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Anatomy of a Roof

All you need to know and say when reroofing your home

More in Remodeling

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Written by Joseph Truini
Illustration by Steven Stankiewicz

Being fluent in "roofspeak" will allow you to talk knowledgeably to contractors and builders when it's time to reroof or remodel your home. Here, we've highlighted 16 must know elements.

1. SHINGLES The topcoat of a roof. Asphalt shingles (three-tab or architectural style) are the most common roof shingles installed today, but wood shingles and shakes, metal and tile are also popular.

2. VENT PIPE A plastic or cast-iron pipe that's connected to the home's plumbing system. It pokes through the roof and admits fresh air into the plumbing system, which helps sinks, tubs and toilets to drain quickly and efficiently.

3. CHIMNEY A noncombustible structure, usually made of brick or stone, that rises above the roofline to exhaust smoke and fumes. Chimneys are often positioned alongside the roof, but they can also protrude up through the ridge or roof slope.

4. CHIMNEY CAP A metal or stone top placed above the chimney flue to keep out rain and snow.

5. FLUE The interior of every chimney is lined with a flue, which safely carries smoke and fumes from fireplaces, furnaces and other fuel-burning appliances. The flue is typically made of square or rectangular sections of clay pipe, called flue tiles.

6. RIDGE The peak at the highest point of a sloped roof. Often has a vent running along its length to allow hot air out of the attic.

7. HIP ROOF A distinctive roof design that has four roof planes and no A-framed gableend walls (as shown). Two planes, typically at the ends of the house, slant down from the ridge to the tops of the end walls.

8. HIP RIDGE The angled peak between two adjoining sections of a hip roof.

9. GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS Channels attached to the fascia to carry away rain.

10. FASCIA A horizontal board fastened to the lower ends of roof rafters. Rain gutters are usually attached to them.

11. DRIP EDGE Metal flashing that's placed along the edges of the roof to divert rain away from the house and into the gutter.

12. RAKE A piece of exterior trim that runs at an angle from the peak of a gable-end wall down to the eaves. (It's often made from a 154 or 156, and is positioned just below the roof shingles.)

13. GABLE The A-framed sidewall of a home that forms the peaked roof.

14. GABLE-END VENT Located high on a gable-end wall, this vent admits fresh air into the attic to help keep the attic cool.

15. SOFFIT The underside of the eaves that projects over the exterior wall. Often fitted with vents to admit fresh air into the attic.

16. EAVES The lower edge of the roof that extends out beyond the exterior walls.

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