Key Parts of a Roof

If you need a roofing company to install a new roof or to make a roof repair, you actually don’t need to know a single thing about your roof. Just bring money, and contract with a quality roofing contractor, and everything will likely turn out okay.

Finding quality roofers is 90 percent of the battle. Nevertheless, you may be curious about what you are paying $6,000 to $10,000 or more for. 

Here’s a rundown. 


Very few people don’t know what shingles are. Shingles are in a manner of speaking the final effect.

They come in all types of models, from 3-tab asphalt shingles to high-end slate and wood shake shingles. They protect your roof after the decking is in place.

Your roof ridge 

Technically known as the ridge board, it’s the horizontal wood or metal resting at your roof peak, and creating the triangle effect. Your roof ridge is connected to the trusses and rafters 

Roof valley 

When two sloped roofs meet at a 90-degree angle, this is a roof valley. There will be a valley rafter underneath which hold the internal gutter, where water and debris are externalized to the external gutter. 

Getting rid of the water that falls on the roof is critical, so roof valleys are a critical part of roof installation. 

The Eaves 

The eaves are the lowest point of the roof, also called the roof edges. Eaves not only help the water trickle down but support the gutters underneath. 


Located between the roof walls and the roof eaves, the soffit protects the rafters inside from environmental damage. 


Sidewalls go at the end of the house and connect the vertical walls with the surface of the roof deck. 


You don’t want water pooling on your roof, so at the places where water is likely to pool, flashing, either being aluminum, galvanized steel, or plastic is placed to avoid that.

Flashing is used around chimneys, vent pipes, valleys, and skylights. 


Frequently called a dormer window, this is additional space that extends from internal to the external roof, and allows for additional space such as loft in the house. 


Abutments are spaces in the roof where there is an intersection between the roof and a chimney or wall. 

Low pitched areas 

Low pitched areas, in particular around flat roofs are areas where water can pool, so they have to be fortified with putty to seal them in. 


Free Images - bestof:architecture modern building facade  roof inside abstract metal structure metallic railway station düsseldorf  design metal rods corrosion metal tubes

The downspout is the spout leading from the gutter to the ground below. While seemingly simple, it is extremely important that they be placed so that the water flows away from the downspout and does not pool and flood your basement. 

Drip Edge 

A drip edge is an additional protection from water. It is essentially metal flashing, which connects with the fascia of the house. Some say modern houses do not need drip edges but it is nice to have. 


Fascia are the other boards connecting the roof to the wall. Fascia serves two purposes. First, it is aesthetically pleasing, and two it provides additional support of strength for the outer gutter system. 

The gutter system 

There are essentially two gutters an internal gutter and the external. The internal gutter allows rain and debris to trickle down to the external gutter.

The external gutter system does most of the work, and it is essential that the gutter be installed at a slight angle to make sure water is pushed away from the house. Otherwise, water falling too close to your home may weaken the foundation. 

The rafter 

The rafter is essentially the skeleton of your roof. It holds the entire thing together and thus it is critical that your contractor brace the rafters thoroughly as everything hand on them. 


Made of felt, rubber, or fiberglass the underlayment provides a blanket of protection to keep the roof from absorbing too much water and are installed directly atop the roof deck. 

There is typically underlayment around your chimney and your roof valleys in particular. 

The chimney 

Everyone knows what a chimney is, but chimneys are part of the roof system to allow critical gasses to escape.

Ice and water shields 

Not every roof has them but they are a type of underlayment that prevents ice and water from building up. 

Roof decking 

Typically made out of composite materials, this is the material that holds all of the weight atop the rafters and trusses.