Form and Function: What Makes a Roof

by / Tuesday, 01 March 2022 / Published in Roofing Systems

California-based roofing contractors educate their clients about roofing terminology.

What are the Different Parts of the Roof and How Do They Function?

A roof is more than just a roof when it is examined by all of its parts. The typical triangular-shaped roof of elementary school drawings is all but nonexistent in today’s housing construction market. Roofers use a long list of terms for the various parts of the roof, both in the design or angles of a roof and the physical layers that make up the roof.  

This article will shed light on both these areas as well as supplementary terminology. The next time you need a roofing inspection or roof repair you will be able to voice your concerns more clearly to the roofing company.

Physical Aspects 

In this section, we will discuss the various layers and materials that make up a roof. There are five basic parts of a roof and each is essential for the roof to do its job of keeping the outdoors out.

  • Support Structure: This is the first layer and is made up of the trusses and beams that fill the attic space of a home. This is essentially the roof’s skeleton.
  • Sheathing:  This thin layer of plywood forms the solid base of the exterior roof. Everything else is attached to this layer. 
  • Underlayment: This layer is the beginning of the waterproofing. The thick black material covers the plywood and acts as a protective and insulating layer just underneath the tougher shingles layer.
  • Shingles: Shingles are like the exterior armor of the home. They are waterproof and tough, able to take a serious battering from the elements.
  • Guttering: While the angle of the roof is intended to remove water, guttering gives that water someplace to go. This protects the foundation of the home from water damage.

Design Aspects

This section is more about the topography of the roof, where and what is located there. As previously mentioned, roofs are usually created with at least one peak to keep precipitation from pooling and causing damage. This topmost point, the top of the triangle on a traditional roof, is called the ridge. Here are a few of the other terms associated with certain places on the roof:

  • Hips: The hip of a roof is the smaller peaks of a multi-level roof. 
  • Valley: The valley is the v-shaped area where two roof angles meet.
  • Gable:  This is a triangular top of a window that is inset into a roof.
  • Dormer: Like a gable, this is a panel with a window that is set into the roof, though larger and flat on top.
  • Saddle: The area of the roof where the chimney sits.
  • Eaves: The area just under the edge of the roof.

General Roofing Terminology

This section is something of a catch-all area. Most of the items in the following list are building materials that help make up the roof. This list is not complete, but it will give a homeowner or client a place to start in understanding what is involved in roofing maintenance and roofing replacement.

  • Flashing
  • Laminated architectural shingles
  • Asphalt shingles
  • Clay tiles
  • Plumbing vent
  • Eaves vent
  • Soffit

About Modern Method Roofing

After 63 years of operation, Modern Method Roofing has plenty of experience and the sort of reliability you can count on. Call us today for any roofing and guttering needs in the Napa area. 

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