Glossary of Roofing Industry Terms


Asphalt – A mixture of bitumens applied to roofing materials during manufacturing. Its primary purpose as a waterproofing agent.

Asphalt shingle – One of the most popular roofing covers in North America, due to the favorable price point and ease of installation. This shingle are manufactured with two types of base materials: fiberglass or organic materials, such as paper.


Blistering – This usually occurs on roofing materials due to moisture, giving the appearance of bubbles.

Buckling – The term used when shingles or their underlayments wrinkle or ripple.

British Thermal Unit (BTU) – The heat that is needed to raise the temperature of a pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.


Channel flashing – A type of flashing used in steep-slope roof construction at roof-to-wall junctures and other roof-to-vertical plane intersections where an internal gutter is required to handle runoff.

Counterflashing – Also referred to as cap flashing, it’s considered the first line of defense against water entering your home or commercial property. It is installed to prevent any water from getting behind the vertical flange of headwall or sidewall flashing.


Downspout – A vertical pipe that carries runoff water from a gutter. Also sometimes called a conductor or leader.


Eaves – The horizontal and lowest edge of a sloped roof. It extends past the exterior wall.

Eaves flashing – An additional layer of material that is applied at the eaves in order to assist in preventing damage from water backup.


Flashing – Metal components used to weatherproof or seal the edges of a roof system. It prevents water seeping in areas such as chimneys, vent pipes, valleys, and joints at vertical walls.


Gable – The triangular section of a wall formed by intersecting roof pitches.


Ice dam – The buildup of ice on a roof that is formed where a warm surface transitions to a cold surface. It often occurs when melting ice refreezes at the overhang of a steep roof.


Membrane – A flexible or semiflexible covering for a roofing system that functions as waterproofing material. It can be composed of one material or more materials laminated together.


Organic Shingles – Shingles made from organic paper products.


Pitch – A numerical measurement of how steep a roof is.


Rafter – One of many internal structural supporting members immediately below the roof deck and its associated loads.


Shingle – A roofing material designed to be overlapped when installed. They are usually flat and rectangular, and come in many different materials, including asphalt, wood, metal, plastic and other composite materials.


Valley – Roof valleys are any area where two adjoining sloped roof planes intersect, creating a V-shaped depression.


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