Roofing terminology

Most common roof in the United States and have an average life between 15 to 30 years.

Roofing Terminology

Most common roof in the United States and have an average life between 15 to 30 years.

Styles of roofs

  • Bonnet Roof
  • Butterfly Roo (Uncommon)
  • Combination Roof
  • Dormored Roof
  • Flat Roof
  • Gabled Roof
  • Grambel Roof
  • Mansard Roof
  • Hipped Roof or Hip Roff
  • Shed Roof
  • Saltbox Roof

Type of steep slope roofs

Asphalt Shingles: Inexpensive. Most common roof in the United States and have an average life between 15 to 30 years. The longevity of an asphalt shingle depends on installation along with geographic location. Wood shingles: More expensive than asphalt shingles, however can last upwards to 40-50 years and are more astethically pleasing.
Metal planks/shingles: This type of shingle are growing in popularity due to the “Green movement.” If installed properly have the ability to last 50 years. This type of product is more expensive asphalt shingle, but similar to wood shingles.
Slate shingle: One of the most traditional shingle in the market. Is used for high end homes, churches, and traditional style homes. Longevity consisting of up-to 50 years with proper maintenance.
Tile roof: The most expensive steep to low slope shingle. Tile roofs (Clay tiles) have the ability to last up to 80 years in ideal conditions. However, the largest concern with this style roof is the weight disbursment. Clay tiles can only be installed on houses built for a tile roof.


Roofing deck:This is the substrate which your asphalt roof system is installed too. The deck must be in good condition and have no defect. If the current roof has bowing/concave appearance, mold residue, or weak (licensed contractor walks the roof then you need new decking). It has be adequate for the load of the new roofing system and up to the local building code. A lot of municpalities require a wood decking check before installing a new roof. The material for the decking varies on the project and location. Installing a proper thickness is key to a long-lasting roof and A roof deck consist of plywood, preservative-treated panels, wood plancks, fire-retardant panels, wood boards, preservative-treated wood, or nail-based insulation. Check your local code before renovating your roof.


Underlayment:Have you heard of “Felt” paper? It comes in fifteen pound rolls, thirty pound rolls, and now synthetic, breathable rolls. This product is installed on the roofing deck. This is your next roof protection after the wood decking. There is organic mat felt paper, which is a combination of cotton rag, wood fiber, and other cellulose fibers. This is the most commonly used organic mats. New underlayment utilizes a combination of polyester and glass fibers. The best underlayment on the markt is synthetic felt. Synthetic felt uses recycled rubber and polyolefin-based resins. This product is stronger than organic mats and is much lighter because there is no coated aspahlt. In addition, synthetic is lightweight, long-term ultraviolent resistance, and low moisture absorption, and low shrinkage, which are all benefits.


Ice and water shield:This product is necessary where temperature’s are 30F or less during January. All muncipalities in the midwest require ice and water shield installed at the eave off a residential building along with valleys. An interesting tidbit is when your building has an extended roof. It’s recommended for ice and water to be installed 24″ past your warm wall in cold environments. A lot of building codes haven’t implemented this as code, but by manufacturer specs this is expected.

Valley: A valley is the downslope intersection of two roof planes meetinig. This section is exceptionally vulnerable to leak occurrence because of the high quality of water. It’s imperative you install ice and water underlayment or metal paneling in the valley. A valley is critical for draining excess water off the roof and controlling the flow of the water.

Types of valleys: Open Valley (common with metal material), Closed-cut valley, or woven valleys.

Flashing: Flashings occur where there is an obstruction such as a chimney, vent-pipe, skylight, or any intrusion in the roofing system. Objects that create obstructions or holes within your roofing system are high-risk areas for leakage. There are different types of flashing installations and NRCA has a required minimum.  They occur at a low slope transition, near skylights, or vertical surfaces (walls, chimneys).

Common roofing flashing products:
Metal flashing sleeve, prefabricated flashing with elastomeric collar (“witches cap”, louvered roof vents, metal flashing sleeve with rain collar, turbine roof vent, step flashing, apron flashing, counter flashing, cricket flashing, and baby tins.

Hip and Ridges:This section of the roof cover fasteneres and roofing nails that penetrates through the layers of hte roofing material. The final fasteners of the hip and ridge should be covered with an elastomeric sealant or asphalt roof cement. This product is installed by lapping over the previous cover and fastened with a concealed nail on each side of the hip or ridgeline. Building products have their own hip and ridge products. GAF Timbertex, Owens Corning DuraRidge, IKO Hip and Ridge, TAMKO Hip and Ridge. It’s common to install hip and ridge shingles using three tab shingles too.

Drip Edge Metal: Most contractors forget this product during the installation process. Make sure they’re licensed! This product goes along the eaves and is applied directly to the roofing deck. The self-adhering material is applied to the eaves to shed water away from the house’s fascia and siding. It comes in an L-type and T-type product.

Gutter Apron: The gutter apron is the metal flashing that lay’s into the gutter and underneath your roof’s starter shingle. This material is used as a way to move the flow of water away from the roofing deck and your fascia.

Downspouts: Downspouts come in various sizes. The most common is 2×3 and 3×4 while being in 10 foot sections. This part of the gutter system carries the water down from the roof.

Ridge Cap Shingle: A ridge cap shingle can be precut. The premium ridge caps are offered by all building products. Premium ridge caps insure reliable protection at the highest stress areas of your roof. This area of the roof provides the highest quality and most effective alternative to using cut up shingles.

Attic Exhaust Ventilation: This ventilation system is installed at the peak of the roof. This system is ideal for houses that have long ridges, for instance a 30 ft ridge or longer. This product often requires a 4 in opening in the ridge for the air to circulate. A roof that uses this type of system allows you to eliminate openings in the roof (often areas of leaks) and presents the ability to have hot air circulate out of your attic. A premium product, but will look aestically great and solve air flow concerns.

Mushroom Ventilation:A mushroom vent is installed to allow air to escape your attic. The rule of thumb is one vent for every 4 squares of roof. This is a low-cost ventilation method for roofs and most common. These vent come in plastic, metal, and galvanized steel.

Starter Strip: Often called the eave/rake starter strip. Using a starter strip rather than a cut-up shingle (Three-tab shingle) saves time and increases productivity. This product is the first roofing product installed after the felt and ice/water product. It’s a high-quality product, that can be properly positioned and will tightly lock your shingles in place to help prevent blow-off. In addition, is a key product in enacting a lifetime roof warranty with most building manufacturers.

Roof Blisters: A pocket of air trapped between layers of felt or the roofing granules. This is often caused by moisture, foreign moisture, or material defect. Blisters don’t always lead to a recall, but if intensive blistering is occurring throughout the entire roof then it’s worth calling a roofing contractor.

Metal Brake:A metal brake is a device used for fascia, flashing, and metal bending procedure. It’s often used for on-the jobsite bends such as a ODE or other difficult cappings.

Butt Joint: A butt joint is commonly associated to flat roofing more than steep slope. This is when material meets side by side. A butt joint is common when you’re installing ISO board on a flat roof or wood decking on a steep slope.

Dormers: A dormer is installed on the second floor a residential house. Dormers are installed to add more square space to a house and bring in more natural light. Be cautious on who you choose to install your dormer and make sure they install kick out flashing. A dormer without kick-out flashing is a dormer with a soon to be leak in the midwest.

Fascia: Fascia can either consist of metal or wood. It is the horizontal board that goes across the eave. This section of the house often rots if an inadequate gutter system, gutter flashing, and ice & water shield isn’t installed properly. We recommend checking your fascia every 4 years if no annual maintenance is performed.

Gables: Gable ends are common on an A-Frame style home. This is when a triangle is formed with two adjorning joists, rafters, or fascia boards meet.

Roof Pitch:
Low Slope: A low slope is when a roof pitch is less than 30 degrees and less than 4/12.
Normal Slope: A roof pitch that is between 30 to 45 degrees.  4/12 to 6/12
Steep Slope: A roof pitch that is more than 45 degrees or larger than 6/12.

Statistical Process Control: The process of creating a asphalt shingle. The first material is the fiberglass mat which get loaded into a roofing machine. These mats then get coated with asphalt. The asphalt penetrates the fiberglass mating and then the granules get dropped on the shingle. Once the granules are installed the back surfance is added to protect the shingles from heat and moisture. Granules get embedded and pressed securely on the shingle. The dura grip or solar seal gets added on the bottom of the shingle. The sealant receives a plastic film to keep the sealant from activating while instorage. Shingles get cooled, cut, and packaged.

Slope: The ratio of a roof’s rise to a roof’s horizontal run.

Pitch: A ratio of a roof’s rise to a roof’s span.

Architectural shingles:

Atlas Stormmaster Shake Shingles using ScotchGard Protector:
These shingles are your protection from cracking, splitting, and warping thanks to a Class 4 Imapact resistance rating for proven durability. The infused Scotchgard Protector helps prevent algae growth and preseve a home’s curb appeal. This shingle comes in 9 colors.

Atlas Pinnacle Pristine Shingles using Scotchgard Protector:
Similar to the stormmaster this shingle uses the Scotchgard technology, which helps fight off those nasty black algae streaks and preserve the shingle’s color. The shingle comes with a 130 mph Lifetime limited wind warranty and 14 different colors.

Certainteed Landmark pro asphalt roofing shingles:
This shingle is a double layer, high performing shingle that has a vibrant color. The thickness of the shingle makes this shingle impervious to normal wear and tear, and has the industry’s strongest warranty. Comes in 20 colors.

Certainteed Presidential Shake shingle:
The goal of the presidential shake shingle is to replicate the look of cedar shakes, while maintaining the endurance of asphalt shingles. This intricate design delivers the homeonwer with a distinct appearance that is unmatched.

Certainteed Grand Manor shingle:
Houses that have steep-sloped roofs and planes that are noticable fall into the Grand Manor category. The randomly placed tabs have shadow lines that provide authentic depth and appearance of natural slate.

GAF Camelot Ultra Lifetime Designer Shingle:
The next best thing to wood shakes or traditional slate. This product has the most advanced shingle technology and shingle development from the leading seller of asphalt shingles, while maintaining a luxury appearance.

GAF Sienna Shingle:
One of the most unique shingles on the market. The Sienna shingles purpose is to provide a unique appearance and victorian feel. This shingle comes in 4 colors and considered the elegant shingle.

GAF Timberline Shingle:
The Timberline series is one of the most trusted shingle on the market and has 7 colors that can cordially complement your home’s exterior. The Timberline series has numerous types such as American Harvest, Cool Series, and stock colors.

IKO Royal Estate:
One of the best luxury shingle for the overall cost.  It offers a luxurious look and one of the easier shingles to install. Royal Estate comes in 4 different colors.

IKO Armourshake Designer Shingle:
The armoushake series is IKO’s way of competing in the woooden shake look market. This shingle has a Class A Fire Resistance rating. The subtle variances and overall design gives you the feeling these shingles were hand cut.

IKO Cambridge Collection:
Cambridge collection is the standard architectural shingle from IKO and has a Class 4 Imapct Resistance rating, and offers exceptional flexibility and tear resistance. The colors have deep shadow bands that mimic wood shake construction.

Types of aphalt shingles:

  1. Three-tab shingle
  2. Laminated/architectural/dimensional shingle (Most Common)
  3. Specialty shingle (Multi-tabbed shingle)
  4. Specialty Laminated shingle (Premium Shingle)
  5. Interlocking shingle


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