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Understanding Roofing Terminology
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement


Understanding the components of your roofing system will help you determine the style of your roof, identify interior space, and dictate where to add rooms, frame additions, and place chimneys. The roof also suggests the type of climate that the geographical location of the building receives. Not only will understanding the details of the roof help the builders responsible for the design, but it will also help the homeowners select the perfect roofing style for there location and personal taste. You will find some of the most important roofing terms defined below:

Roof Shapes:

• Gabled: Constructed with a single slope on each side of the ridge, creating a triangle portion on the side of front facade.
• Side-Gabled: Non-gabled side faces the front and contains the front doorway.
• Front-Gabled: Gabled side faces the front and contains the front doorway.
• Cross-Gabled: Perpendicular wings are added to the main section forming two individual sections with their own gabled fašade.

• Hipped: Four uniformly pitched (sloping) sides, resembling a pyramid.
• Simple: All four sloping sides meet at a ridge across the top. Front slope is usually broader than the side sections.
• Pyramidal: All four sloping sides come to a point at the top of the roof.
• Cross-Hipped: Perpendicular wings are added to the main section forming two individual sections with their own hipped fašade.

• Gambrel: Each side has two slopes; a steeper lower slope and a flatter upper one; associated with barns.
• Saltbox: A gabled roof with asymmetrical sides. It is said to resemble an eighteenth century salt box.
• Mansard: A roof forming a double slope, two slopes on each of the four sides. The lower slope being steeper than the other.
• Shed: One high pitched plane covering the entire structure. Often used for additions and porches.
• Flat: Contains no slope. May or may not have eaves.

Roof Details:

• Valley: When two roofing planes meet at the bottom of their pitch to form a valley.
• Hip: When two roofing planes form a fold or vertical ridge.
• Gables: Roof sections facing in separate direction from the actual roof, forming a triangular wall segment. They are often used as an opening for a window.
• Dormers: Create additional openings in your roof and are classified by a variety of styles associated with roof shapes. (Gabled, hipped, shed, ECT.)
• Roof Dormers: A section that extends up from the main roofline and forms a miniature house, containing a window, lights, walls, and a roof.
• Wall Dormers: A section that extends up from the main roofline and looks much like a gable, but with walls.

Eave Details: The part of a roof which projects out from the side wall, projecting the edge of the roof.

• Roof: The exterior surface on the top of a building.
• Fascia: Horizontal band or board that runs along the eaves of a roof.
• Boxed Eave: Horizontal overhang that runs from the eaves edge to the side of the building.
• Cornice: The top set of moldings just below a roofline, usually consisting of a fascia board, a soffit and appropriate trim moldings.
• Rake: The inclined portion of a cornice. They can be close or extended.

Pitch:

• Low Slope: Roof pitches that are less than 30 degrees.
• Normal Slope: Roof pitches that are between 30 and 45 degrees.
• Steep Slope: Rood pitches that are more than 45 degrees.

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