The 15 Parts of a Roof You Need to Know

If you’ve ever wondered about the parts of a roof, you’re right to assume it isn’t as simple as it may appear. Many people assume there are one or two basic materials up there — a gutter system, some shingles… maybe a chimney. In reality, there are about 15 parts of a roof that contribute to your shelter and safety.

15 Crucial Roofing Materials

 

Parts of a roof diagram

Roof Vents: Ridge Vents, Gable Vents, and More

Roof vents allow air to move through the attic. They are a very necessary part of every roof for safety reasons. Having improperly installed roof vents may lead to “mold growth, ice dams, and higher energy costs for the homeowner.” There are several different types of roof vents, including gable vents and ridge vents, and while works slightly differently, you can be certain you’ll need to have one sort of ventilation system at work to have a solid, functioning roof and attic.

Important Note: Only a professional roofer should be trusted to determine the correct configuration of your home’s ventilation system and which vents will be safe and effective.   

Roof Caps

The functions of a roof cap serve to assist the roof’s ventilation system by releasing some of the heat from the home’s attic. 

Hips

The hips of a roof are those sections of a roof that are sloped (refer to the diagram above). If all sides of a roof slope down toward the ground, this is what’s known as a hip roof.

Gables

A gable can be thought of as the unsloped surface that’s created by joining two hips. It is the triangle-shaped space that results from the connection of two sloped sections of a roof.

The tan side of a house.
An unsloped, triangular side of a roof is known as a gable.

Roof Valley

Roof valleys or roofing valleys are very common roof parts. They are features of home exteriors the world over. They are a means of draining water from your roof, formed at the depressed intersection of two downward slopes — often where a garage attaches to the main house.

Ice Guards

Ice guards are required by code in Ohio and Michigan and should be applied along the gutter’s edge whenever roofers install a new roof. They are a 3-foot rubber membrane — made to be impermeable to the elements — for the valleys and eaves of the roof.

Skylights

Okay, okay… you don’t need a skylight window, but you definitely want one. Is it the least integral of the parts of a roof on our list? Yes. Is it also very cool. Yes. ‘Nuff said.

Dormers

In many cases, dormers are an aesthetic choice. But that doesn’t mean they can’t also be functional. When the window of a second-story bedroom, for instance, juts out from the main part of the house, this creates a dormer or “the part of a roof that projects out vertically from the rest of the roof.”

Rake Edges & Drip Edges

The difference between a drip edge and a rake edge comes down to placement and angle. Both are metal edges that run along the perimeter of your roof. A drip edge is “placed along with the eavestroughs of roofs,” but a rake edge goes along the gables of a home.

Eaves

The eaves, as explained in the same Your Own Architect article we looked at for rake edges and drip edges, are “the edges of the roof that hang over the wall connected to the roof.”

Downspouts

A downspout is an extension from your gutter that empties water from your roof valleys. It is a crucial element of the process that removes liquid buildup on your roof which could lead to leaks down the road.

Soffit and Fascia

Soffit and fascia are somewhat linked. They are some of the most important parts of a roof and they work together to outline the edges of the roof. In very basic terms, the fascia board runs perpendicular to the ground while soffit is installed parrallel to the ground and runs along the underside of a roof’s edge.

Small home with a porch and green recycling bin outside.
Notice the fascia board running along the roof where the tiles stop?

 

Soffit on the underside of a gutter.
Worn-out soffit on the underside of a roof

Gutters

You know ’em, you love ’em, and you can’t seem to keep your leaves out of ’em. Gutters are the most obvious element on our parts of a roof list. Still, it’s good to learn a little about gutter maintenance, including how to prep your gutters for winter.

Chimney Flashing

Chimney flashing seals the chimney to the roof. It repels water and any foreign liquid from permeating your roof where the chimney is attached.

Roof Ridges

Your roof ridge is the apex of your roof where two upward slopes meet — simple to understand, but very important to design and construct professionally.

roof ridge
A roof ridge occurs where two upward roof slopes meet.

 

Other Parts of a Roof

So there you have it! While there are many different parts of a roof and even variations on the parts in our list, these are some of the key ones that you should know. Give us a ring if you have any questions or want to schedule a free drone inspection!

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