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Understanding Roofing Terminology
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:
• 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-Gabled: Gabled side faces the front and contains the front
• 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
• 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
• 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.
• 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
• 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
• 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
• Rake: The inclined portion of a cornice. They can be close or
• 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.