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A Glossary of Roofing Terminology & Definitions

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

Have you ever met with a contractor to discuss a project but felt like a fish out of water when it came to sharing your vision for the project? As professionals that specialize in roofing in Maryland, we understand. Not everyone has the same expertise as people who work with roofing systems every day.

That's why we always recommend getting more familiar with Maryland roofing terms, so you can really get on the same level as contractors and communicate your ideas. You'll share your vision for your project faster, and we'll be more impressed.

Take a look at our list of some of the most common terms we use as a Maryland roofing company to discuss projects.

A Glossary of Roofing Terminology & Definitions

Roof Design Types

There are several roofing designs or styles. These include gable, hip, flat, shed, mansard, bonnet, butterfly, and gambrel. Let’s look at the key features of some of the most common of these. -


This is a simple triangle-shaped roofing style. The two main parts connect at the apex. It's one of the most well-known styles of Maryland roofing and easy-to-install designs for contractors.


This style has a facet or slope for each of the four corners of a house. The main sides connect at the apex and create a roof ridge. This style makes it easy to build an attic or put in a vaulted ceiling. It’s also great for Maryland roofing because they hold up against heavy snowfall.


Shed-style roofs have one slope positioned at an angle to assist water run-off. One side of the wall is usually taller than the other to create the slant. Shed roofs are typically used on smaller structures like outbuildings.

Roofing Component Terms

Your roofing contractors in Maryland may talk about the following component terms, so it is best to know what they mean to avoid confusion.


These are the roof edges that are visible over the house’s walls.


This creates the foundation of a roofing system. Typically made out of OSB or plywood, decking is installed on the base structure of the attic. It covers rafters and holds the weight of roof shingles.


Valleys are the lower-lying parts of a roof. As such, they are the most prone to the gathering of moisture and the subsequent development of leaks.


The ridges are where the roof’s two highest points meet. The ridges need specialized shingles to protect the house from weather and falling branches, etc. The best roofing companies in Maryland recommend installing vents within the ridges to ventilate the attic.


This component is the base layer of a roof system. It is installed between the roof deck and the shingles. Underlayment may be waterproof or water-resistant, depending on what it is made from. It is mostly made with a fibrous mat material such as fiberglass or asphalt.


Ventilation refers to the correct flow of air within a roofing system. Good ventilation prevents the formation of hot and moist air in the system. It also keeps the roof at the right temperature to help it last.


Flashing components are metal strips put in to protect vulnerable roofing areas, which include roof edges and seams. There are four common flashing types to use:

• Valley

• Base

• Cap

• Drip edge flashing

Roof Shingles

These are the ‘tiles’ that make up the part of the roof that is visible from the outside. When in good condition, shingles keep water from getting into the home and provide sun protection. They come in a diverse range of materials, including slate, tile, metal, and asphalt.


So, there you have it: these are some essential terms the roofing companies in Maryland will use. Knowing these key terms will help you plan your own roofing project and communicate your needs with a roofing company in MD of your choice.

We recommend making a list of some terms that apply to your specific type of roof system so you are even better prepared for your discussion and free quote.


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