Roofing Terminology (A-E)

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Knowing common roofing terminology will enable you as a homeowner to make an informed decision about roofing materials that are good matches for your home’s style and the region in which you live. It will also help you understand the contract with your roofing professional and the project updates.
Some key roofing terms are listed below:

Asphalt: A waterproofing agent applied to roofing materials during manufacturing.

Asphalt plastic roofing cement: An asphalt-based sealant used to bond roofing materials. Also known as flashing cement, roof tar, bull or mastic.

Back surfacing: Granular material applied to the back side of shingles to keep them from sticking during delivery and storage.

Base flashing: That portion of the flashing attached to or resting on the deck to direct the flow of water onto the roof.

Built-up roof: Multiple layers of asphalt and ply sheets bonded together.

Butt edge: The bottom edge of the shingle tabs.

Caulk: To fill a joint to prevent leaks.

Closed valley: The valley flashing is covered by shingles.

Coating: A layer of viscous asphalt applied to the outer roof surface to protect the roof membrane.

Collar: Pre-formed flange placed over a vent pipe to seal the roof around the vent pipe opening. Also called a vent sleeve.

Concealed nail method: Application of roll roofing in which all nails are covered by a cemented, overlapping course.

Counter flashing: That portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface above the plane of the roof to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.

Course: Row of shingles that can run horizontally, diagonally or vertically.

Cricket: A peaked water diverter installed at the back of a chimney to prevent accumulation of snow and ice and to deflect water.

Deck: The top surface of which a roof system is applied, surface installed over the supporting framing members.

Double coverage: Asphalt roofing whose lapped portion is at least two inches wider than the exposed portion, resulting in two layers of roofing material over the deck.

Downspout: A pipe for draining water from roof gutters to drain. Also called a leader.

Drip edge: L-shaped flashing used along the eaves and rakes to allow water run-off into the gutters and to drip clear of underlying construction.

Eave: The part of the roof that overhangs or extends outward and is not directly over the exterior walls or the buildings interior.

Exposed nail method: Application of roll roofing where nails are driven into the overlapping course of roofing. Nails are exposed to the elements.

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