Common Roofing Terms You Should Know

Like any technical profession, roofing has a language all its own, and that language involves words unfamiliar to most people. It’s important for homeowners to familiarize themselves with some common roofing terms if they’re considering roof repair or replacement. This way they can communicate effectively with roofing professionals and express concerns when they have them.

Basic Parts of a Roof

Sheathing: Boards made from wood or another material that are secured to the rafters and used as a base for the rest of the roof covering. Also called a deck.

Felt: A fibrous material that’s used as a layer underneath the outermost surface of the roof. Also called underlayment.

Flashing: Pieces of durable metal used for weatherproofing. Flashing is applied around projections and in places where there’s an intersection between two sections to funnel water toward the gutters.

Covering: This refers to the felt plus the outer layer (which may be shingles, metal, slate, or tile).

Drainage: These are the features that allow water to drain off and can include the roof’s shape, its slope, and the way it’s laid out.

Structural Features

Ridge: The angle at the top of a sloped roof, where the two sides meet to form a peak.

Valley: The angle that’s formed when two downward sloping roof sections meet. Valleys can be tricky in terms of placing shingles and flashing, but experienced contractors know how to get this done properly.

Eaves: The bottom edges of the roof that hang over the exterior walls.

Fascia: Boards mounted on an exposed rafter end or at the top of an exterior wall to protect from the elements.

Repair/Replacement Terminology

Bond: The method that’s used to secure the shingles or other covering to each other. There are many different types of bonds, including cross, broken, and staggered.

Nesting: A method of re-roofing that involves laying new shingles over the top of the old shingles in a specific pattern.

Normal Slope Application: This is when shingles are applied to a roof with an average degree of incline (the slope or pitch). Pitch is generally expressed with two numbers which indicate the number of inches the roof rises vertically for every 12 horizontal inches.

As with any situation when you hire contractors, don’t be afraid to ask questions if your roofer starts talking about things you don’t understand. You might feel awkward for a moment or two, but that’s a small price to pay for being on the same page.

Making Your Home Energy Efficient

To help save energy and money on utility bills, look to your home’s roof, siding, windows and doors.

Your home’s exterior plays a big role in helping you stay cool indoors over the summer. Whether or not you have air conditioning, you’ll want to keep the cool air inside to feel more comfortable and to save energy and money on your utility bills.

Here are a few simple things you can do.
  • Turn off your AC and open the windows at night to let in cool air.
  • Install awnings or shutters.
  • Throw shade—in a good way—on your house with a wall trellis, lattice with vines or deciduous trees on the south side of your home to provide maximum summertime roof shading.

You might also want to do some larger upgrades to make a big difference in energy and cost savings, like getting a new roof or siding, or upgrading doors and windows. Here are a few tips to save energy with your roof, siding, doors, windows and HVAC system.

Roof

  • Ready to replace your roof? Opt for a “cool roof” that’s lighter in color and uses ENERGY STAR-certified products that help reflect sunrays. Bonus: Decreasing your roof temperature can add years to your roof.
  • Hands down, insulation is the most cost effective way to save energy. It helps reduce heat transfer from outside air to inside your house. While you’re at it, consider adding a radiant barrier to the underside of the roof deck (between it and the insulation) to further reduce heat transfer.

Siding

  • Just like your roof, your siding should have a layer of insulation. It provides a good weather barrier to help protect your home during storms while helping to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. You can’t add insulation to installed siding; when you’re shopping for new siding, ask about how much insulation the siding has.
  • Check for rotten areas on wood siding, making sure there are no cracks or spots where air can infiltrate or escape. Also check the caulking at least once a year — it can shrink and crack over time.

Front Door

  • Make sure the door closes properly with a good seal, and check that all the areas around the frame are covered with weather stripping. If the door does not close properly, or you can feel a draft, it may be time to consider getting a new door replacement.
  • If you have glass in your doors, check for cracks in the glass.

Windows

Check exterior and interior caulking around windows for cracks. Make sure your windows close and seal correctly. You can buy new low-E windows, which minimize ultraviolet and infrared light, or you can hire a tinting company to apply a film to the interior of the windows to reflect UV light.

HVAC

Have your HVAC system serviced once a year to make sure it’s running efficiently. And be sure to trim any plants near the air conditioner for adequate airflow.

Practicing proper heating and cooling preventive maintenance techniques can go a long way when trying to make your home more efficient.