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Roofing System Components—the 3 Elements you Need to Know

Feb 10, 2014

Understanding roofing system components is the key to savvy homeowners understanding the investment they are making. It is important to understand roofing as it is an investment that literally puts a roof over your head.

Knowing your roofing system components will help you make solid decisions when purchasing a new roof—or in maintaining your old roof.

Roofing System Components—the 3 Elements you Need to Know
Roofing systems are made out of 3 primary components:

1. Shingles/Tiling

The shingles/tiling is the most visible component to your roof. There are a number of options available, including: asphalt, metal, cement, slate and natural tiles, ceramic tiles and more. Each material will have its own maintenance needs, and each will vary in cost greatly (both in up-front costs and in total cost of ownership).

2. Underlayment

The underlayment is exactly what it sounds like. Its the part that is laid underneath your roof. This thin, black membrane serves as your roof’s waterproof barrier, sweat sheet and vapour barrier.

3. Flashings

Flashings are the metal pieces placed over valleys and any other area of your roof where water gathers. They can be made from a number of materials, including: stainless steel, copper, lead-coated copper, or galvanized alloy.

Design Elements of your Roof System Components

In addition to the 3 primary components, there are a few design terms/elements that you should be aware of:

Trim: this protects your roof’s seams
Ridge: this is the highest point of your roof, and is generally where the two sides of the roof meet
Valley: are where flashings are placed, as they are the area where slopes are (or meet)
Pitch: the pitch of your roof refers to the grade/steepness of your roof
Gables: these are the triangle-shaped points of your roof that extend from your eavestrough to the peak of the roof
Dormers: these are sections that come out of the roof, and are generally added when you have windows in your roof to let light into your attic or upper level
Knowing all the above elements will help you have more intelligent conversations with your roofing company—and will help you be better prepared while reading maintenance guides.

For more tips on roofing elements, maintenance, shingle types and more—check out our other blog articles.