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Roofing Terms You Need To Know Before Hiring a Roofer

Updated Oct 14, 2022

Updated Oct 14, 2022

Home > Roofing > Roofing Terms You Need To Know Before Hiring a Roofer

If you’re new to the world of roofing and roof replacement, it can be challenging as a homeowner to keep up with the many industry-specific roofing terms. However, understanding common roofing terminology is critical when deciding which residential roofing contractor to hire for your project.

In this article, we’re sharing the roofing terms you need to know before hiring a roofer so that you can choose the best roofer for your project.

Common Roofing Terms You Need to Know

Roof Decking or Roof Sheathing

Your roof decking is the wooden foundation that the other parts of your roof are nailed into. Roof decking comes in two primary types: plank decking, which comes in wooden planks, and sheet decking, which comes in plywood or oriented strand board (OSB).

Roof decking, or roof sheathing, is an integral part of the foundation of your roofing, and it’s critical that it’s protected from water, which can cause the wood to rot. If the wood rots, you’ll need to replace the roof decking entirely.

Roof Underlayment

Roof underlayment is installed directly on top of your roof sheathing or the roof decking. It’s a felt or synthetic material that prevents roof rot by keeping water off the roof decking and acting as a second layer of protection.

Roof Flashing

Roof flashing is a thin metal material installed to direct water away from specific parts of your roof structure, such as roof valleys, walls, and chimneys.

Roof flashing comes in three primary types: counter flashing, step flashing, and apron flashing. You’ll typically have three different types of metal to pick from, including copper, steel, and aluminum.

Rakes and Eaves

The edges of your roof are known as rakes and eaves. Eaves are the edge of the roof that run horizontally, like your gutter line. Rakes are also the edges of your roof but run at a slope.

Ice and Water Shield

Ice and water shields protect your roof from ice and water damage. They are waterproof membranes installed on and around specific parts of your roof, such as around penetrations, roof valleys, and on low slope roofs.

Ice and water shields come in three primary types: high heat, smooth, and granule or sand surface shields.

Roof Facets

The different sides and sections of your roof are called roof facets. Simple roofs may only have a few, but more complex roofs will have many.

Prorated and Non-prorated

The terms prorated and non-prorated are relevant to your manufacturer’s material warranty. If you have a prorated material warranty, the roofing material loses value every year. In contrast, a non-prorated material warranty ensures your roofing materials maintain the same value while it ages.

Roofing Square

Roofing squares are a unit of measurement with 100 square feet of roof area per square. A roofing square is a measurement frequently used to determine how much material your roofing project requires and the overall cost of a job.

Roof Valleys and Roof Hips

A roof valley is the point on your roof where two roof facets meet and form a slope and interior angle, allowing water to flow off your roof correctly. In contrast, a roof hip is two roof facets that meet and form a slope and exterior angle.

Drip Edge

A drip edge is a metal part nailed to your roof decking at the very edge of a roofline. As the name suggests, a drip edge keeps the water running off your roof, so it doesn’t wick back and soak your roof decking.


A gable is a triangular section below the point on your roof where two roof facets meet and overhang on a wall.


Fascia is the component located directly below the eaves and rakes of your roofline. They can be decorative but often also function as a drip edge.


Soffit is installed below the fascia where your roof overhangs against the wall. Most roofers install intake vents or ridge vents where your soffit is located.

Starter Shingles

Starter shingles are pre-cut roofing materials installed at the rakes and eaves before the next course of shingles are installed on top of them. Starter roof shingles have an adhesive that creates a strong seal against the roof, improving your shingles’ resistance to high winds.


The dormer is the part of your roof that sticks out and forms a small section of your roof, such as a window.

Roof Cricket

Your roof cricket is a double triangular structure that is sloped. It’s located around chimneys and walls on your roof and diverts water around these areas by splitting the water and helping it run down each side of the chimney.


Caulk is a sealant that is used in roof repairs, such as fixing small roof leaks by sealing and waterproofing the area. When a roofing contractor says they’re caulking your roof, they’re using sealant to repair parts of the roof and improve durability.

Roof Pitch

The roof pitch refers to the steepness of your roof. It’s typically formatted in an x/12 format. X equals the rise of your roof, while 12 is the run.

Closing Thoughts

Roofing projects can be stressful but reviewing common roofing terms before speaking with a roofing contractor can save you time and frustration during the process. Take your time choosing a roofing contractor to take on your new roof or roof system project, and rest easy knowing they will do it right the first time.

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