Brushing Up on Roof Terminology Helps You Understand the Replacement Process

Brushing Up on Roof Terminology Helps You Understand the Replacement Process

If you're thinking about a new roof, but aren't sure exactly how the process works, it's a good idea to first brush up on common roof terminology. Understanding the parts of a roofing system will help you to select the product that works best for you and your home. Rest assured, a good contractor will take the time to answer all your questions along the way. However, you may feel more confident if you're familiar with some basic terms. Here are a few definitions that can help you through an initial conversation with your contractor.


Shingles are the small individual pieces that form the top layer of your roof. Different types of shingles exist and some roofs are covered with tiles. The most popular shingle material is asphalt, due to its durability and relatively inexpensive cost. Architectural shingles add a three dimensional look, but are generally more expensive.


The underlayment is an added barrier below the shingles that offers heat resistance and protection against moisture. The underlayment can be made of felt paper or a synthetic material.


The base layer of the roof system is referred to as the deck. Substrate boards are another part of roof terminology that you may hear in reference to the deck. The substrate boards provide the foundation for the underlayment and shingles.


Granules are small particles on the surface of your shingles which give your roof its unique texture. The granules improve the look of your roof and also serve to protect against sun exposure. As your roof ages, uniform granule loss is expected. Sometimes, severe weather events cause premature damage by loosening the granules on your shingles.


Flashing is a material placed at the end of the roof. Flashing prevents water infiltration.

Gable Roof

A gable is the triangle shape created by two sides of the roof slanting downward from one point.

Hip Roof

A hip roof has slopes rising from each side of the house. Thus, a rectangular shaped house would have 4 sides to it, rather than the two sides on a gable roof.


The part of a roof that extends past the walls of the house. Picture the section where icicles dangle in cold weather climates.


The base layer of the roof system is referred to as the deck.

Once you're clear on this basic roof terminology, you're ready to begin looking for a new roof. Contact a local professional to inspect your existing roof and discuss your replacement options. You may be surprised by the many new features and shingle colors available today.

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