Home and other property owners are not expected to be experts in roofing, nor are they expected to know technical terms related to the industry. However, there are some common roof repair terms everyone should know to effectively communicate concerns with a roofing expert and better understand the roof repair process. Whether you are seeking a roof repair, a roof replacement, or are building a property from the ground up, we have compiled a list of terms that will most likely surface.


Roofing Materials and Parts

To people other than roofing professionals, the term “roof” tends to be used as an all encompassing word to describe the top of a building. But did you know there are terms to describe different areas and parts of your roof? There are also various materials that can make up a roof or roofing system. The next time you need to contact a professional for a roof repair, replacement, or build, knowing the terms below will help pinpoint problem areas, and ensure that you and your contractor are on the same page about the condition of your home. 

Aluminum: a non-rusting, malleable metal sometimes used for metal roofing and flashing

Asphalt: a mixture of dark bituminous pitch with sand or gravel, used for surfacing roads, flooring, roofing, etc.

Attic: a space or room just below the roof of a building

Chimney: stone, masonry, prefabricated metal or wood-framed structure containing one or more flues projecting through and above a roof

Collar: a metal cap flashing around a vent pipe projecting above a roof deck

Copper: a soft, malleable, naturally weathering metal used in metal roofing or flashing


Dormer (Picture on Left): a structure projecting from a sloping roof usually housing a window or ventilating louver

Downspout: a vertical pipe or conduit used to carry runoff water from a scupper, conductor head or gutter of a building to a lower roof level or to the ground or storm water runoff system

Drain: an outlet or other device used to collect and direct the flow of runoff water from a roof area

Eave: the lower edge of a sloping roof; that part of a roof which projects beyond the wall

Flashing: components used to weatherproof or seal roof system edges at perimeters, penetrations, walls, expansion joints, valleys, drains and other places where the roof covering is interrupted or terminated

Galvanized Steel: steel coated with zinc for corrosion resistance; a popular material for metal roofing and flashing

Granules: opaque, natural or synthetically colored aggregate commonly used to surface cap sheets, shingles and other granule-surfaced roof coverings

Gutter: a channeled component installed along the downslope perimeter of a roof to convey runoff water from the roof to the drain leaders or downspouts

Ridge: highest point on a roof, represented by a horizontal line where two roof areas intersect, running the length of the area

Roof System: a system of interacting roof components generally consisting of a membrane or primary roof covering and roof insulation (not including the roof deck) designed to weatherproof and sometimes improve the building’s thermal resistance

Shingle: a small unit of prepared roofing designed for installation with similar units in overlapping rows or courses on inclines


Siding: the finish covering of an exterior wall of a frame building; the siding may be a cladding material such as wood, aluminum or vinyl (but not masonry)

Skylight: an opening in a roof that is covered with a transparent or translucent material; used to admit diffuse light to the space below

Slate: a hard, brittle metamorphic rock consisting mainly of clay minerals used extensively as dimensional stone for steep roofing and in granular form as surfacing on some other roofing materials

Steel: a malleable alloy of iron and carbon produced by melting and refining pig iron and/or scrap steel; other elements, such as manganese and silicon, may be included to provide special properties

Valley (Picture on Right): the internal angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes

Vent: an opening designed to convey air, heat, water vapor or other gas from inside a building or a building component to the atmosphere


Roof Leaks, Repairs, and Replacements

When you contact a roofing professional, they should be able to provide detailed information about the condition of your roof based on an evaluation. In addition, they should provide an overall recommendation and quote for the repairs needed. There are some specific terms that arise when your roof has incurred substantial damage or is in need of repair. Below you will find terms that can be used to describe the condition of your roof or roofing material, as well as potential remedies or actions that may need to be taken.


Blisters: bubbles that may appear on the surface of asphalt roofing

Coating: a fluid material applied in the field as a film to the roof surface to provide weather protection to the original roof substrate

Ice Dam (Picture on Left): a mass of ice formed at the transition from a warm to a cold roof surface, frequently formed by refreezing meltwater at the overhang of a steep roof causing ice and water to back up under roofing materials

Mildew: a superficial growth produced on organic matter or living plants by fungi

Mold: a surface growth of fungus on damp or decaying matter

Ponding: the excessive accumulation of water at low-lying areas on a roof that remains after 48 hours after precipitation under conditions conducive to drying

Replacement: the process of removing the existing roof covering, repairing any damaged substrate, and installing a new roof covering; also known as “tear-off and replacement” 

Reroofing: the process of recovering or replacing an existing roof covering

Waterproofing: treatment of a surface or structure to prevent the passage of water under hydrostatic pressure

Weathering: changes in color, texture or efficiency brought about by exposure to outside elements


Safety and Integrity

This last category of terms is short, but perhaps the most important. When you hire a company or individual to fix an issue with your roof, cost should not be the only thing to consider. You should do a little bit of research and ensure they are both qualified and reputable. What certifications do they hold? Do they prioritize their employees’ safety? What insurance is available when you sign on for their services? The terms below will help you determine if the person or company you are considering is the right one for you.roof-repair-terms-nrca

Certified Contractor: an individual who has successfully completed a certification program; certifications can be awarded by product manufacturers or national organizations (ex. CertainTeed, NRCA, GAF, etc.)

Licensed Contractor: an individual who has passed a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam; a financial statement and proof of general liability and workers’ compensation insurance are also required

National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) – a that is widely recognized as a mark of commitment to professionalism and the advancement of the roofing industry

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): a regulatory agency of the Department of Labor created to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.

Personal Fall Arrest (PFA) System: a system used to arrest an employee in a fall from a walking-working surface; it consists of a body harness, anchorage, and connector


Contact A Licensed Professional Today

At Austermiller, we want our customers to be able to make fully informed decisions. They should know all the different materials available for roofs and roofing systems. And educating them throughout the process of a repair, replacement, or build is essential to keeping them informed on what’s going on. Plus, it gives them the knowledge to prevent and catch roof related issues early on. The terms discussed in this article are widely used among professionals and, now, can be used by you. It will help our professionals help you! If there are ever any questions that aren’t addressed by one of our licensed professionals, don’t hesitate to ask – that’s why we are here.

Austermiller, Inc. has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for over 25 years. Our team of certified contractors and roofers are trained professionals to install materials of the highest quality with the highest quality service. We are proud to specialize in both commercial and residential roofing, as well as storm damage repair and restoration. Schedule your FREE estimate today by visiting us online or giving us a call at 615-553-2041.