One of the hurdles homeowners face when researching their roofing options is the number of roofing-specific terms. Being familiar with such terms can help you make informed decisions when consulting with a roofing contractor and let you get the best roofing system that your home deserves. You might not know what are organic shingles, or other technical roof component definitions that could be useful in a conversation with a contractor. Having a good understanding of basic roofing terminology is easy when you have Stapleton Roofing’s expert team of roofers to help. We make roofing definitions helpful for you and concise. The following are some of these often-used terms.

Defining Common Roof Terminology to Know

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Working with roofers can be a challenge when it comes to technical terminology. A great roofing company will take the time do define the terms they use and avoid confusion for you, and knowing the definitions to some common roof terminology can help from a client’s side as well. You may have heard terms thrown around and asked yourself questions like what are organic shingles or what does it mean to say you’re installing roof underlayment? Here is a handful of technical roof component definitions and some of the materials for roof components that are commonly seen. This glossary could give you an advantage in technical roofing conversations that have come into use over the years of the roofing industry.

You never know when having a knowledge of a few of the most commonly used roofing terms used can be useful to you. Finding a reliable roofing professional to help you with your roof is important. Whether you are simply getting an inspection and consultation about the roof on your home, you need a replacement of your roof structure and roofing material to update the look of the home you currently have, you are performing basic routine maintenance on your commercial roof, or you need a complete recoating on your roof to reinforce and strengthen its surface, you should always know who you can turn to.

Stapleton Roofing, a contractor trusted by Arizona residents and business owners for generations, does quality work in roofing and roof maintenance. We are here to answer all your roofing term definition questions and provide a wealth of knowledge and insight in case you should ever need to get the facts straight from the experts. We are also here to help you with your roofing needs if you are in the Southwest. Not only can you find out all you ever wanted to know about roofing, you can find out why Arizona loves our roofing services and prefers us for their roofing projects and needs.

Read on to glean our fantastic insights and information that will be useful to you, no matter your level of involvement in roofing for your home or business. You can always refer back to our glossary in the future as needed, and we will be here for you, ready to connect and answer further questions you may come across as you research roofers and their work.

Common Roofing Terms and Their Definitions

Get to know your roofing system and the roofing terminology that pertains to it. You may find that having a bit of knowledge about roofing may give you an advantage when finding the best services and products the roofing industry has to offer, and recognizing the true professionals in the realm of roofing services.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt roofing shingles are the most popular type of roofing material. They have three layers: a backing material typically made of fiberglass, a middle layer of asphalt and an outer layer of granules made of crushed rock-like material. Knowing the cost of roof material used per square (100 square feet of material) can help you decide what type of roofing material is ideal for you, and whether you want to use asphalt roofing shingles or built up roofing for your roof.

Other types of shingles exist for roofing, and different types have different pros and cons. Using a traditional material like asphalt means you will have the reliable, durable, long lasting strength of a roof that anyone can replace easily and offers convenient flexibility. However, choosing a shingle alternative like metal can give you greater strength in your roof and unique material properties such as strong fire resistance. It’s important to know what your priorities are in looking for a material, and to consider what the long and short term costs will be depending on the type you choose.

Roof Deck 

The roof deck refers to the flat part of the roofing structure, to which the outer roofing material is attached. Plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) is used as decking on most residential roofing systems, and there are a variety of materials for roof components that can be used for different purposes. Even though the roof deck is usually protected by outer roofing material, it is still a good idea to replace this plywood or oriented strand board occasionally, and to know the life of your roof deck so that you are aware when it is time for it to be replaced.

Making sure you find a roofer that installs and maintains your roof properly is critical to keeping your roof deck in good condition throughout its life. Proper ventilation, protection against weather, and strong roof supporting structures without excessively heavy material on top will keep your roof deck intact and lasting for many years.

Drip Edge 

A drip edge is a type of flashing that protects the roof edges from rainwater. For roofers, after you’re installing roof underlayment and it’s in place, you will install this before the starter strip. This is a rubber or metal materials for roof components that protect and seal the roof against weather. A drip edge should allow water to escape so that conditions such as an ice dam (when snowmelt re-freezes and builds up on a roof) do not occur and cause damage to the roof. A steep sloping or mansard roof (vertical surface slope) can help avoid this.


The fascias are the vertical boards that cover the roof edges and roof planes, running the length of the lower edge of the roof. The gutters attach to the fascia. This may be one of the technical roof component definitions you will find a roofing contractor using the most, as roofs commonly have a base structure like this. It is one of the more common roofing terms, and usually the fascia is protected by a fascia cover so that the wood of this roofing component is not exposed to the weather.


Flashing, or roll roofing, is the strips of rubber or metal used to protect breaks on the roofing plane, such as valleys and where the roof meets a wall or dormer. Base flashing or step flashing is applied directly to the roof’s surface. Valley flashing is applied at the sides of the valley on the roof. Cap flashing or counter flashing is applied around walls or chimneys. Other types of flashing include drip edge (applied at the roof’s edge) and vent boot (applied around roof vents). The flashing pieces are usually bonded together using flashing cement or mastic, a substance that works as adhesive to hold flashing strips together if the strips are not self adhering. The materials for all of these types of flashing or roll roofing are usually about the same as for base flashing, but may be different in shape or size.

Some of the differences between metal flashing and rubber flashing are that metal flashing is fire resistant, holds its structure, and is generally more durable than rubber flashing or roll roofing. Having different types of flashing used for different parts of a roof can be a good idea. For example, you may want to use metal in a valley (the angle formed between to roof planes) if you have an open valley (a roof valley where both sides of the valley are covered with valley flashing), but it may not matter as much valley flashing used with a closed cut valley (a roof valley that has asphalt roofing shingles on both sides of the valley extended and woven together to fully shield the valley).

Organic Shingles

The term is thrown around a lot, but what are organic shingles? While most of today’s shingles have fiberglass backing instead of asphalt, you may come across ones made of pulped paper. This traditional backing material is often referred to as “organic”. It may be the more affordable option than asphalt, but it isn’t as strong nor as durable.

When it comes to shingles, sometimes referred to as built up roofing, you have a lot of options. Traditional asphalt shingles are reliable and can be more durable than wooden shingles, but metal shingles are especially sturdy and a relatively recent shingle development. Organic shingles are newer as well, but unfortunately without the strength of metal shingles or even traditional shingles like asphalt shingles.

Looking at the anatomy of shingles, they usually have a tab (an exposed portion of strip shingles defined by cutouts) and can sometimes be laminated shingles (having more than one layer or pieces overlapped to add extra strength in your asphalt shingles). Double coverage involves applying two layers of roof shingles which adds better roof protection, especially in critical areas like the lower edge of a sloped roof.

Ridge Vent 

A roof needs to have vents to eliminate heat and moisture from the attic. These vents are placed at the roof ridges. It doesn’t matter what material is used on your roof, having proper ventilation is always very important to your roof and making sure it lasts for its full roof life.

Ridge: The Angle at the Intersection of Two Sloping Roof Surfaces

Getting more specifically into what the roof ridge is, a sloped roof usually has an intersection of two sloping roof surfaces or more. This angle formed is called the ridge of the roof. For example, a hip roof is a type of roof that has four sides of sloping plane with the ridge at the point where all four sides of the hip roof intersect. A gable roof, rather than a hip roof, has a simple two roof planes structure instead of four. A shed roof has only one sloping roof plane. Depending on your type of roof, you may have parts with more than one structure, such as a gable roof with shed roof dormers, or sections, or a low slope shed roof with a steep slope gable roof frame on one side like an a-frame.

Vent: Keeping Your Roof in Good Condition

The purpose a vent serves for your roof is very important. Keeping your roof ventilated properly ensures your roof doesn’t encounter damage or a shortened life due to its design. Another type of vent you may see on the roof is a soil stack or boot, a pipe that penetrates the roof to vent plumbing in the home.

Roof Soffit 

Soffits are the intake vents that cover the space between the top of the exterior wall and the roof overhang or eave; the horizontal strip of material you can sometimes see underneath the roof’s overhanging edge. They can be made of wood or vinyl, two of the materials for roof components commonly seen for this purpose. Once again, proper roof ventilation is important to keeping a roof in good condition, at least as much as making sure the roof is not exposed to the weather or any other roofing standard. No matter the type of roof slope structure or roofing material used, your roof should always verify that your roof will be well ventilated.

Roofing Starter Strip 

The starter strip is the first row of shingles on a roof. This row needs to be reinforced as it bears the brunt of updrafts. Most roofing systems feature starter strips made from a single roll of material. This strip of asphalt shingles is also sometimes call the first course, or starter course of asphalt shingles installed on the roof. Having an asphalt roof installed or replaced is a highly skilled task that requires the expertise of a professional. Make sure you trust an experienced roofer to replace or install your asphalt roof, and ensure that it is applied properly with a good roofing warranty.

Roof Underlayment 

Also known as felts, the underlayment is the waterproofing material installed between the roof deck and the outer roofing material. These felts are usually asphalt saturated, or strips of material covered in asphalt (aka tar paper) that prevent water penetrating the roof. If you’re installing roof underlayment, it’s ideal that it should be able to protect the roof deck from water intrusion, yet lets moisture evaporate. As with flashing, some roofing materials for underlayment can be self adhering when applied to a roof, or may require another method of installing.

It is true, there are many more roofing terms than those we have listed here. While we have listed a few of the most common terms, many more terms related to roofing exist, and it is possible to go into greater detail about any of these. The information we have provided here gives sufficient knowledge to navigate the realm of roofing well, and you can feel free to browse our other roofing terminology articles if you are looking for more terms you didn’t see here.

In addition, you can also reach out to us directly if you have any specific questions that this article did not answer. We would love to connect with you and hear how we can help more, and we are sure to have an expert who can answer the questions you still have. If you were simply curious and researching these terms over the course of your roofing project, we can offer some advice on how to make the most of what you’ve taken away from this roofing glossary.

Common Roofing Terms and Insights for your Roof

It could take hearing terms used in their contexts before these technical roof component definitions become easy to use, but now yo know what are organic shingles and what materials for roof components to use when doing jobs such as you’re installing roof underlayment or working on a roof deck. These common roof terminology to know may improve your next experience with roofing contractors, and we hope you’ll choose Stapleton Roofing to serve your roofing needs.

While it’s always a good idea to leave the tasks of roofing and roof maintenance to a professional roofing contractor, understanding a few common roofing terms can be useful to you as a homeowner while you are finding a reliable roofer. Great roofing materials used and roofing service can be determined by asking the right questions of your contractor, and knowing a few roofing terms can help you ask the questions you need to ask. If you are unsure about the experience of a roofer, don’t hire them! Continue to research and look into the credibility of roofing companies and local roofing contractors near you until you find one you are confident you can trust.

Stapleton Roofing is the roofing company to call for all your roofing needs. Give us a call at (602) 562-4991 or (602) 755-6250, or fill out our contact form. We are here not just to define your roofing terms, but to take the headache out of roofing service and maintenance for you. We offer first-rate roof replacement, inspection, maintenance, and more. Our roofing materials are top quality and our process trusted by homeowners and business owners throughout Arizona. Our clients love our services, and they know they can turn to us for the best roofing service in the area time and time again. If you want quality, effortless roofing service that you can get used to, turn to a local professional like Stapleton!

Get Excellent Roofing Service with Stapleton Roofing

Stapleton Roofing is committed to excellence in roofing. Our team has seen generations of quality roofing projects completed, satisfied customers throughout Arizona, and a lasting relationship with the community we have served for so many years. Clients know they can trust the experts at Stapleton Roofing with any project, whether it be roof repair, roof replacement, roof maintenance, roof installation and construction, roof inspection, roof consultation and recommendation, or any other home improvement task we tackle. They turn to us knowing we have the discipline to complete each project on time, the mastery to attain excellence, the expertise to provide great insight, the accessibility to top-quality products, and the relational credibility to build respectful, friendly, reliable partnerships with them.

Finding a Quality Local Roofing Partner in Arizona

If you or someone you know is ready to experience service from the team that has raised the bar in roofing industry excellence, reach out to us. Serving customers in Arizona with all their roofing solutions is our specialty, and we are ready to meet you wherever you at with your roof or home. If you have questions, we’re here to answer them, and if you have a need, we are here to hear it and fulfill that need with our roofing services.

Have you been looking for the right local roofing contractor to connect with and begin your next big roofing or home improvement project? The search is over. Stapleton is a quality roofing contractor that Arizona residents trust, and great examples of our past work can be seen throughout Arizona communities and in our customer testimonials. You don’t have to settle for roofing service that is unreliable. Our exceptional roofing services are also highly affordable and readily available in your area! Let’s connect. Tell us about your upcoming project, and we would be happy to consult with you and find out how we can help. If you are ready to begin a great partnership, don’t hesitate! Call Stapleton Roofing today!

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