many different kinds of roofs but the most basic type is known as a hip roof. They slope on all four sides, all sides are equal length, and they have a ridge at the top. Hip roofs are useful in snowy or windy environments because they will repel rain or snow easily.

Traditionalists will more likely be attracted by a classic gable roof. These designs are triangle-shaped and face different directions from the home.

Another choice is a shed roof, which is the designation for a roof that slopes in a single direction, flat and down, just as you would find on a backyard shed.

Understanding Slope and Pitch

Slope and pitch can be deceptively similar but they’re important concepts to understand when talking with a designer, architect or roofing contractor. The slope is the angle of incline, usually expressed as a fraction or ratio, representing the number of inches that a vertical rise increases over a horizontal run.

Pitch, meanwhile, is the incline of the roof, which is figured out by dividing the rise of the roof by the span from one wall to another. This expression is also a fraction, and still allows you to understand the steepness of your roof.

More Roofing Terminology

Decking, usually composed of plywood or composite materials, is the foundation of your roof, which rests against the attic, covers the rafter, and supports the weight of roofing materials.

Roofing shingles form the final exterior layer of the roof, serving to block UV rays from the sun, prevent water from getting in, and provide aesthetic choices to the homeowner.

Most homeowners are familiar with gutters, which are installed at the edges of the roof to help direct water away from the home. Gutters may also push rain water to downspouts, which are designed to carry water from the gutters to the ground.

A soffit refers to the underside of roof components such as the underside of an overhang, or the inner curve of an arch.

Underlayment is a base layer of asphalt and fiberglass or felt that is installed between the roof deck and the shingles, and may be waterproof or water-resistant.

Dormers, which we often see jutting out over windows, extend up from the roof line to form a house-like structure.

Flashing is a corrosion-resistant metal strip that is deployed around chimneys, pipes, and vents to prevent leaks. Water will always find cracks in a roof, so they need to be found and eliminated before extensive damage, such as mold, can occur.

Vents offer a small opening to allow fresh air to enter, or gas, smoke or steam to escape from an attic space.

Eaves are the edges of the roof that overhang the outermost walls of a house.

The ridge is the edge at the very top portion of the roof that runs from one end of a home to the other.

Valleys are formed where two sections of a roof connect. They’re a risk-intensive place for leaks and may require additional underlayment and flashing materials.

Hopefully, now you’ve learned a few key phrases, can continue your own research to discover the roof you desire, and have gotten a sense of what can go wrong with your roof!