Know Your Roof Terminology

roof terminology

Know Your Roof Terminology

Home Tips

We here at J. A. Edwards America know our roofs, literally inside and out. The average homeowner, though, might not be as familiar with all of the terminology associated with roof construction. When your roof is being repaired or replaced, you might hear some of the following terms. 

Ridge Board

The ridge board runs the length of the roof ridge. The rafters fasten to the ridge board.


The rafters connect to the ridge board and support the roof sheeting. They bear the load of the roof.

Collar Beam

The collar beam connect rafters on either side of the ridge beam. With collar beams in place, the rafters (and so the whole roof) are stiffer and sturdier.


Trusses do the same job as the rafters, but are more engineered and so are stronger and longer-lasting.


The deck or decking is the solid pieces that cover the rafters. In most modern construction, the deck will be made from plywood. Older homes might use solid wood planks.


The underlayment is a waterproof or water resistant layer between the roof deck and the shingles (or other roofing material). Typically the underlayment will be made of felt.


The outermost layer of the roof. Shingles are individual pieces cut to stock sizes and overlapped. Most roofs use asphalt shingles, but they could be composed of tile, slate, or wood.


Flashing protects against water seepage. Typically composed of thin sheet metal, flashing is applied at angled joints on the roof, like the chimney.


The eave is the horizontal overhang of the roof.


The soffit is the underside of the eave. 


The fascia are horizontal boards that are attached to the rafter ends at the eaves. Gutters are usually attached to the fascia boards.

Contact Us

Although this list of terminology is certainly not exhaustive, you should have a better idea about the way your roof is put together and how all the pieces work with one another. If you have any questions or are concerned about the state of your roof, contact us here at J. A. Edwards America and let us bring our extensive knowledge and expertise to you.