Basic Roofing Terms for Homeowners

Basic Roofing Terms for Homeowners

So, it’s time for a new roof. Maybe you’ve been having some trouble with yours, or you’re going through a remodel… Either way, this process may be entirely foreign to you, especially if you are a newer homeowner. It can be scary making an investment like this for your home without knowing the details of the project. Today, we’re going to walk you through some of the little roofing terms that you might hear from your installer. Knowing these things will also help you communicate to, and ask questions of, your roofer.


Roof Design

Let’s talk about your roof’s surface and shape. Depending on the style of your home, most will have valleys and ridges. A valley is the concave crease where two surfaces meet, while a ridge is the convex length where two surfaces meet, like at the very top of your home. The eave of your roof is the small portion that overhangs. The most common builds of roof in our state of Arizona are gable- and hip-roofs. These roofing terms are related to home and build style. A gable roof slants downward on two sides, usually in the front and back. A hip roof is one that slants downward on all sides, creating more ridges. Valleys can be created by features like dormers, which are those little windows that protrude from a slanted roof.

Roof Materials

Now that you understand roofing terms related to your home, its style, and shapes, lets go over the materials that will be used on it. Over the plywood, assuming it is in good condition and does not need to be replaced or repaired, your installer will apply an underlayment. This is usually builders felt and protects your home from the elements, and looks exactly as you’d expect–like a sheet of black fabric. It should be tiered, and your shingles should be applied in the same fashion. This means your installer will begin attaching all layers starting from the bottom of your roof and work their way up, which affects the flow of water, to keep your home safe from rain. Your shingles will most likely be an asphalt product, or you could opt for clay or concrete tiles. A final defense against weather, one of the most important layers applied in the process, would be flashings, or metal sheets over your vulnerable valleys and ridges. If all layers are attached properly, your entire roof will be strong for decades to come, even the weaker points like valleys. You can see our Basics of a New Roof  post for a few more details on this process.


We hope you are a little clearer with what is happening on your roof. It’s a lot more complicated than you might think! If you need professional roof repair or replacement, give us a call. We make sure our customers fully understand, and are comfortable with, the new-roof or roof-repair process!