A Beginner's Guide to Understanding the Parts of a Roof
Updated: Feb 7
Roofs are often considered simple structures. Most people think roofs are like a one-piece hat for the attic, which you’ll have to replace every couple of decades. However, once you take a look at all the roof components, you’ll be stunned by how large their number is.
The parts of a roof number more than a dozen. In fact, depending on who you ask, a roof can be broken down into five main components or more than 20 parts. Once you add up all the different parts of the roof’s structure, that number can go even higher.
Knowing this, it’s safe to say that roofs are a complex beast. So, let’s take a closer look at all the parts of a roof.
What Are the Main Roof Components
The main roof components can be categorized in several ways. At its core, a roof consists of two parts: the truss and the field. However, for more clarity, we’ve broken down the latter into a few different parts.
An essential part of a roof is the truss. For reference, this is considered the skeleton of the roof, as it houses its foundation and acts as its support. As you’ll find out below, the truss consists of several other components, like rafters, fascia, and more.
Visually, the truss is the structure you see when looking at the attic. It also supports the insulation, along with the decking and underlayments.
This one goes by a couple of different names. You might know it as roof sheathing or decking. Either way, this is a layer of material (usually plywood) placed on top of the truss. While the latter supports the whole roof, decking is the foundation of the top part of a roof (the field).
One thing you should keep in mind about decking is that it’s impossible to know if it’s damaged unless you replace your roof. That’s why you’ll have to ensure there’s adequate underlayment to prevent moisture from seeping through.
The roof underlayment usually consists of two parts: the membrane and the felt. The membrane is placed right on top of the decking and acts as a deterrent to any extreme weather conditions. Simultaneously, it helps create better insulation.
The felt is added on top of the membrane. While these are usually installed in colder climates, we think that felt is an extra line of defence that’s a great addition to any roof, especially if you haven’t replaced your roof’s shingles recently.
Shingles are the part of a roof that everyone notices immediately. While you can opt for tiles or metal roofing, shingles are very common here in SoCal. They’re the first line of defence and need proper care to last for many years, unlike the previous roof components. But you also must ensure that your roof has adequate flashing.
Flashing is a collection of sheets of metal added to the seams and joints of the roof for extra protection against water. You’ll need to ensure that your chimney, roof valleys, and vents always have adequate flashing to prevent water from seeping through.
Now that we’ve covered all the basic roof components, let’s take a closer look at what the parts of a roof are called.
What Are the Parts of a Roof Called
Here’s a quick list of all the roof components you’ll need to know:
Roof Ridge: The meeting point of all the slopes of the roof on the top of it. The ridge board is placed on top of it.
Valleys: The part where two roof slopes connect, creating a downward valley. It’s usually covered by flashing.
Hips: Hips are similar to valleys, though the connecting point of the two slopes is outwards rather than inwards.
Rakes: The endpoints of a slope or gable. They allow the water to flow through to the gutters.
Eaves: Eaves are like rakes, but instead of having a pitch, they lie flat.
Gutters: Gutters help with water collection, leading all of it to the downspout.
Downspout: Transfers the water from the gutter to a designated area (the ground).
Splash Block: Surrounds one end of the downspout to direct the water away from the house.
Rafters: Pieces of wood that act as the foundation for the decking.
Fascia: The external part of the roof’s edge. Acts as extra support and provides additional insulation.
Soffit: The underside of a flat hanging part of a roof.
Chimney: Chimneys act as ventilation for fireplaces or boilers.
Vents: Vents are used to secure airflow on different parts of the house.
Let Us Pick the Best Roof Material for You
So, as you can see, the parts of a roof are plenty. And, to think that all these require some maintenance, as well as repairs every now and then, is just a hassle. Well, let us pick the best roof material for you so that you don’t have to worry about it taking up too much of your time.
Contact us for a quick consultation, where we’ll see what problems your roof has, as well as what repairs are needed.