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Roofing Terms and Definitions

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

Follow us on Instagram to read our "Tuesday Terminology" posts that inspired this post.

To continue with our effort to demystify the roofing industry, we thought it would be helpful to define terms or words commonly found in a roofing proposal. We have heard from many customers that they have received proposals from other contractors in the past filled with language they don't understand.

We like to keep things simple and explain the details so you know exactly what you are looking at. On our Instagram page @simply_roofing we started "Tuesday Terminology". The terms and words below are from our page and we continue to add to it.

Tuesday Terminology

The third day of the week in which SA Roofing will address the technical or special terms used in business associated with residential roofing, specifically terms found on contracts from contractors that customers find especially confusing.

Attic Vent

Attic Vent: "Promotes healthy air flow by exhausting heat from the attic and moisture from inside the house from areas such as the kitchen or bathrooms." These are used in conjuncture with a proper intake ventilation. We prefer metal vents since plastic vents can crack if they are not installed properly and they are prone to cracking and damage from prolonged UV exposure. Make sure you also have a dedicated vent for each bathroom and the kitchen so that all moisture and heat is leaving your house and not collecting in your attic. Proper venting is an important part of the health of your home. It is also important for mental health on a Friday afternoon with your friend and a good drink in your hand.


Decking: is the layer applied over the supporting frame in which the roofing material is applied on top. Also known as roof deck, substrate, sheeting, or sheathing, this layer goes underneath your roof shingles, metal or whatever type of roof you have. At SA Roofing we give the roof deck a thorough inspection when the roof gets torn off to make sure there aren’t any issues with structural integrity, rotting, or any other problems that could be present.

Dormer Dormer: is a roofed structure, often containing a window, that projects vertically beyond the plane of a pitched roof.


Flashing: is, commonly, sheet metal that is used to help with waterproofing transitions between the roof and: valleys, hips, side walls, edges, pipes, and more.

It is installed in a specific way to push water away from the structure.

Hip The Hip: on a roof is the intersection of two roof planes that meet to form a sloping ridge running from the peak to the eave. Hip and ridge shingles are specifically designed for this part of a roof.

Ice & Water Shield

Ice & Water Shield: a self-adhering underlayment that is designed to go between shingles and the roof deck. We like Ice & Water Shield because it is not only self-adhering and self-sealing, but it is also non-permeable which means water can’t go through it. It is used in high water areas such as the eaves and valleys or anywhere that is prone to ice damming or snow build up.


Intake: The part of the attic ventilation system where air enters the attic space - usually located at the soffit. These generally consist of holes in the soffit blocking in varying sizes allowing various amounts of air to enter the attic. Intake is important because it is 50% of the overall operation of a properly vented attic.

NRCA NRCA: National Roofing Contractors Association; we are proud members. This trade Association has been around since 1886. They have help support many contractors; manufacturers; distributors; architects; consultants; engineers; building owners; and city, state and government agencies. We are thankful to have an organization like this to help us stay informed and educated as well as have an ally who is working to make our industry great. Fun Fact: Kendall Ekerson, our Marketing Director is a graduate of their Future Executives Program and President Chris Ekerson is currently enrolled. Check out NRCA here.

Pipe Boot

Pipe Boot: A pre-formed flashing over a vent pipe penetration to seal the roof around the opening. Pipe boots, are also commonly referred to as Pipe Jacks or even Pipe Flashing. This is for waterproofing the vent pipes that come up from your kitchen and bathrooms. A standard pipe boot, such as the one seen in the video, is a great base option when re-roofing your house however, if you are looking for a zero-maintenance solution then we suggest upgrading to a lead pipe boot.

Pitch Pitch: Roof pitch refers to the degree of slope on the roof. This is measured by the number of inches the roof rises vertically for every 12 inches it extends horizontally. For example: A roof that rises vertically 4" across the 12" horizontal plane has a 4-in-12 pitch. This is important in finding how much material will be needed for a roof as the steeper the roof is, the more material will be needed to cover the additional area.

Rake Edge

Rake Edge: The sloped edge of a roof at or adjacent to the first or last rafter. When SA Roofing puts a new roof on your house we install “Big T Metal” rake edge flashing. This supports the overhang of the shingle coming over the rake edge.


Ridge: The ridge of a roof is the horizontal line running the length of the roof where the two roof planes meet. This intersection creates the highest point on a roof, sometimes referred to as the peak.

Ridge Vent

Ridge Vent: is an air exhaust vent installed at the highest point of the roof along the ridge.


Square: of roofing is equal to 100 square feet or a 10 X 10 area. A 20 square roof is 2,000 square feet. This term is often used by contractors to describe how large a roof is and how they will order materials. A good question to ask your contractor would be "How did you come up with the amount of squares?"

Stem Vent

Stem Vent: designed to connect directly to a bathroom or kitchen fan and exhaust the air to the outside. When the fan is turned on, the internal flap opens to let the air out but closes when it's off so that nothing comes from outside into the house.


Underlayment: A secondary barrier protection, installed prior to new shingles. This barrier helps protect against the elements and provides a safe walking surface for the roofers. During a new roof installation, it is an essential component as it acts as a temporary waterproofing layer. A few types of underlayment are felt, synthetic, and Ice & Water Shield. Stay tuned for next week when we discuss Ice & Water Shield.


Valley: a roof valley is formed where two roof slopes meet. Water collects in a valley to flow off the roof. Your choice of valley installation method is critical because, when improperly installed, valleys are risks for serious leaks.

Is there a word or phrase you have heard that has been confusing to you? Leave a comment to let us know and we can add it to our list here.

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