If you feel like you need a personal translator when talking with a roofing contractor, you’re not alone. It’s a language unto itself. To help, here’s a glossary of commonly used terms.
Algae-Resistant Shingles: Asphalt shingles treated with copper to prevent the formation of algae and ultimately the resultant discoloration.
Architectural Shingles (a.k.a. Laminated Shingles): A newer variety of asphalt shingle that is heavier, more expensive, and arguably more durable than its traditional counterpart. They are used to create visual dimension and can resemble more expensive roofing options such as slate and wood shingles.
Asphalt: A bi-product of refining crude oil used to waterproof shingles. Cost fluctuates with the oil prices.
Blisters: Pockets of air that may bubble on an asphalt roof after installation. Might be a result of the manufacturing process, or overuse of roofing mastic or additional adhesives applied during or after the roof installation.
Buckling: A protrusion developing across one or multiple shingles (often vertical, running from eave to ridge). Typically a result of improperly applied felt; wrinkled underlayment; roof deck movement; lack of spacers between roof deck boards; poor roof ventilation; or new shingles applied over old, rough ones. It appears as if there is something underneath the roof, pushing it out.
Deck: The surface, installed over the rafters to which the roofing material (i.e., asphalt shingles, wood shakes, or slate) is applied.
Dormer: A unit projecting from the sloping plane of a roof that is used to create additional usable space and also to serve as a source of natural light.
Eaves: The horizontal, lower edge of a roof, which usually extends beyond the side of the building to provide optimum weather protection.
Eaves Flashing: A self-adhering underlayer of waterproofing material applied at the eaves to help prevent damage from ice dams and hard, wind-driven rain.
Flashing: Pieces of metal or roll roofing used to prevent water from seeping into a building at perimeters, penetrations, walls, expansion joints, valleys, drains and other intersections where the roof covering is interrupted.
Fascia: Vinyl or wood roof trim mounted around the exterior of a building, just below the roofline. In addition to creating a polished aesthetic, fascia protects from weather damage.
Gable: The exterior portion of a house (or other building) that comes to a triangular point at the ridge of a sloping roof.
Gambrel Roof: A ‘borrowed-from-the-barns’ roof design in which two sloping planes of roof with a slightly different pitch lie on either side of the ridge.
Hip: An external angle of a roof formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes that runs from the ridge to the eave.
Hip Roof: A distinctive roof with four sloping planes of the same pitch.
Ice and Water Shield: A protective roofing underlayment applied before an asphalt or wooden shingle or shake roof is installed. The membrane shield seals around the roofing nails, preventing leakage. It also provides protection against ice dams along eaves and valleys.
Laminated Shingles: See Architectural Singles, above.
Large Format Shingles: Rectangular or hexagonal asphalt shingles that do not have cutouts or tabs.
Open Valley: A method of construction in which roofing material on both sides of the valley are trimmed along the valley, exposing the metal flashing.
Overhang: Part of the roof that extends beyond the exterior walls of a building.
Rafter: A piece of the supporting frame (usually a metal or wood beam) located immediately beneath the deck, sloping from the ridge of the roof to the wall plate.
Rake: The inclined edge of a sloped roof over a wall.
Re-covering: The process of covering an existing roofing system with a new roofing system.
Re-roofing: The practice of completely replacing a roof system.
Ridge: The highest point of a roof, the ridge is the horizontal angle created by the joining of two sloping roof planes.
Ridge Shingles (a.k.a. “Hip and Ridge” shingles): Placed over the ridge and hips of a roof so that about half of the shingle rests on each of the two intersecting sloping roof planes.
Ridge Vent: Allows the roof to maintain a more stable temperature, by promoting optimal air circulation in the attic. It is a crucial element of preserving the integrity of your roof. For, without venting, condensation may build up, along with ice dams. When using asphalt shingles the vent is usually a mesh fiber.
Roof Slope (a.k.a. Pitch): The degree of incline created by the angle of two sloping roof planes.
Roof System: All of the components that go into a sound, waterproof roofing design. May also include insulation.
Self-Adhered Eave and Flashing Membrane: Typically, a waterproofing shingle underlayment that offers protection against water infiltration due to ice dams and hard rains. Some self-adhering membranes, however, are designed to be applied as exposed roof coverings.
Starter Strip: Asphalt roofing applied at the eaves behind the first visible row of shingles that prevents water seepage by filling in the gaps between shingles and at the notches between tabs.
Thermal Effect: The implicit property of warm air to rise and cool air to fall. A good roof design enhances this movement of air by incorporating intake vents at the lowest point of the attic. The cool air entering the vents enhances air circulation.
Valley: An internal angle of a roof formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.