It can be a challenge to decipher the many roofing terms used in the industry today. However, it’s important to be aware of what these terms mean if you’re thinking about investing in residential roof replacement or repair. By understanding the names and terms used to identify roof components, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions regarding replacing or renovating your home’s roof.


A ‘tear-off’ refers to the process professionals use to remove roofing materials ahead of a new roof installation. As the roof is removed, shingles and the supporting structure beneath are inspected for signs of damage.


A soffit refers to the area underneath a roof’s eaves. Soffits are installed anywhere where the roof overhangs beyond the exterior.


The structure beneath your roof supporting the roof deck and the shingles above is called the truss. The truss is the backbone of a roof and is responsible for maintaining its structural integrity.


A roof in which all sides have a downward slope. There are many types of hip roof styles, each with varying degrees of inclines.

Roof Deck

The roof deck is located above the trusses but below the shingles of the roof. Roof decks are typically made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB).


The point at which two sides of a roof meet is referred to as the ridge. The ridge of many homes will run the full length of the roof.

Fire Rating

Fire ratings between C and A are assigned to roofing materials based on their ability to resist fire. Materials like metal or concrete tiles are Class-A fire rated.


The valley of a roof is the opposite of a ridge. In other words, a valley is where two roof slopes meet at a downward angle.


A roof penetration is any part of the roof which is vulnerable to leaks. Roof-installed satellite dishes or skylights are examples of penetration points. Roof repair should be done quickly to seal open penetrations.


The term granules refer to the coarse material found on top of asphalt roofing shingles. Granules are usually made out of ground-up stones and will begin to flake off of shingles as the roof ages.

Drip Edge

Drip edges are pieces of flashing installed at the very edge of a roof. The main job of the drip edge is to keep water from impacting the fascia.


Flashing is a term used to define a piece of metal material installed to create a watertight barrier on certain vulnerable areas of the roof. One important place to have roof flashing properly installed is along the edge of the chimney.

Fascia and Eave

The fascia is the side of the roof and can be seen directly behind the gutter system. An eave is defined as any overhanging portion of the roof edge which extends beyond the house.


A ‘square’ in the roofing industry is 100 square feet of measured roof area. This term is used by professionals when determining the number of shingles or roofing tiles needed to complete a job.

Underlayment or Felt

The term underlayment refers to any insulating or waterproofing materials laid just beneath the shingles but above the roof deck. Felt is a popular form of underlayment used in residential roof installation.

Vapor Barrier

Vapor barriers are insulating sheets responsible for preventing condensation and water vapors from accumulating in the home. Vapor barriers are usually made out of metallic materials or plastic.


Vents on the roof are installed to ensure proper ventilation throughout the attic space. Overheating of the roof can occur if there is not adequate ventilation.


A rafter is an alternative roof framework to trusses. Rafters are boards laid from the ridge of the roof down to the edge.

Slope or Pitch

The slope or pitch of the roof indicates the angle of a roof’s incline on any side.

If you’d like to learn more about residential roofing terminology, contact our friendly team of experts at Couto Construction. As a family-owned and operated company, we understand how important it is for you to find quality craftsmanship when it comes to repairing or replacing your roof. Since 1987, our roofing specialists have served clients throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts, building a reputation as a trusted industry leader. Call us today for guidance replacing the roof on your Cape Cod, Newport, or Providence home. If your roof is only slightly damaged, let one of our team members conduct an inspection and provide a free, accurate repair estimate. No matter what you need, Couto Construction is here to help.