The Vocabulary of a Roof


When you need to have a roof replaced or repaired you may find that your Philadelphia area roofer is speaking with a vocabulary you don’t understand. To make sure you understand what is going on and that you can ask the right questions, it is good to have a basic roof vocabulary.

  • Shingles: One of the most basic pieces of a roof are the shingles. They are the top visible layer. Shingles are frequently made of asphalt, but you may also have cedar shingles or another composite material. In addition to shingles, a roof may also be slate tiles, ceramic tiles, or metal.
  • Dormer: The small framed vertical projection, likely holding a window, on the slope of your roof is a dormer. Many times dormers offer natural light into upper floor bedrooms and also give you added usable space.
  • Gable: A gable is the triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof.
  • Gable Vents: As the name implies this is a vent located near the very top of your gable. You can see this vent from the outside. Vents bring fresh air into your attic, which is important to keep your attic from overheating. Ventilation can protect the roof sheathing, insulation and shingles from temperature and moisture extremes, which can prevent condensation.

This would be a good time to have your Philadelphia area roofer check your ventilation system to make sure everything is still working properly. Even if your ventilation system was properly installed at the time you built your roof, it may no longer be working efficiently. Like all aspects of your roof, regular maintenance is important.

  • Eaves: Eaves are the portion of the roof that overhangs your exterior wall.
  • Soffit: The soffit is the underside of the eaves. It is what you see as you stand underneath the eaves and look up. Soffits can be a solid piece or vented to allow fresh air into your attic space.

Your roof includes three main areas where the roof meets itself. These three edges all have different names. From the top of your roof down they are:

  • Ridge: This is the highest point of your sloped roof. It is the edge that runs the length of your roof. You may also find vents along this ridge.
  • Hip: The hip is an external angle that is formed by two slopes of your roof meeting.
  • Valley: Just the opposite from a hip, the valley is the internal angle formed by two slopes of your roof meeting.

Your Philadelphia area roofer can also update your gutters. Gutters not working properly can dump water on to your home and into your foundation and basement.

  • Gutters: Gutters are a channel attached to the lower edge of your roof line. They move water to your downspouts or leader pipes. Gutters range from seamless metal gutter to custom pole gutters to custom copper gutters.
  • Downspout: This is the pipe that will take water from your gutters down to the ground and away from your home.

There are a number of protrusions out of many roofs. You roof is installed around these things and they often come into play when doing repairs.

  • Chimney: A chimney exhausts smoke and other fumes from your home for this reason it is usually made of brick or stone. Chimneys typically are located in one of two places. They either run up next to your roof or protrude out of the slope of your roof.
  • Pipes: Various types of pipes can protrude through your roof, such as stack pipes or ventilation pipes.
  • Flashing: A flashing is where a roof meets any penetration, like a chimney or pipe. By flashing these areas, it prevents water from penetrating your roof.

When you’re reroofing your home or having repairs done it is helpful to speak the same language as your Philadelphia area roofer. Knowing the anatomy of a roof can make it easier to understand the work you are having done. Catalfano Brothers will take the time to explain anything you don’t understand about your roofing project. Call us today at 215-884-1266 for your free estimate!

If you are looking for a Delaware Valley Roofing Contractor or Roofer in Northern Philadelphia, please call 215-884-1266 or complete our request estimate form.