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Roofs and Roofing Terms

Roofs and Roofing Terms By Miriam Kasdan
HIPhome Columnist
December 31, 1969

Before you consult with a roofing contractor about that leaky roof, you should familiarize yourself with some roofing terms. Here's a brief glossary to get you started.
  • Built-up Roof: A roofing material applied in sealed, waterproof layers.
  • Cornice: Horizontal protection at the top of a wall or under the overhanging part of the roof.
  • Eaves: The extension of roof beyond house walls.
  • Flashing: Non-corrosive metal that's used around angles or junctions of roofs or interior walls to prevent leaks.
  • Gambrel Roof: A roof with two pitches, designed to provide more space on upper floors.
  • Gutter: A channel at the eaves for conveying rainwater away.
  • Hip: The external angle formed by the juncture of two slopes of a roof.
  • Hip Roof: A roof that slants upward on three or four sides.
  • Pitch: The angle or slope of a roof.
  • Rake: The sloped edge of a roof, running from the eaves to the ridge.
  • Ridge Pole: A thick plank to which a roof's ridge rafters are attached.
  • Roof Sheathing: Sheets, usually made of plywood, which are nailed to the top edges of trusses or rafters to tie the roof together and support the roofing material.
  • Shakes: Hand-cut wood shingles.
  • Shingles: Pieces of wood, asbestos, or other material used as an overlapping outer covering on walls or roofs.
  • Soffit: The visible underside of structural members, such as a roof overhang.
  • Valley: The depression at the meeting point of two roof slopes.
  • Verge: The edge of tiles, slates, or shingles projecting over the gable of a roof.

With these terms memorized, you can easily discuss roofing terms with a contractor, and nothing, except your roof, will go over your head.

About the Author
Miriam Kasdan has been writing and editing marketing and technical materials for almost 20 years and specializes in home improvement features. Miriam earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley.

*Before you apply any of the advice described on the Hip-home.com website, you should consider if the advice is safe and suitable for your individual home situation and consult experts as necessary to evaluate the suitability for your circumstances.
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