Identifying Parts Of Your Roof - Digital Roofing Innovations

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Identifying Parts Of Your Roof

Identifying Parts Of Your Roof

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Putting on a new roof can be a confusing process. No worries, we put together a short list for you to review that will explain the different parts of your roofing system. The roofing anatomy that you will learn about here covers most single family roofing systems. 

There are a lot of pieces that come together to make up your roof, and roofing contractors use a lot of particular phrases when it comes to discussing any issues that your roof might have. 

To clear up any confusion about the various parts of a roof / roofing anatomy continue reading below! 

The Main Parts Of A Roof

Although most people know what shingles, gutters, and a chimney are, you might not have as much knowledge about the lesser known parts of a roof. There are far more components than just these three that make your roof into such a crucial part of your home.


You already know what shingles are (click here to see our article on what we think is the best roofing shingle), so we won’t spend too much time on this. Shingles are the main protectors of your roof. They are normally 3-tab, architectural shingles or maybe even a premium 50-year shingle.

As mentioned, asphalt is the most common shingle due to its price and durability but there are others such as zinc, wood, metal other kinds of composite/synthetic materials

The type of shingle you use largely depends on your personal preference as well as which shingle manufacturer provides the best roofing warranty.

Ridge Vent

Look at the highest point on your roof. This is called the ridge and on the ridge you will find a ridge vent. This is the place where all the hot air can escape your roof. If you don’t have a ridge vent, when you install a new roof you will want to make sure this is done. They will need to cut a hole in your roof and install the ridge vent and ridge cap (a special type of shingle) over the ridge vent.

I highly suggest you have your roofing company install this if it is not existing. It can make a dramatic impact on your cooling in the summer.

Roof Valley

The valley will connect two pitched sections of your roofing and will form an angle. This is the most important part of your roof to protect because this is where most of the water is running off your roof. Be very sure you are using ice and water shield here but at a minimum you need to have valley metal.


roofing cricket is a part of your roof that will divert moisture away from your chimney. 

Valley Underlayment/ Valley Flashing

This is the installation that will go underneath the valley itself. Due to the water that can make its way underneath your shingles, it’s extremely important that you have the necessary kind of installation needed for your home’s location so your house doesn’t begin to have any leaks in the attic. 


This is the lowest point on your roofing and eaves are found with a pitched/ gable /mansard roofing format. The purpose of an eave is to connect your gutters to the roof. The eave overhangs further away from your home so that if you consistently have a lot of heavy rains in a given year, and your gutters overflow, then they’ll prevent water from running along your house’s walls. Without the overhang function of an eave, your house could more easily get mold. 


The soffit can be located on the underside of the eave and is a panel that reaches from the outline of the roof to the siding of your home. 

The purpose of a soffit is to protect the roof’s rafters from all-natural weather elements, like any moisture or mold. It also prevents critters from being able to nest in your rafters. Since soffits protect your rafter from outside elements, your roof’s rafters can last for a longer period of time. 


A rake can be customized to fit the style you want on your roofing because a rake can be left open or it can be closed in with the soffit. The rake is best described as the sloped side on a gable roof. It can either be flat or it can overhang. 


Roof flashing is usually a type of thin material that is used to create a path for water to move away from a critical part of your roof. Flashing is used where the roof plane intersects with a vertical surface. The flashing is usually made out of galvanized steel and it’s installed to surround roof items like vents, chimneys, or skylights. This underlayment will allow for water to slide down onto the shingles instead of it affecting the other roof items. This way, water will be unable to find its way to the roof deck. 

Drip Edge

A drip edge is a form of metal flashing that is installed on the edges of your roof. The main purpose of a drip edge is to direct the water away from the side of the building. In many places it is part of the building code and has to be included when installing a new roof.


This is a kind of wall that is used in conjunction with flashing. It’s mainly used in the specific kinds of base and step flashing. A sidewall intersects with the roof deck and it connects the edges of the sloping roof deck. 

Hip End

This part of your roof is the triangular sloping surface that is formed through the roof’s eaves’ meeting. 

A roof hip is also a specific kind of roof where each of the sides of the roof slopes down towards the walls in a subtle slope. When thinking of a hip roof, envision a pyramid. Hip ends tend to be most popular in snowy or windy areas because the snow can easily slide off the roof itself. 


A dormer’s main function is to increase the amount of liveable space in a small room or loft area. A dormer can normally be found on houses that have an attic that has been converted into an additional room. A dormer almost always has a window in it because homeowners want to utilize it to allow for more sunlight to enter the space. The extra window also creates better ventilation since more fresh air can enter the space.


This is the space in a roof where the roof’s slope intersects to a vertical area. Abutments intersect with chimneys or walls. 

Since this is a more general term for where the roof’s slope intersects with other parts of the roof, an abutment can be found on the side or the top of the roof.


Your gutters can be found connected to the eaves of your house. Typically they outline your roof so they can catch any runoff water from your shingles. A gutter looks like a kind of trough that can hold water and then direct it to your downspout so that the water can be safely directed away from your house. While it’s not always obvious to onlookers, gutters typically have a slight slope to them so that water will more easily slide into the downspout. 

parts of a roof


A downspout allows for the water from your gutters to flow to the ground and away from your home. Roofers recommend that downspouts extend a certain distance away from your home so water will be expelled further away from your home’s foundation. If your downspout doesn’t extend to a slope that leads water from a storm further away from your home, then you could begin to have water damage or water infiltration in your foundation, or mold could start to form on the external woodwork of your home. 


Fascia boards are the long and straight boards that run parallel to the lower edge of your roof, and they’re connected to the bottom of roof trusses. The fascia is meant to support the lower edge of a bottom row of tiles. 

The boards also hold up all the pieces of the guttering that surround your home. It’s especially important for roofers to check the stability of fascia on homes with older roofs in areas that receive a lot of rain on an annual basis. If the boards begin to rot, then the gutters will eventually collapse.

Gable Roofing

A gable roof is a style of roofing that is most commonly placed on homes in areas where snow is common and it’s made up of two sloping roof sections that meet at the highest point to form a roof ridge. A gable roof also typically has a roof plane- a roofing area that is defined by having four distinct and separate edges. 

Roof Trusses

A roof truss is another part of a roof that provides it with the strength and support it needs to hold the roof up. Most commonly, a roof truss is a wooden triangular structure. Usually, your roof will either have rafters holding it up or rafters- not both. 


Your rafters are the section of your roof that creates the foundation, layout, and skeleton structure for the roof itself. Rafters can be made out of either wood or metal and are found at the internal apex of the roof. 

Your rafters also aim to support your roof from heavy loads. The rafters allow for your roof’s structure to support all of the valley underlayment that you have to put in place to protect your home from water damage and the rafters also support your shingles. 

Rafters are also made to handle more than just the weight of shingles and installation though. They’re also intended to hold up against the extra weight of water, snow, or ice. 

Vent Pipes/ Plumbing Vents

These extend from your home’s other waster pipes and are installed through the roof. The vent pipes allow for any kind of sewer gases to be directed and released outside of your home. This helps to increase overall ventilation in your house and dissipate unwanted smells that can come from sewer gases. 



Your chimney is typically connected to your fireplace, although it could also be connected to a stove or a boiler. Its main purpose is to allow for exhaustion smoke and other kinds of gases to have a path to exit your home. 

Ice And Water Shield

These can also be called an ice and water protector and they aim to stop ice dams from forming on your roof. 

It is normally installed in the valley of the roof, and along the eaves and the rakes. However, in warm weather States such as Texas, Alabama or Florida, it is normally only installed in the valley since the risk of ice dams is very low. 

Ice & Water shield is by far the best water proofing technology that has come out in the last 20 years and we HIGHLY suggest using it on every roofing project.


This can also be referred to as solid decking because the composite it’s made up of solid materials. The decking looks like flat boards that are connected to the trusses and then are stretched on joists so the decking can encompass the entire roof.

The roof deck can be made up of many different materials however in almost all new construction projects, OSB is used since it is a relatively cheap material that can support the weight of a person.

The decking allows for there to be an extra layer of protection that separates the roof from home, and the decking provides an extra element of weatherproofing for the underlayment. The roof decking is meant to support the roof as a whole.

Find A Contractor Who Will Talk Through The Various Parts Of A Roof With You

Whether you’re having a problem with your roof planes, roof ridge, underlayment, or one of the other many items listed above when you’re looking for a roofing contractor make sure that you choose someone who will help you understand the work that your roof needs! 

Having a deeper knowledge of the parts of your roof is invaluable, so you’ll be better able to understand any issues that could arise with your roofing. If you’re able to detect problems with your roofing early on, then you’ll be able to get into contact with a roofing contractor and stop the problem before it becomes even more serious!

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