What Do You Call The Part Of The Building That The Roof Shingles Go On?

Have you ever wondered what the proper term is for the part of a building that holds the roof shingles? Well, look no further! In this article, we will explore the answer to this intriguing question. From understanding the technical jargon to learning about the different types of materials used, we will delve into everything you need to know about the part of the building that houses those essential roof shingles. So, let’s get started and unravel this mystery together!

The Roof Structure

The roof structure is the framework that supports the roof of a building. It consists of several key components, including rafters, joists, and trusses.


Rafters are the sloping beams that form the main framework of a roof. They are typically cut to the angle of the roof pitch and extend from the peak of the roof down to the eaves. Rafters provide the primary support for the roof and distribute the weight of the roof evenly to the walls of the building.


Joists are horizontal beams that run parallel to the rafters and provide support for the roof deck or sheathing. They are typically spaced closely together and connected to the rafters to strengthen the roof structure. Joists also help to distribute the weight of the roof and any additional loads, such as snow or heavy rain, to the walls or load-bearing beams of the building.


Trusses are prefabricated structural frameworks made up of multiple interconnected members, such as beams and triangles. They are designed to provide maximum strength and support for the roof, often allowing for larger spans without the need for additional load-bearing walls or columns. Trusses are commonly used in modern construction and can be customized to accommodate various roof designs and architectural styles.

Underlayment and Sheathing

Underlayment and sheathing are essential components of a roofing system that provide additional protection and support for the roof covering.

Roof Deck

The roof deck is the base layer of the roof structure to which the underlayment and shingles are attached. It is typically made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) and provides a smooth and stable surface for the installation of the roofing materials. The roof deck also helps to distribute the weight of the roof evenly and prevents the roof from sagging or becoming structurally compromised.

Underlayment Materials

Underlayment materials are installed on top of the roof deck before the roof covering is applied. They act as a secondary barrier against water infiltration and help to protect the roof from leaks and damage. Common types of underlayment materials include felt paper, synthetic membranes, and rubberized asphalt. Underlayment is an important layer that adds an additional level of protection to the roof, especially in areas prone to heavy rainfall or harsh weather conditions.

Roofing Components

Roofing components are the various elements that work together to create a watertight and durable roofing system.


Flashing is a thin metal or waterproof material that is installed in areas of the roof where two different surfaces meet or intersect, such as around chimneys, vents, skylights, and valleys. Its purpose is to redirect water away from these vulnerable areas and prevent water from seeping into the roof. Flashing is typically made of aluminum, copper, or galvanized steel and is an important component for maintaining the integrity of the roof and preventing water damage.

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Ice and Water Shield

Ice and water shield, also known as ice and water barrier, is a self-adhesive membrane that is applied to the roof deck in areas prone to ice dam formation or heavy snowfall. It creates a watertight seal and acts as an added layer of protection against water infiltration. Ice and water shield is typically installed along the eaves, valleys, and other vulnerable areas to prevent melting snow or ice from penetrating the roof and causing leaks or damage to the underlying structure.

Drip Edge

A drip edge is a metal strip that is installed along the edges of the roof to redirect water away from the fascia and prevent it from seeping into the roof deck or eaves. It helps to protect the underlying structure from water damage and also provides a finished look to the roof. Drip edges are typically made of aluminum or galvanized steel and are available in various sizes and profiles to accommodate different roof designs and styles.


Proper roof ventilation is crucial for maintaining the longevity and performance of a roofing system. It allows for the flow of fresh air into the attic or roof space, preventing the buildup of heat and moisture that can lead to mold growth, rotting of the roof deck, and increased energy costs. Ventilation components include ridge vents, soffit vents, gable vents, and turbine vents, which help to promote air circulation and prevent condensation or excessive heat buildup in the roof.

Types of Roofing

There are various types of roofing materials available, each offering unique advantages in terms of durability, aesthetics, and cost.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used roofing material in North America. They are cost-effective, relatively easy to install, and available in a wide range of colors and styles. Asphalt shingles are composed of a fiberglass or organic mat coated with asphalt and covered with ceramic granules that provide protection against UV rays. They offer good durability and can last anywhere from 15 to 30 years, depending on the quality.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing has gained popularity in recent years due to its durability, energy efficiency, and modern aesthetic appeal. It is available in a variety of materials, including galvanized steel, aluminum, and copper, offering excellent resistance to fire, wind, and impact. Metal roofs are known to last 50 years or more with proper maintenance and are often chosen for their longevity and sustainability.

Wood Shingles and Shakes

Wood shingles and shakes offer a natural and rustic look to a roof. They are typically made from cedar, redwood, or pine and can enhance the character and charm of a home. Wood shingles are machine-cut, while shakes are split by hand for a more textured and irregular appearance. Although they require regular maintenance and treatment to prevent decay and fire hazards, wood shingles and shakes can last 30 to 50 years when properly cared for.

Slate Roofing

Slate roofing is renowned for its elegance, durability, and longevity. It is made from natural stone that is split into thin sheets and installed on the roof using nails or hooks. Slate roofs are known to last 100 years or more and require minimal maintenance. They are highly resistant to fire, weathering, and impact and can enhance the architectural beauty of historic buildings or high-end homes.

Tile Roofing

Tile roofing is popular in Mediterranean and Spanish-style architecture, but it is also used in various other architectural styles. Tiles can be made from clay, concrete, or even metal, offering versatility in terms of design and color options. Tile roofs are durable, long-lasting, and provide excellent insulation properties. They can last anywhere from 50 to 100 years or more with proper care and are known for their timeless appeal.

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Determining the Roof Pitch

Understanding the roof pitch is essential for various aspects of roofing, including the selection of appropriate materials, proper installation, and overall structural integrity.

Understanding Roof Pitch

Roof pitch refers to the steepness or slope of a roof. It is usually expressed as a ratio or as the number of vertical inches of rise for every horizontal foot of run. For example, a 6:12 roof pitch means the roof rises six inches vertically for every twelve inches horizontally. Roof pitch affects the amount of water runoff, snow load capacity, and the overall aesthetics of the roof.

Methods to Measure Roof Pitch

There are several ways to measure the roof pitch, depending on the accessibility and accuracy required. The most common methods include using a pitch gauge, measuring the slope directly with a level, or using a pitch finder tool. Roofing professionals can accurately determine the roof pitch using these methods to ensure proper installation and selection of roofing materials suitable for the specific pitch.

Roofing Terminology

Understanding basic roofing terminology is important when discussing or researching roofing systems. Here are some key terms related to different parts of the roof structure and design.


The eaves are the lower part of the roof that overhangs beyond the walls of the building. They provide protection from the elements and help to direct water away from the walls and foundation. Eaves can be open or closed, depending on the architectural style and climate. In addition to their functional purpose, eaves can also enhance the visual appeal of a roof by adding depth and dimension.


Ridges are the highest points of the roof where two sloping roof surfaces meet. They are often covered with ridge caps or tiles to provide a finished and watertight seal. Ridges can add architectural interest to a roof and may be emphasized to accentuate the design of the building.


Valleys are the V-shaped areas where two sloping roof surfaces intersect. They are especially vulnerable to water penetration, so proper installation of flashing and underlayment is crucial to prevent leaks. Valleys can be a prominent design feature in some architectural styles and may require special attention during the roof installation process.


Hips are the angled intersections formed when two roof slopes meet at an external corner of the building. Like valleys, hips require proper flashing and underlayment to ensure a watertight seal and prevent leaks. Hips can add a distinctive architectural element to a roof and may require special roofing techniques to accommodate their unique geometry.

Gable Ends

Gable ends are the triangular portions of a wall formed by the intersection of two sloping roof surfaces. They are typically seen on roofs with gable or A-frame designs and can be left open or covered with siding or other materials. Gable ends can contribute to the overall aesthetics of a roof and may feature decorative elements, such as vents or windows.

Roofing Material Lifespan

The lifespan of a roofing material depends on various factors, including the type of material, installation quality, climate conditions, and maintenance.

Factors Affecting Lifespan

Different roofing materials have different lifespans. For instance, asphalt shingles generally last between 15 to 30 years, while slate roofs can last over a century. The quality of installation also plays a significant role in the longevity of a roof. Improper installation can lead to premature deterioration and reduce the lifespan of the roofing material. Additionally, climate conditions, such as extreme temperatures, high humidity, or heavy rainfall, can affect the lifespan of the roof. Lastly, regular maintenance and timely repairs help prolong the lifespan of the roof by addressing any minor issues before they escalate.

Common Issues and Maintenance

Over time, roofing materials may encounter common issues such as cracked or missing shingles, water leaks, or damaged flashing. Regular inspections and maintenance can help identify and address these issues promptly to prevent further damage. It is recommended to have a professional roofing contractor inspect the roof periodically and perform any necessary repairs or maintenance tasks, such as replacing damaged shingles, resealing flashing, or clearing debris from gutters and downspouts.

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Replacing Roof Shingles

When the roofing material reaches the end of its lifespan or becomes extensively damaged, it is necessary to replace the roof shingles. The process involves removing the old shingles, inspecting the roof deck for any underlying damage, and installing new shingles according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It is crucial to hire a qualified roofing contractor for this task to ensure proper installation and maximize the lifespan of the new roofing material.

Choosing the Right Roofing Material

Choosing the right roofing material involves considering various factors, including the climate, aesthetics, budget, and environmental impact.

Climate Considerations

The climate of the region where the building is located is a crucial factor in selecting appropriate roofing materials. For example, in areas with high temperatures or a lot of sunlight, materials that reflect heat and have UV resistance, such as metal or light-colored shingles, may be more suitable. In regions with heavy snowfall or freezing temperatures, roofing materials with good snow load capacity and resistance to ice dams, like metal or slate, might be preferred.

Aesthetics and Curb Appeal

The roofing material contributes significantly to the overall aesthetics and curb appeal of a building. It should complement the architectural style and design of the structure. Consider the desired color, texture, and pattern of the roofing material to achieve the desired visual impact.

Budget and Long-Term Cost

Budget is an important consideration when choosing roofing materials. Different materials vary in terms of cost, installation requirements, and maintenance expenses. It is essential to consider both the upfront cost and the long-term cost of the roofing material, including factors such as durability, lifespan, and potential energy savings.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of the roofing material is another consideration for those concerned about sustainability and energy efficiency. Some materials, such as metal or cool roof systems, offer energy-saving benefits by reflecting sunlight and reducing heat transfer. Additionally, materials with high-recycled content or those that can be recycled at the end of their life cycle are considered more environmentally friendly.

Installation Process

The installation process of a new roof involves several important steps to ensure a durable, watertight, and long-lasting roofing system.


Preparation is key to the successful installation of a new roof. This includes obtaining any necessary permits, ensuring the proper disposal of the old roofing material, and scheduling the installation during suitable weather conditions. It is important to clear any obstacles from the work area, protect the surrounding landscaping, and ensure the safety of both the workers and the occupants of the building during the installation process.

Removal of Old Shingles

Before installing new shingles, the old roofing material must be removed. This involves carefully removing any existing shingles, nails, and underlayment from the roof deck. It is essential to inspect the roof deck for any signs of damage or rot and make any necessary repairs or replacements before proceeding with the installation.

Installation of New Shingles

Once the roof deck is prepared, the new shingles can be installed. This involves layering the underlayment material, such as felt paper or synthetic membranes, on the roof deck to provide an additional barrier against water infiltration. The shingles are then installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, starting from the eaves and working up towards the ridge. Proper sealing and nailing techniques are essential to ensure a secure and wind-resistant roof covering.


The roof of a building is an essential component that offers protection, insulation, and aesthetic appeal. Understanding the various parts and components of a roof, as well as the different types of roofing materials available, can help you make informed decisions when it comes to roofing installation, maintenance, and repair. By selecting the right materials, ensuring proper installation, and addressing any issues promptly, you can maximize the lifespan and performance of your roof. Remember, a well-maintained roof is crucial for the integrity and value of your property.