Identifying the Parts of A Roofing System

Roofs seem like relatively simple home structures. However, roofs aren’t just simple pieces of wood or tile that are placed on top of a home. There are several parts of a roof that serve specific functions that are vitally important to the protection and foundation of your property. Aside from having different parts, there are also many different kinds of roof structures, styles, and forms; all of which affect which parts of the roof are more prominent or, in some cases, not even part of the structure anymore.

parts of a roofing system

While you don’t need to remember each and every part of your roof. We definitely won’t be giving you a test later. But, if you have any plans to get your roof repaired, replaced, or maybe you are building a new home and need to get a whole new roof built and installed, whichever the case, knowing what certain roofing terms mean will help you understand the processes involved and also help you communicate better with your roofing contractor. 

Throughout the entire roofing process, your roofer may ask your opinion on which trims should be installed on the eaves, what covers to place on the ridges, and whether you should increase the slope on the hip of the roof. Knowing what all those terms mean would help you work better with your contractor.

Here are the different parts that you’ll need to know about your roof:

Sheathing or Decking 

This part is often constructed from a half-inch plywood. The sheathing is the part of the roof that is responsible for reinforcing the roof’s foundations by providing a nailbed where the shingles, tiles, shakes, and other roofing covers are attached to. The roof sheathing is made of a layer of wood boards that are put on top of the roof trusses and joists. Essentially, the roof decking helps hold the entire roof together.

Eaves Edge

The eaves are the part of the roof that forms the edges. Specifically, it is the edge that overhangs or extends past the wall of the property. The purpose of the eave edge is to allow water to fall off the roof, without touching the house walls.

Attic Area

This one is already quite commonly known. The attic space is the space directly under your roof. In cases where a home has a flat roof instead of a pitched roof, there is usually no attic space. However, attic spaces function as more than just an extra storage space for old home items. Attics also add to the ventilation of your roof and home. 


The roof saddle refers to a triangular structure behind the chimney. It projects from over the roof cover and creates an inverted V-like structure that functions to prevent water pooling behind the chimney.


The roof ridge is the peak of the roof. Flat roofs do not have a ridge. On a pitched roof, the ridge is the topmost part where the adjacent sloping planes meet. In some roofing structures, ridges are used as points of ventilation, where ridge vents are installed to allow hot air to escape.


When a roof has slope junctions or parts where the roof meets to form a V-shaped angle, these areas are known as valleys. Identifying roof valleys is important because these are areas that can be prone to debris collection and damage if not monitored and maintained.

Roof Underlayment Membrane

The roof underlayment, also known simply as just underlay, is a layer of protection that is installed on the roof deck. The main function of the underlay is to provide a waterproof barrier for the internal support structure of your roofing system. The roof underlay is usually made from asphalt or synthetic fabric material.  

Drip Edge

The drip edge is the part of the roof that is installed at the roof edges and is used to protect the open edge of the roof. It functions to direct the water flow away from the roof. The drip edge is typically a metallic flange that has a slightly bent edge which directs water flow outwards. 

Roof Vents

There are typically two types of vents for roofs: intake and exhaust vents. The former allows air to enter the house, usually via openings near the lowest eaves of the property. The latter allows air to exit the home and are usually located higher up in the roof. Intake and exhaust vents should be used hand-in-hand to regulate the airflow and control ventilation in your home.

Joint Covers or Flashing 

Flashing is a necessary part installed on the roof because it keeps vital parts of your roof dry. Areas surrounding vents, chimneys, skylights, and other roof features should be covered with flashing materials. Flashing is made from a thin material that can either be flexible or even rigid. Flashing can be made from aluminum, plastic, or galvanized steel among others. In essence, flashing is a type of molding that creates a water-resistant barrier around the covered areas of the roof.

Aside from all these parts, there are still many other roofing components that you can earn about. When talking to your roofer, don’t hesitate to ask questions when you are met with an unfamiliar term. While you may not become an expert at roofing Oklahoma by just learning these terms, these are sure to help you understand what you need better.

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