two roofers working on a roof with a drill

The Indispensable Roofing Terms Glossary


If you’re a roofing contractor, you’ve probably worked with many homeowners who don’t know certain roofing terms. That knowledge gap can cause misunderstandings and miscommunication.

On the other hand, if you’re unfamiliar with roofing, there are a lot of standard industry terms that you probably haven’t heard before. Building a solid foundation of roofing terms helps you better understand your roof and communicate with your roofer.

Whether you’re a homeowner or a professional roofer, review our glossary of roofing terms to elevate your technical roofing knowledge today.

General Roofing Terms

Apron Flashing

A piece of flashing installed along the juncture of a roof slope and a vertical wall or chimney. Apron flashing prevents water penetration into the structure by directing water away from the intersection and onto the roof surface.


Curled shingles from moisture or other damage. 

Dead Valley

A roof dead valley is a type of valley where two roofs meet and have little to no slope. This lack of slope leads water and debris to collect and can cause problems.

Drip Edge

A metal flashing installed along the edges of the roof to direct water away from the fascia and into the gutters.


A vertical board that runs along the lower edge of the roofline and often holds the gutters in place.


Hardware like nails, screws, or staples used to secure roofing materials to the roof deck or substrate, ensuring stability and resistance to wind uplift and other environmental factors.

Fire Rating

A classification system indicating the fire resistance of roofing materials, typically categorized as Class A, B, or C. Class A materials are the most fire-resistant and offer the highest level of protection.


A thin steel installation that keeps water away from roof features like chimneys or vents.


A pipe or duct that exhausts gases from a fireplace, furnace, or other heating appliance through the roof.

Ice Dams

Buildups of ice along the eaves of a roof caused by melting snow refreezing at the colder roof edge. Ice dams can potentially lead to water backup and infiltration under roofing materials.

Mansard Roof

A type of roof characterized by two slopes on each of its four sides, with the lower slope steeper than the upper, often featuring dormer windows and providing additional living space in the attic.

Pipe Boot

A flexible, waterproof covering typically made of rubber or neoprene, designed to fit tightly around plumbing vent pipes penetrating the roof, preventing water intrusion at these vulnerable points.


The angle or slope of the roof. Pitch is typically measured in inches of vertical rise per foot of horizontal distance.


The inclined structural beams that support the roof's decking or sheathing and give the roof its shape, typically extending from the ridge to the eaves or wall plate.

Roof Square 

A standardized way of measuring roofs. Learn more about roof squares in our Beginner's Guide to Roofing Squares blog post.


Overlapping individual pieces that cover the roof. Shingles can come in many different materials, including asphalt, tile, wood, slate, steel, and copper.


The underside of the eaves or roof overhang. Soffit is often ventilated to allow airflow into the attic space.

Tear Off

The process of completely removing existing roofing materials down to the roof deck before installing new roofing, allowing for thorough inspection, repair, and replacement as necessary.

Three-Tab Shingle

A common type of asphalt shingle, featuring three equally spaced tabs along its length, providing a traditional and economical roofing option with a uniform appearance.


A water-resistant material between shingles and roof sheathing that provides extra weather and leak protection.


Collects and flows water off where roof slopes meet. Roof valleys are prone to water accumulation and require proper sealing and flashing.


Space between the roof and the ceiling of the home. Attics are a common type of roof void. 

Pitched Roof Terms


A pitched roof with small rooms extending off the roof's slope.


The edge of a roof that hangs over a building’s walls.

Gable Roof

Two pitched sides meet in the middle to form a triangle. 


Four pitched sides form a ridge on top of the roof.

Pitched Roof 

Roofs with a steep slope. You can see some of the most common types of pitched roofs here. 


The horizontal line where the roof’s panels meet at the highest peak.

Ridge Vent

A vent installed along the peak of the roof that allows warm air to escape from the attic, improving ventilation and reducing moisture buildup.


The structured triangular framework that supports the roof. 

Flat Roof Terms

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

A traditional flat roofing system consisting of multiple layers of asphalt-saturated felt or ply sheets alternated with layers of hot-applied asphalt and finished with a protective surfacing material such as gravel or mineral granules.

Flashing Cement

A type of adhesive or sealant used on flat roofs to adhere or seal flashing materials, seams, and penetrations, providing additional waterproofing protection.

Flat Roof 

Any roof that is nearly level and has minimal sloping. Take a look at the different types of flat roofs here.

Membrane Roofing

A type of roofing system commonly used on flat roofs, consisting of flexible membranes made of materials such as EPDM, TPO, or PVC, which are heat-welded or adhered to the roof substrate.


A low wall or barrier along the edge of a flat roof, typically extending above the roofline to provide protection and concealment of rooftop equipment.

Pitch Pocket

A sealed flashing detail that roofers use around penetrations such as pipes or conduits on flat roofs to create a watertight seal while still allowing for movement.


The accumulation of water on a flat roof due to inadequate drainage or an improper slope. Ponding can lead to structural damage and premature deterioration of roofing materials.

Roof Deck

The structural substrate or base layer of a flat roof, typically made of plywood, concrete, or metal. The rest of the roofing materials are applied to the roof deck.

Roof Jack

A device used to provide support and sealing around penetrations such as vents, pipes, or conduits on flat roofs, helping to prevent water infiltration.


An opening or outlet in the parapet wall or edge of a flat roof. The scupper allows water to drain off the roof and into a downspout or drainage system.

Tapered Insulation

Tapered insulation boards are installed on flat roofs with varying thicknesses to create slope and facilitate proper water drainage towards designated areas or drains.

Stay Informed on the Roofing Industry 

As a professional roofer, understanding roofing terminology is an investment in your company’s success and reputation. You can also invest more in your roofing business’s success by creating stellar proposals. 

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