The foundation is the most critical component of a house, but the roof comes in a close second. The primary function is to protect you from the elements, and it is the roof that accomplishes (or fails to accomplish) that goal. A strong roof will keep you safe from rain, snow, wind, heat, cold, and everything in between. A bad roof will leak, wobble in the wind, collapse in the snow, and generally be a pain for the duration of your ownership.
That brings us to the second reason why a strong roof is essential. Repairing a damaged roof will be extremely costly and time-consuming. You never want to be in the position of needing emergency roof repairs if at all possible. That is is why it is crucial to be aware of the different parts of a roof and their functions.
Read on to learn more about these various components.
Table of Contents
- 1. Shingles
- 2. Truss
- 3. Covering
- 4. Rafters
- 5. Fascia
- 6. Ridge
- 7. Ridge Tile
- 8. Eave
- 9. Valley
- 10. Downspout
- 11. Ceiling Joists
- 12. Soffits
- 13. Underlayment
- 14. Battens
- 15. Skylight
- 16. Chimney Flashing
- 17. Felt Underlayment
- 18. Insulation
- 19. Gutter
- 20. Splash Block
- 21. Rake
- 22. Sidewall
- 23. Hip
- 24. Flat Roof
- 25. Dormer
- 26. Abutment
- 27. Low Pitch Areas
- 28. Drip Edge
- 29. Collar Beam
- 30. Chimney
- 31. Ice and water protector
- 32. Lookout
- 33. Solid Decking
- 34. Attic
- 35. Vents
- 36. Deflector
Because shingles are the first line of defense against weather elements. They must be as tough and weather-resistant as possible. Shingles are a thick, tar-like material resistant to rot. The weight and weather resistance of shingles are the two most important factors to consider. You want the shingles to be as light as possible, but we also don’t want them to give way to rain. Wooden shingles were prevalent in older houses and are less frequent now due to their lack of durability.
“Truss” is the name for the overarching roof section that includes many of the parts described below. A “truss” consists of many different pieces, such as rafters and ridge rafters. The truss supports the covering, sheathing, underlayment, insulation, and other roof components, such as a skylight or chimney. Additionally, it functions as a support for the roof.
The covering is a catch-all term for anything nailed or secured to the rafters to keep the elements out. The covering may consist of various materials, including iron, tile, slate, or synthetic lining. It must be both light and resistant to substances such as rain, sleet, bird droppings, dirt, wet leaves, and the muck that accumulates on a roof over time. Many factors will influence your choice of covering, including your budget, the weather you live in, and the type of house you are building.
You can find rafters running from one end of the roof to the other, supporting the rest of the roof. Rafters are typically made of wood because it is a robust and pliable material. However, they can also consist of metal, particularly in industrial buildings and high rises. Everything else, from the insulation to the covering, is supported by the rafters.
The fascia is a relatively thin roofing material that runs parallel to the ground along the roof’s edges. It is attached to the rafters and may also serve as gutter support. Many homeowners prefer aesthetically pleasing fascia to contribute to the facade of the house and thus increase the property’s value. Homebuilders on a budget may decide to forego a fancy fascia in favor of a more cost-effective option. Simple wood will often suffice, provided it is treated and painted.
A ridge is on various roof types, including pitched, gambrel, gable, and mansard. A pitched roof, for example, is a very common roof found in many suburban houses. It forms the traditional upside-down ‘V’ shape. The ridge is at the highest point of the roof, where the two opposing sides meet. The ridge could be compared to the roof’s “keystone.”
7. Ridge Tile
The ridge tile is the point at which two different continuous sections meet. As a result, it has a gap penetrated by uncontrollable elements, notably rain and animals. Ridge tiles function to prevent the entry of these elements. The ridge tile may stand out from the rest of the roof or have the same tiling or shingling.
The eave of a roof is the lowest point of a roof. In a pitched roof, it is the point that is farthest away from the ridge. This spot is where rain drips off the roof, which makes it the ideal spot for gutters. The eave is also the last point on the roof with singles, so it is often the point where shingles begin to peel off in a windstorm or deteriorate from rot.
While not every house or building will have a valley roof, they are still fairly common. The valley is the point at which two pitched roofs meet and form a right angle. Onlookers will see this as a ‘V.’ Because it is a valley, it is very common for rainwater, leaves, and other debris to accumulate. As a result, valleys are frequently equipped with their gutters to transport garbage away.
The downspout is the pipe that runs vertically from the roof to the ground and connects to the gutter. Its purpose is to direct rainwater to the designated point of outflow. It’s usually made of metal, like galvanized steel, but it can also be plastic. Downspouts are critical to a properly functioning roof because their failure can render the entire gutter system inoperable.
11. Ceiling Joists
Ceiling joists consist of wood planks and run along the rafters. They are used to strengthen the rafter and support soffits such as an arch, balcony, or eaves.
Between the wall, fascia, and eaves are the soffit. The rafters and ceiling joists hide behind a soffit. Its primary function is to keep the elements out and to insulate the building.
The underlayment is a waterproof material composed of a synthetic sheet, rubber strips, and felt. It installs over the roof’s substructure beneath the shingles to keep the roof waterproof and insulated from the elements.
Battens, also known as roofing laths, are made of wooden or metal strips that hold tiles and shingles in place. The spacing of the battens is critical for installing tiles and shingles correctly and securely. Battens install horizontally, and the spacing can vary depending on the type of roofing.
A skylight is a luxury feature that you may notice on some houses or buildings. It is essentially a window, but it is on the roof. Installing a skylight can be a complicated and risky process, as a skylight is more likely to leak water than no skylight. However, they are a great feature to add to a roof because they allow natural lighting to illuminate the interior of a house. If you’re thinking about installing a skylight on your roof, ensure it’s properly sealed and insulated to avoid leaks.
16. Chimney Flashing
Flashings come in a variety of materials, such as aluminum, galvanized steel, and plastic. Its primary function is to keep water from passing through roof openings and other critical areas of the roof where it could pool. As a result, it installs in roof valleys, vents, chimneys, and skylights. Ponding water is redirected in many parts of the roof by various types of roof flashing.
Chimney flashing: This is another type of waterproofing material installed at the chimney and the roof intersection. It keeps moisture from entering the home through the roof.
Vent pipe flashing: it installs on the roof from the outside. It acts as a sealant to the vent pipe, preventing water from entering through surrounding openings.
Valley flashing: it is installed along the valley line of the roof, hence the name. It also serves as a roofing waterproofing material.
Skylight flashing: it is a waterproofing fixture that installs between the glass and the frame of a skylight. It is applied on top of skylight sealants to keep moisture from accumulating on the glass surface.
Dormer flashing: This type of flashing protects the roof from water damage. It installs beneath the sides and on top of the roof’s steel, at the bottom or end wall of the dormer.
17. Felt Underlayment
Felt underlayment is typically found beneath the shingles and should be considered part of the overall underlayment. The underlayment’s job is to protect the house from the elements, and the felt underlayment adds additional insulation. It is usually placed beneath synthetic material not to get wet.
One of the most important components of a roof is insulation. Most people are aware that a house or building has insulation, but few consider insulating their roof. Regardless, it is just as important to insulate the roof as it is the walls. If there is poor roof insulation, heat will escape through the roof and disappear, leaving the house cold all winter! You might be able to see this insulation if you go into a roof’s attic. It will frequently resemble cotton or thick spongy material. Do not poke it or otherwise tamper with it in any way. Otherwise, it will compromise the insulation, resulting in poor climate control and high energy bills.
The gutter is a long basin attached to the roof’s eaves to catch rain and melting snow. Gutters consist of galvanized metal or plastic. Gutters are difficult to maintain because it is very easy for leaves to become entangled in them and clog rain drainage. As a result, the water will back up and overflow the gutter, potentially seeping into the roof and rotting the shingles and wood.
20. Splash Block
The splash block is installed on the roof to prevent gutter overflow and rust thanks to its plastic or galvanized metal. The splash block is almost as important as the gutters because gutter overflow and seepage into the roof will cause leaks, insulation problems, and roof rot.
The rake, while considered one of several roof sections, is not found on the roof. It refers to the sloped sides at the ends of a gabled roof. It can be either flat or have overhangs. Overhanging rakes can be left open or closed with fascia or soffit. It can also be customized to match the aesthetics of the roof.
It is a type of wall used in roof flashing (a waterproofing material used to prevent water infiltration), specifically in base and step flashing. Sidewalls, like front walls, are vertical walls that intersect the surface of the roof deck. It connects the sloping roof deck’s edges.
It is the external angle that serves as the intersection where two sloping sides of a roof meet. The hip end is a related term that refers to the triangular sloping surface formed by intersecting hips in the roof’s edge/eaves. Hipped roofs are common in snowy and windy areas because ice slides easily off the slants.
24. Flat Roof
It is a type of roof structure that is one of the oldest roof types. It adds usable space to the roof, hence also known as a living roof. Places with arid climates and commercial buildings frequently use flat roofs. It is cost-effective because it is simple to install and does not sustain any damages, resulting in lower repair costs.
It is also referred to as the dormer window because it houses the skylight. It protrudes from the roof surface or extends beyond the plane of a pitched roof. Dormers increase usable space in small rooms/lofts. For example, suppose you want to convert your attic into an extra room. In that case, a dormer will be beneficial because it will provide natural light and additional ventilation, allowing for better airflow and fresh air.
It is a term used specifically in bridge construction and roofing. In building roof systems, abutment refers to the spaces in the roof where the roof’s slope intersects to a vertical area such as chimneys or walls. They connect on the top, side, or vertical areas.
27. Low Pitch Areas
They are also known as low slope areas or simply low spots. Low pitch areas are the lowest slopes in the entire roofing system. Ponding, on the other hand, is more common in low-pitch areas. Ponding can damage the roof sheaths and wood rafters over time if not repaired with high-quality putty.
28. Drip Edge
It’s a type of metal flashing used to protect the roof’s underlying fixtures. It is installed along the eaves to redirect the flow of water away from the fascia. Drip edges hang from the sides of the roof. Additionally, has a small metal flange that is bent away from the fascia. Some argue that the drip edge is no longer necessary because the gutter performs nearly the same function. However, it is a functional feature.
29. Collar Beam
Domestic roofs mainly use collar beams. They have a horizontal shape and connect two rafters that intersect at the ridge to stabilize the roof structure. The function of a collar beam is to frame the structure of the ceiling.
It is a well-known structure, but many people are unaware that it is a roofing system component. This vertical structure connected to the roof serves as ventilation by exhausting smoke and other combustion gases from the stove, boiler, or fireplace into the atmosphere.
31. Ice and water protector
They are also known as ice and water shields. They aren’t always necessary, but some states require them in their building codes. These shields are essentially underlayments that prevent ice dams and heavy, wind-driven rains. They install in three areas of the roof: the eaves and rakes to protect the roof interior from frost; the roof valleys where water may collect; and the flashings and chimneys to allow wind-driven rains to flow back up.
Also referred to as a roof outlooker or a lookout rafter, the lookout is a wooden joist extending from a building’s wall plate to the cantilever. The lookout serves as a surface for nailing the fascia boards and a support structure for the roof sheathing. Additionally, it functions as a joist for fastening the finished materials of the eaves.
33. Solid Decking
Roof decking is a solid-material composite decking. Although it looks like real wood, it is sturdier and supports a heavier roof load. It provides additional protection between the roof and the house and an additional surface for underlayment and shingles for extra weatherproofing. Solid deckings are flat boards that firmly attach in trusses and stretch across the roof on joists.
The area beneath the roof. During construction, the attic is vented to protect the roofing system from excessive heat in the summer and warm wet air created by the home in the winter.
These metal or plastic-encased devices with apertures and fins ensure proper ventilation in the attic. The best vents have four open sides and rise above the roof, allowing them to gather airflow from all directions and create a suction effect.
The deflector is a piece of polystyrene or cardboard installed between two rafters to allow unrestricted airflow over the insulation near the soffits. Under the decking, there should be at least 2 inches of room.