roofing terms

Common Roofing Terms Explained

Like many skilled trades, roofing has a language of its own. We use terms to describe aspects of roofing that people who are just learning about roofs do not fully understand. If you are considering buying a new roof or replacing an existing one, you may wonder what this jargon means.

In this article, we will explain the most commonly used roofing terms so that you are up to speed when making big decisions about your roof. Let’s start with roofing pitch, one of the most fundamental concepts we use daily.

Roof Pitch

Roof pitch refers to your roof’s slope angle or steepness. Generally, we refer to pitch in terms of a simple ratio such as 6/12. In this example, 6 refers to the roof’s vertical rise, and 12 refers to the horizontal run. More specifically, this ratio means that for every 12 inches of horizontal run, the roof rises 6 inches vertically.

While roof pitch is a relatively simple concept, it can have a profound effect. For example, depending on your roof pitch, we recommend using different roofing materials. Certain roofing materials perform better on flat roofs than on steep roofs and vice versa.

Roofing Material

Roofing material is simply the material used on the visible part of your roof. While there are many different roofing material options, most roofs are comprised of tile, slate, shingles, or metal.


The underlayment lies below the roofing material (tile, shingles, etc.) and provides a supplementary layer of protection against water penetration. Typically, the underlayment is constructed of felt or synthetic materials and serves as the last layer of defense in a serious storm.


The joints and seams of the roof are particularly susceptible to water penetration. We use specially constructed elements called flashings to provide additional protection against the elements. They are typically constructed of metal or rubber, whichever best suits the roof’s aesthetics and functionality.


Valleys are the areas of your roof where two roof slopes intersect, like a valley between two mountains. Like geographical valleys, roof valleys are susceptible to heavy water runoff and pooling. As a result, we make sure to provide extra attention and protection to this area when building a new roof or replacing an existing one.


As some of you may know, eaves are the roof sections that overhang your home’s external walls. They are important because they protect your walls from water runoff and significantly decrease the chances of penetration through your walls.


The ridge, sometimes called the peak, is commonly the highest point of the roof where two sloping sides meet. Ridge vents, which allow warm, moist air to exit the home, play a critical role in your home’s ventilation.

Consider yourself informed!

Congratulations—you are now an informed homeowner about roofing. The information in this article will serve you well when it comes time to purchase a new roof or replace your existing one. When that time comes, please contact us. We would love to build the new roof that you have always wanted.