LA Design + Construction

Roofing Lingo – Keeping Up with the Contractor Conversation

Roofing Lingo – Keeping Up with the Contractor Conversation

When your roofing contractor speaks, it can seem like another language. In reality, there are just special names for the different parts of your roof. Check out some of the most popular terms and keep up with the conversation!

Built-up Roof

On low-slope roofs, alternating layers of roofing felt and mopped roof tar create a thick layer. It’s then covered with gravel.


A portion of the roof that hangs out over the wall of a house. It also goes by the less creative name of overhang. Note that a cornice is also a decorative feature.


Where the roof and the wall meet, there are two layers of flashing, one from the wall up and another from the roof down.


Courses is the name for the horizontal rows of shingles or tiles.


The drip is part of the overhang. It’s designed to keep water from running back out over the outside of the walls.


The underside of the overhang, usually equipped with vents.


A flat piece of board that runs between the top of the wall and the eaves.


Usually metal, but can be rubber or fiberglass, this is a pliable material used to seal around chimneys, pipes, etc.


Once made from wool and asphalt, ‘felt’ is now typically made from fiberglass and a sticky asphalt-like material.


The triangle top of a wall that fits inside a peaked roof.


The convex peak of a roof. Also refers to a roof style where all the roof angles connect directly to the walls.


On a flat roof, joists are wooden ‘beams’ that the sheathing is nailed to.


This is a slanted beam that goes from the walls to the peak. Sheathing is nailed to rafters.


This is the edge of a gabled roof that extends out past the wall.


The convex peak of a roof where two roofs meet.


Usually plywood or composite board, sheathing is made up of the large flat sheets that are nailed to rafters and joists.

Shingle Flashing

Created when a sheet of metal or rubber is laid under shingles, then run up a chimney or adjoining wall.


The same as pitch, this is the ratio of the rise of the roof in inches per linear foot.


Soffits are boards that enclose the overhang.


This is a measure of roof size that represents 100 square feet. Proposals are often written with a cost per square.


This is the same as felt. This type of fiberglass fabric is rolled onto the roof before adding shingles, tiles, metal sheets, or hot tar.