How To Understand Roof Layers & Terms

When working with your roofing contractor, you will hear them mention several industry-specific terms related to roofing. While many reputable roofers will be happy to clarify anything you're unfamiliar with, it's always advisable to have a handy reference guide.

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How To Understand Roof Layers & Terms

This way, you can be better prepared to manage your roof installation, repairs, or replacement without getting duped into paying for something you don't need. Here is our roundup of common roof layers and terms to help you get familiarized with what you'll likely hear during your residential roofing projects:


Roofing insulation is designed to enhance your home's energy efficiency by keeping your home a consistent temperature.


Roof ventilation enhances air circulation through the attic space. It eliminates overheated air and moisture from the attic space and roof system, hence minimizing the impact of temperature and moisture changes both inside and outside your home.

Roof Deck

The roof deck is the material between the structural components of the roof (trusses and joists) and the waterproofing and insulation membranes (roofing materials, layers, coatings, etc.). In other words, the roof deck is the component of the roof upon which every other item is placed. It needs to be strong enough to hold the entire weight of the roof and durable enough to cope with the elements. Common roof deck materials for residential homes include steel, plywood, tongue and groove systems, and concrete.

Water Shield

Ice and water shield is simply a self-adhering waterproofing underlayment used in roofs to help prevent damage caused by wind-driven rain and ice dams. Water shields are commonly installed on eaves, rakes, valleys, flashings, and chimneys.


Roofing underlayment is installed onto your roof deck to provide a water-resistant or waterproof barrier against extreme weather. It is typically installed beneath all other roofing materials and is often made of asphalt-saturated felt, rubberized asphalt, or non-bitumen synthetic membrane.

Ridge Vent

A ridge vent is a type of vent installed at the peak of a pitched roof, allowing warm, humid air to escape from your attic. These vents are most commonly used on shingled residential homes.

Roofing Material

Reputable roofing contractors often build relationships with leading roofing material suppliers, allowing them to offer a variety of materials, styles, and colors for all types of roofs. The result is a beautiful roof which uplifts your home's curb appeal and value while protecting everything inside. Common roofing materials for residential homes include asphalt shingles, wood shakes, metal, concrete and clay tiles, and slate.


Roof flashing is a slim material, usually galvanized steel, which roofers install to direct water away from critical areas of the roof. It's usually installed in areas where the roof plane joins a vertical plane such as walls or dormers. Flashing is also used around areas surrounding roofing protrusions such as skylights, vents, and chimneys.

Eave, Fascia, Soffits

The eaves are the edges of the roof which hang over the face of a wall and often projects beyond the side of the building. They form an overhang to direct water clear of the walls. A soffit is the horizontal sheet of aluminum or vinyl used to cover the underside of the roof’s overhang. Fascia, on the other hand, is the board which runs along the ends of your building structure where exterior components such as gutters are attached.


Many roof types feature multiple punctured holes referred to as penetrations. Pipes, chimneys, exhaust fans, vents, air conditioners, and skylights all fall under the category of roof penetrations.


Rake is the slanting edge of a gable roofing system at the end wall of the house.


A roof "ridge" refers to the top-most peak created by the intersection of two roof slopes.


The slope or pitch is simply the angle at which a roof slants. It is calculated by the number of inches a roof rises vertically for every 12 inches horizontal run. So, a roof which rises 8 inches for every 12 inches of the horizontal run has a pitch of 8-in-12.


In roofing terms, one square is equivalent to 100 square feet. Typically, roofing shingles and metal roofing products are sold by the square footage.


A roof valley is where two roof slopes intersect. It helps to channel water away from the roof and is why your choice of valleys is critical as they often create risks for serious roof leaks.


A hipped roof is a roofing system which slopes upward from every side of the structure, with no vertical ends. The hip refers to the external angle at which adjacent slopes of a roof meet.


Roofing granules are often made from crushed minerals and stone. Thanks to advancements in technology, shingle manufacturers can today create products of virtually any color, texture, size, and shape. As your roof ages, these granules can come loose from shingles and into the gutters.

Ultimately, all parts of the roof should be installed and repaired by a professional roofer. From roof installations to repairs and replacements, you can count on West Orange Roofing in Central Florida for exceptional services. Visit Our Work page to see some of the most recent projects we've completed for our satisfied customers. You can also contact us directly with any questions about residential roofing.

Go ahead: call us today and we’ll be there tomorrow!