Roofing Terms for Homeowners

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Roofing Terms

If you’re a homeowner, it’s a great idea to familiarize yourself with some basic roofing terms to protect your investment and have a better understanding of a project when you call in a roofing professional. Roofing terms include the roof deck, underlayment, batten system, roof vent, roof covering, concealed fasteners, and flashing.

At the Roofing Center, we have 35+ years of roofing expertise under our belt, and we put that knowledge to work for our Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho customers. In this guide, we’ll share some of that knowledge by defining some basic roofing terms.

Roof Deck

The roof decking, or roof sheathing, attaches to the structural framing of the roof and creates a covered surface to attach the insulation, weatherproofing, and rest of the finished roof coverings. The wood roof deck is either plank or sheet decking. Plywood or OSB are popular choices for sheet decking and are more commonly seen used in roofing than plank decking which is 1×6 or 1×8 boards.


Once the roof deck is installed, the next material attached is the underlayment, which is a sheet of weather-proofing material applied directly onto the deck. This material is usually roofing felt, tar paper, or polyethylene.

Roofing felt is a popular choice and is made of organic or synthetic fibers with a coating of asphalt or other waterproofing substances. Tar paper is a popular choice for metal roofs. Polyethylene is an extremely robust material and works particularly well on steeply pitched roofs.

Roofing Terms – Batten System

Some roof systems use battens, which create an air space between the roof deck and the roof covering. This air space allows for better ventilation and moisture control for the roof and results in reduced energy costs by passively regulating air temperature in your attic. Battens are 2×2 strips of lumber and are attached either horizontally or in an overlapping grid pattern over the decking. The finished roofing materials are attached to these battens.

Roof Vent

A roof vent is part of the roof’s ventilation system and allows air to circulate through the attic, cooling the home and preventing hot air from forming condensation. A proper roof ventilation system is extremely important in ensuring the structural integrity and longevity of your roof. Without proper ventilation, the roof is vulnerable to water damage, mold, and rot.

Roof Covering

The roof covering consists of the finished material that attaches either directly to the roof deck (over the underlayment and insulation) or the battens. The most popular roof covering in the US market is asphalt shingles, while some homes still use wood shake or tin.

Tile is another popular choice and can be made of materials such as clay, concrete, terracotta, slate, stone, and metal. Stone-coated steel roofing is an option that is rapidly growing in popularity for its durability, longevity, and lightweight application.

Roofing Terms – Flashing

Roof flashing is a critical component of the roof system and is installed around any area where there is roof penetration, such as around a chimney, skylight, or roof vent. Roofers install this metal flashing around any seams to keep water from entering. Poorly installed or low-quality flashing is often a cause of water entering the roof and causing damage.

Concealed Fasteners

Concealed fasteners are a fastening system that allows the fasteners to be hidden within the roofing, creating a lovely streamlined look to the finished roof. These fasteners are joined together by an interlocking seam and fastened under the roof panels, and they are typically used with standing seam metal roofs. They are exposed to less wear and can outlast exposed fasteners.

Roofing Terms: Call in the Pros at the Roofing Center

At the Roofing Center, our expert team is available to answer your roofing questions and cover your roofing needs, from inspection to maintenance to a new roof installation. Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with some roofing terms, contact us today and see how we can assist you with your next roofing project.

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