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Comprehensive Guide to Roofing Terms

Bald spots

Bald spots can appear on your shingles. This means that your shingles are losing their granules, and your roof is in danger of water damage.


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Blisters can form both in the paint on roof boards and on shingles. Blisters are often an effect of water damage. If you notice blisters in your roof then schedule a roof inspection as soon as possible to address any damage to your home.


Shingles can start to curl around the edges when they are nearing the end of their lifespan. This could be due to age or poor ventilation. Curling shingles put your home at risk for leaks and water damage.


A dormer is a type of window that rises vertically out of the slope in a roof.


The downspout is the part of the gutter system that drains the water to the ground. Make sure this isn’t blocked because water can build up in your gutters and cause water damage to your roof.

Drip Edge

Drip edge is a metal flashing that is installed at the edges of the roof. It overhangs the rides of the roof and has a small metal flange that is bent away from the fascia. This helps control the flow of water away from the fascia and to protect the underlying roofing components. It is non-corrosive and non-staining so that your roof looks good but is structurally stable.


Eaves are the parts of the roof that hang over the edge on the property. If you’re looking at a house and you see part of the roof goes past the walls of the house, that is the eaves. The purpose of these is to improve ventilation in the building.


Fascia are the boards that face outward beneath your roofline. If the paint on these boards is blistering or peeling away, your fascia may be suffering from water damage.


Flashing is the material that is used to seal out water from leak-prone areas of your roof such as chimneys, skylights, and vents. It is typically made of non-corrosive materials, like copper or aluminum. This helps to prevent moisture growth and roofing damage. When flashing is damaged or broken, it can’t block out water the way it’s supposed to, and leaks can occur. This is a problem you need to address immediately, because even a small leak can turn into a huge problem very quickly.

Flat Roof

A flat roof has less of a pitch than the other styles of roofs. It is meant to protect a building from more arid climates, though it is a popular style for commercial buildings and schools.

Gable Roof

A gable roof is the typical triangular-shaped roof. It has two sloped parts joining at the top of the building. This is the type of roof commonly associated with homes.


Granules are the top layer of a shingle. They give durability to the shingle and protect it from UV rays and water damage. Some degree of granule loss is expected over the course of the shingle’s lifespan. However, as the shingles approach the end of their lifespan, granule loss increasingly becomes severe to the point where bald patches start to appear on the roof or granules start to accumulate in the gutters. Without these granules, it’s only a matter of time until cracks – and subsequently – leaks start to form.


The hip is where two adjacent slopes meet on the side. It spans from the eave to the ridge.

Hip Roof

A hip has a slope on each of its four sides, and they connect at the top to form a ridge. It resembles the shape of a triangular prism. This type of roof is common in areas that suffer from extreme weather like high winds or heavy snow.

Ice and Water Shield

Ice and water shield is a thick, self-adhesive, spongy material that seals around nails and staple holes, and is laid down along valleys and sometimes hips. This material does not allow water to penetrate the roof and helps combat water infiltration from ice dams. Every roofer in water prone areas, such as the Midwest, shields along the bottom edge of the roof with ice and water shield.

Ice Dam

Ice dams generally occur at the outer edge of the roofing. After snowfall, warm air from your home melts the snow and ice at the top of the roof then freezes again when it reaches the cold outer edge before it can be safely carried away in the gutters. This leaves a blockage that stops any runoff. Melted snow at the ridges of your roof with snow buildup on the outer edges and formation of icicles in the gutter are a good sign of ice dams. The resulting standing water can significantly damage your shingles.


The pitch is the steepness of your roof. Another word for pitch is slope .This is important as the effectiveness of shingles to shed water off your roof is determined by the slope of your roof.


Ponding is the effect of water not draining from a flat roof. A pond starts to form, and after it has been there for a few days, your property is in danger of water damage.


Ridges are where two slopes meet at the top of the building. They often need a particular type of shingle to cover them.

Roof Deck

Decking is the wooden foundation structure that surrounds your attic, on top of which the underlayment and shingles sit. It comprises rafters and sheathing to support the weight of your roof. This part of the roof is required to be strong, otherwise your roof will collapse in on itself. If there is water damage to the roof deck, then


Sagging refers to the appearance of your rood. When looking at your roof from a distance, it should appear flat. If you notice that the roof looks uneven or like it’s sagging, there’s a problem.


The wide expanses of wood between rafters are sheets of sheathing. Sheathing is generally plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), both of which are wood products. This material is not waterproof and can become damaged if there’s a leak.

Shed Roof

A shed roof consists of a singular slope, and has one wall on the side of the slope that is taller than on the other. These are most common in small buildings like sheds, huts or garages.


The soffit is the underside of the roof that hangs over the edge of a house. It often helps with ventilation.


Underlayment is a thin, stapled material that helps seal around nails and staple holes. Your roof deck is covered in this waterproof material. Underlayment is yet another barrier against water damage to your home and it also adds another layer of protection and insulation.


Valleys are the low spots on your roof that gathers a lot of water. These areas are often prone to leaking, so keep an eye out for debris stopping water from running off of your roof.

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