Roofing Terms

Roof Pitch

In roofing, the pitch of a roof is communicated as a fraction or ratio such as "4/12". This should be understood as rise over run. For example, if someone refers to a "4/12" pitch, that would represent 4 inches of rise for every 12 inches.

Ridge

A ridge is typically the highest point of a roof and extends horizontally connecting the eaves and/or hips of the roof. Ridges exist only in steep slope roofing applications and often serve as the best place for outflow ventilation to be installed as it is typically at the highest point of a structure.

Valley

Just like a mountain which has ridges, between the ridges will be a valley. It is "V-shaped" and allows water to be be channeled down into drainage components such as gutters. Valleys are a high traffic area for water. As such, valleys are often the culprits for more than 50% of the leaks in steep slope roofing applications. Roofing manufacturers take extra care when designing their roofing systems to ensure that they have products which can handle this scenario, but roof installers must take extra care when installing these products to ensure it is does correctly to avoid leaks in the future.

Hip

You can think of a hip as an inverted valley. They extend up from the eave diagonally to the ridge of the roof. Often times in steep sloped roofing, a roof may be designed to not have any valleys. If this is the case, the the roof will have only hips and ridges and they will be referred to as "hip roofs". Hips of the roof are protected by specialty products. In shingle roof applications, "hip and ridge" shingles are used. In some cases, ventilation products may be installed on the hips of a roof where an insufficient amount of ridge may be present for ridge ventilation.

Field

The field of a roof is a plane and the largest area of a roof. Despite its size in lineal square footage, it represents the most simple portion of the roof and typically is least likely to have leaks in it. Most leaks come from penetrations, valleys, or incorrectly installed or corroded flashing.

Square

A square is short hand slang for people in the roofing industry. A square represents a unit of measure that is 10 feet by 10 feet - or 100 square feet. You shouldn't feel required to speak in terms of "squares" as everyone will understand you perfectly fine if you communicate in lineal square footage, but nearly everyone in steep slope roofing will speak in terms of "squares" so you should be prepared.

Steep Slope Roofing

Usually refers to any roofing with a pitch of 4/12 and higher. The primary design feature of a steep slope roof is to quickly remove water from and avoid pooling. Steep slope roofing systems are the most common types of roof statistically speaking. The roofing materials used on steep slope roofs are comprised of asphalt shingles, wood shingles, concrete roofing tiles, clay tiles, and metal panels.

Low Slope Roofing

Usually refers to any roofing with a pitch of under 4/12. Low slope roofs are often represented as "flat roofs". Technically speaking, there should never be a "flat" roof unless there is a design flaw in the building. All roofing systems are designed to move water from one place to another, whether that is to the edge of the roof, or into internal drains. Roofs in this category consist of modified bitumen, TPO, PVC, and EPDM.

Decking

Refers to the substrate of a roof and applies to both low slope and steep slope roofing. The decking is often used to fasten roofing materials to. In steep slope roofing applications, the decking is typically made up of either CDX or OSB plywood. In low slope roofing applications, the decking may be wood, metal pan, metal beam, structural concrete, or lightweight concrete panels such as gypsum.

Fascia

Usually made up of wood or PVC (in modern applications) and is hung to the face of the eave on the rafters of the structure. Drip edge typically protects this area of the roof.

Soffit

Attached to the underside of the eave and is typically constructed of plywood. There is often a type of outflow ventilation fastened to soffit called soffit vents.

Eave

The horizontal area of the roof that typically has fascia and gutters attached to it. In most cases, roofers refer to eaves, as being the area comprised of fascia and soffit.

Rake

The rake is structurally the same as an eave except that the rake is not horizontal, but rather follows the pitch of the roof upward towards the ridge of the roof.

Cricket

Crickets are small framed structures that essentially function as "water diverters". They are commonly found next to chimneys. Steep sloped roofs allows water to flow towards the chimney and a cricket diverts the water around the chimney to prevent backwash from flowing over the flashing and into the home.

Dormer

Often referred to as "eyebrows", but represent a portion of the roof that has a framed component embedded within it. Dormers are most often aesthetic on the front elevation of the roof but may also serve as a functional area as they typically have windows attached for outward viewing. These can be challenging areas as they require a great deal of roofing components to avoid leaking. Such components are step flashing, apron flashing, ridges, and sometimes crickets.

Underlayment

Underlayments are a fairly broad category, but in all cases, they serve as the last layer of protection before moisture reaches the decking in the field of the roof. Until recently, asphaltic felt was commonly used. Synthetic underlayments have begun to replace asphaltic felt due to their superiority in strength, and functional ability to prevent water from reaching the roof decking. Probably the most important thing to know about the differences between asphaltic felt and synthetic underlayment is that felt varieties are porous. This means that given enough time and exposure to moisture, moisture will eventually make its way to the roof decking which will cause leaks. Synthetic varieties do not allow moisture in, but not all varieties will let water vapor out (in the event that moisture makes its way in through other areas of the roof). Having a breathable synthetic underlayment is the most expensive route, but also the most healthy for your roof long term.

Eagle View

An "Eagle View" is actually a three dimensional roof measurement which is typically procured by satellite imagery. A company called "Eagle View" invented this technology, and while they are not the only provider of satellite-based roofing imagery, they are dominant throughout the industry due to their reliability and the level of trust established with insurance carriers. Thus, roofing measurements are very commonly referred to as "Eagle Views".

Inflow Ventilation

The are two flow-related components to ventilation of buildings - inflow, and exhaust. Ventilation is extremely important in all roofing applications. In steep slope roofing applications, inflow components are typically installed in the soffit, and sometimes in eaves. These components are typically at the lowest portions of the roof. The inflow of relatively cool air enters the roofing structure (typically the attic) and, with the help of exhaust components, warmer air is removed from the structure - remember that heat always rises. This is a naturally occurring convection process which relies on equal inflow and exhaust ratios to work properly.

Exhaust

The outflow ventilation or exhaust of a roof is an equally, and perhaps more important, component of roof ventilation. The most common types of exhaust on steep slope roofing applications are ridge vents. These are known as static exhaust components since there are no mechanical functions. Proper static exhaust relies on equal inflow and exhaust ratios to remove warm air from the structure properly.

Building Envelop

The building envelope in its most simple explanation is the physical separator between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building including the resistance to air, water, heat, light, and noise transfer. The implementation of the building envelope is a complicated subject and involves mechanical engineers, structural engineers, architects, and thermal engineers. Due to the complexity of this topic, we can only offer a topical definition for you.