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Glossary of Basic Roofing Terms

If you’re a homeowner or business owner who doesn’t work in the roofing industry but is looking to work with a roofing company, there may be some confusing terminology thrown around. To help you better understand your roofers and make an educated decision regarding your roofing project, check out this glossary of basic roofing terms with pictures.

Common Roofing Terminology

What is Drip Edge & Why is it Important?

A drip edge is a strip of material (typically metal) installed along the roof edges so water won’t drip onto the eaves, siding, or deck.

What is a Hip Dormer?

A hip dormer is a structure that protrudes from the plane of the roof slope, often with the addition of windows.

What is Flashing used for?

Flashing is the material (often made of sheet metal) designed to waterproof the area around projections such as chimneys, vent pipes, and valleys.

What are Shingle Granules?

Shingle granules are crushed rock with ceramic coating that’s used to surface shingles.

What is Hand Sealing or Hand Tabbing Shingles?

Hand sealing is the practice of sealing shingles by hand, which may be necessary on steep roofs or homes built in high wind or cold weather areas.

What is a hip roof vs a gable roof?

Tan sheet metal roof next to a parking lot

A hip roof is a roof in which four separate roof planes all come together at the top. Square hip roofs look like pyramids, but hip roofs are also found on rectangular homes.

What is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams occur when melted snow refreezes near the overhang of a roof, blocking the path for water run off and building up a heavy wall of ice.

What is an Impact Resistant roof?

Impact resistance is the strength of a roofing material against damages from falling objects, foot traffic, or construction equipment.

What are Interlocking Shingles?

Interlocking Shingles are individual shingles that fasten together to provide superior wind uplift resistance.

What is a Mansard Roof?

A Mansard roof is a four-sided roof with two steep roof planes that meets with a flat plane on the top, often punctured with dormers.

What is a Membrane Roof?

A membrane roof refers to the material that functions as waterproofing. It is usually employed on nearly flat or completely flat roofs to prevent leaks and move water off the roof itself.

What are Roof Penetrations?

Roof Penetrations are anything that passes through the surface of the roof, such as chimneys, vents, or pipes.

What is One Square on a Roof?

One roofing square is 100 square feet (10 feet by 10 feet), a common measurement for roof area.

What is a Roof Tear-off?

Tear-off is the process of removing existing roof materials down to the roof deck.

What is a Valley in Roofing Terms?

A valley is an area in which two roof planes meet and form a V-shaped dip.