The Anatomy of Your Roof

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You may feel overwhelmed when a roofing professional is discussing your roof – as far as you're concerned, they may as well be speaking gibberish. With terms like “underlayment” and “flashing” being thrown around, you may even blush! Now is the time to acquaint yourself with the terminology used when discussing your roof, so you can best understand your roofing requirements while speaking with a roofing contractor.

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What is My Roof Made Up Of?

Here is a list of the key parts that make up your asphalt shingle roof, with definitions: 

  • Roof Shingles: Roof shingles are a roof covering consisting of individual overlapping elements. These elements are usually flat, rectangular shapes laid in courses from the bottom edge of the roof up, with each successive course overlapping the joints below.

  • Underlayment: Typically, either Plywood or OSB, roofing underlayment exists in the area between the roof sheathing and shingles, otherwise known as the roof deck.

  • Felts / Synthetic Underlayment: The underlayment on your roof applied between the roofing and wood decking for additional protection. Felt provides supplemental protection from weather conditions, such as snow, rain or wind.

  • Roof Deck: The base wood surface on your home’s frame – this is what the roofing materials will be attached to.

  • Roof Valley: A V-shaped intersection adjoining two sloping sections of a roof, in order to produce an angle that provides water runoff.

  • Dormer: Windows that extend vertically from a sloping roof. Derived from the Latin dormitorium (or “sleeping room”), dormer roofs may be hipped, flat or gabled.

  • Rake or Roof Gable: The triangular section of the outer wall at the roofs peak between a sloping roof and eave.

  • Eave: Lower section of roof that overhangs the wall, typically found in the first three feet of a roof.

  • Under Eave Vent: Used to assist in drawing cool air into your attic, under eave vents or intake vents are installed under the eaves of roofs.

  • Ridge Shingles: Ridge shingles are used to cover the horizontal angle where two sloping roofs meet.

  • Ridge Vent: In order to ventilate hot, moist, attic air effectively, rolled ridge ventilation is applied to the ridge of a sloped, shingled roof.

  • Flanges: Metal sheets placed around chimneys, vents and skylights for increased protection against water seepage.

  • Metal Drip Edge: A narrow strip of noncorrosive metal which facilitates water runoff in order to protect the underlying wall behind the rake and eave.

  • Flashing: A thin material, typically galvanized steel, that’s used to direct water away from critical areas of the roof (walls, chimneys, and roof valleys), or wherever the roof plane encounters a vertical surface such as a wall or a dormer.

  • Hip: Hip shingles are used to cover the vertical or inclined angle where two sloping roofs meet, otherwise known as a hip.

  • Ice & Water Shield: Specialized underlayment that is installed to prevent water damage or ice build-up. Commonly applied along the gutters, skylights and chimneys.

For additional definitions of roofing terminology, check out our glossary page.

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The Benefits of Being Informed

While being knowledgeable about your roof may impress your neighbors, the real utility comes in being able to identify roofing issues and being able to discuss said roofing issues effectively with a roofing professional. Armed with the terminology to navigate any roofing discussion, you can make more well-informed decisions and ultimately take better care of your roof, and subsequently, your home.

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About Rapid Restore

Our mission at Rapid Restore is to provide a stress-free, refreshingly simple, world-class roof installation experience for our customers in Long Island, NY. We look forward to protecting you. With over 110+ 5 star reviews on Google, you can trust the expert roofing contractors at Rapid Restore to replace your roof on-time and within budget.

For a quick, no-obligation estimate on your next roofing project, fill out our estimate form!


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Picture of Joseph Elshazly
Joseph Elshazly
Joseph Elshazly is the President and Chief Marketing Officer of Rapid Restoration Group. "Skills are cheap, passion is priceless" is the motto he lives by.

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