“I know a roof has shingles, but how much more can there be?” you’re presumably thinking. The truth is, your roof is much more than the shingles that you see. You’ll know exactly what you’ll be paying for once you understand the anatomy of your roof when it’s time to replace your roof.

Like any other construction, a roof has its own anatomy, identity, and essential functional sections, which are designed with both practicality and aesthetics in mind. It’s critical to comprehend what those components of a roof imply. If you need a roof replacement, you must first understand how a roof is constructed. I’m referring to the various elements and components that go into making a roof.

When most people view a roof, they think to themselves, “Well, that’s what keeps me dry and secure from the rain and sun,” while others consider a roof to be a work of art to be admired from afar. It’s something to be remembered as an architectural treasure that may generate endless conversation among neighbors, friends, and family members.

Aside from shingles, do you know what makes up a roof? Use this article to become familiar with the common sections of a roof and their layers so you can talk with your roofing contractor with confidence during your next roofing project.



Anatomy of Your Roof

Roof Gable: A roof gable is the triangular piece of the outside wall between the eave and the peak of the roof. A rake is a term used to describe a roof gable.

Roof Valley: The roof valley is the V-shaped intersection of two sloping roofs that meet at an angle to allow water to run down.

Roofing Underlayment: Underlayment is a protective layer of synthetic or felt material that sits on top of the roof deck and beneath the shingles. Synthetic underlayment helps to keep moisture out and prevents water intrusion. Synthetic underlayment is replacing felt like a preferred material due to its demonstrated water resistance and long-term durability.

The second layer is the underlayment, which comes after the decking. It serves as a barrier between any roofing materials and the deck. It is also designed to provide additional insulation, waterproofing, and protection from roof debris accumulation. Underlayment is made of felt paper or synthetic materials and is commonly mistaken for tar paper due to its appearance.

Depending on the geography, environment, and weather conditions in a particular area, different types of underlayment are utilized. Roof underlayment is a roofing material made of felt (15 lb, 30 lb, or synthetic) that sits between your roof decking and your shingles. It’s installed directly on top of your roof decking and adds an extra layer of weather protection. Underlayment is the last line of defense for your roof’s decking if water gets underneath your shingles. Because of its significance, you should get the best underlayment available.

Fastener Attachments: Any roofing materials are attached to the underlayment and deck with fasteners. Roofing nails for asphalt shingles, metal fasteners for tiles, and even bonding, glue, tar, or sticky type paper can be used to adhere certain materials to a roof.

Roof Deck: The roof deck, which is often built of wood or plywood, serves as the structural foundation for the roof system. The deck, also known as sheathing, is the foundation of a roof. It is made out of wood, wafer board, or half-inch plywood panels. The deck or sheathing is the foundation for the rest of the roof. Your roof decking will always be the first layer of your roof. The rest of your roofing materials and components will be put on top of the roof decking. The framing of your complete roof system is made up of hardwood boards (plywood or planks).

If the decking on your roof is rotten or the wood’s integrity has been damaged, it must be replaced before the remainder of the components can be placed. However, until the tear-off operation is completed, your roofing contractor won’t know if or how much decking will need to be replaced.

Roof Ridge: The roof ridge is the horizontal line that runs the length of the roof and connects the two roof planes. The highest point on a roof is created by this intersection, which is commonly referred to as the peak. Hip and ridge shingles are designed specifically for this area of the roof.

Hip: On a roof, the hip is the point where two roof planes meet to form a sloping ridge that runs from the peak to the eave. Hip and ridge shingles are explicitly created for this area of the roof.

Ridge vent:¬†A ridge vent is an attic exhaust vent that runs horizontally along the roof’s peak, allowing warm, humid air to escape. To properly ventilate your roof and attic, your roofing contractor must use a ventilation calculator to assess your attic ventilation requirements and decide how much exhaust ventilation you’ll need.

Vents are what allow a roof to breathe correctly. They remove any moisture-producing buildup on a roof that might lead to mold, mildew, decay, and other undesirable accumulations.

Eave: The lower edge of the roof that overhangs the wall is called an eave, and it is usually seen in the first three feet of a roof.

Undereave vent:¬†Undereave vents are intake vents that are located beneath the roof’s eaves and help bring cold, dry air into the attic.

Ice and water barrier: A self-adhered waterproofing membrane used along eaves, valleys, sidewalls, and other vulnerable locations to guard against ice damage and wind-driven rain is known as an ice and water barrier. Ice and water barrier is a waterproof coating that prevents ice and water damage to your roof. Ice and water barrier will protect your roof decking (asphalt shingles, metal roof, etc.) if water gets underneath your roofing material.

Roof valleys, around penetrations, and on roofs with a 2/12, 3/12, or 4/12 pitch should all have ice and water protection installed. Because of its significance, it is required on every roof.

Dormer: A dormer is a part of the roof that is raised above the rest of the roof. A window that projects vertically through the roof slope is popular in dormers.

Metal drip edge:¬†A metal drip edge is a small strip of corrosion-resistant metal used at the rake and eave to help control dripping water by allowing water discharge and protecting the wall’s underlying part. Gutters and drip edges are critical components of any effective roof design because they move water away from the roof and guide it away from the home’s foundation. Metal flashing inserted at the roof’s edges is known as drip edge (eaves and rakes). Its major aim is to keep water from getting below your roofing components and away

from your fascia. Water will get under your gutters and destroy your fascia board and roof decking if you don’t have a drip edge.

Laminated Architectural Shingles: Laminated architectural asphalt shingles have multiple layers of tabs to give a roof more dimension, performance, and longevity. Architectural shingles are sometimes known as laminated shingles or three-dimensional shingles. Three-tab shingles are the polar opposite of architectural shingles since they are made up of a single layer of tabs and appear flat or without the dimension of a laminated shingle.

Flashing:¬†Flashing is a metal material used to prevent water incursion at joint openings, chimneys, and dormer windows or skylights. Metal stair steps alongside a chimney or sidewalls on a roof are examples of flashing. Flashing is a type of roofing material that is used to conceal and protect specific roof protrusions. It is often made of sheet metal or another durable material. Flashing is used to seal seams and angles on a roof and around chimneys, venting, and other places where water leaks could occur. Water is directed away from the roof’s interior by flashing, which allows water to flow down any gutters or downspouts.

Drainage Allowance: At the framework stage, drainage elements are also integrated. The shape, arrangement, and slope of a roof are all key factors in allowing any water collection to be quickly evacuated from a roof.

Attic Space: An attic is a space beneath the roof. In order to protect a roofing system, this area requires appropriate ventilation. In the summer, ventilation helps prevent heat buildup, while it helps manage warm, damp air in the winter. To keep a house at a fair and comfortable temperature throughout the year, proper ventilation is required.

Understanding the basic anatomy of a roof is crucial because it helps you see the layer-by-layer processes involved in a roof’s production and the pattern and formation of the roof.

Starter shingles: Before the first course of shingles is laid, starter shingles are a pre-cut row of roofing material that goes underneath it. It ensures that protective material is present between the seams where the shingles meet on the edges of your roof. The glue on starter shingles ensures that the initial row of shingles is sealed at the roof’s margins. This adhesive seal improves the wind resistance of your roof.

Soffit:¬†The soffit is a portion of the overhang that connects your roof and siding. When rain or snow falls on your roof, it cascades down, and the overhang directs the water away from your home. Soffits aren’t found on every property (depending on the roof design), but they are a typical feature. The soffit controls your home’s temperature by allowing your roof to “breathe.” Cool, dry air is brought into the soffit vent, while hot, wet air is driven out via roof exhaust vents.

Fascia:¬†The fascia is a beautiful board that runs along the side of the overhang and the roof, completing the look of your roof. Your gutter is installed on top of the fascia board. The fascia is regarded as a “transition trim” between the home and the roofline.” The fascia protects the shingles by supporting them and keeping moisture out.

EcoShield Roofing specializes in roof replacements and repair for metal and shingle roofs. We are a roofing business with all the correct credentials and the required local and state licenses to get your job done right. 

We also offer roof repair and gutter installation to ensure that your roof continues to work properly for years to come. To get started on your new roof, schedule a free estimate now!

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Author: William Sessions

William Sessions started a roofing business in 2018 with a mission to create high-quality roofs for Winston-Salem and surrounding areas. He did jobs for Safeco, Liberty Mutual, All-State, and Nationwide for two years. In that experience, he learned how to properly inspect for Hail, Wind and other damages to shingles that would impact insurance claims. After that, he started his own family business and proudly served roofing service in North Carolina. He leverages his roofing knowledge and provides useful insights through blogs on ecoshieldnc.com