Glossary of Roofing Terms

If you’re getting any kind of roofing work done in Rochester or Buffalo, NY your contractor may have provided you with a lot of new information. Oaks Construction has put together a glossary of common roofing terms to help you understand your roofing project. Call Oaks Construction at 585.247.OAKS with any questions.

winter ice dams on rochester ny home

Architectural Shingles

Architectural asphalt shingles have an additional layer of asphalt, which gives them more dimension and a bulkier look, similar to wood or slate roofs. Also referred to as laminated shingles.

Asphalt Shingles

The most commonly used roofing material in our area. They are used to protect your roof and to accent the look of your home. Asphalt shingles are made of a combination of fiberglass or cellulose mat, asphalt, and mineral granules. 

Asphalt Roofing Cement

An asphalt-based cement used in bonding roofing materials. It is also called mastic or flashing cement.

Base Flashing

The part of the flashing that rests on the roof deck to direct the flow of water downwards.

Blind Nailing

Nails driven so that the heads are concealed by overlapping layers of roofing materials.


Bubbles on the surface of asphalt shingles caused by intense heat, trapped moisture, or poor roof ventilation.

winter ice dams on rochester ny home
winter ice dams on rochester ny home

Cap Flashing

Flashing that covers the upper edges of the base flashing. Prevents water from entering from the exposed upturned base flashing edges.

Cedar Shake

Wooden shingles made from split logs. Thickness and length of each shingle can vary. Shakes are thicker than regular shingles.


Oriented Strand Board (OSB) or plywood installed over the house framing on which shingles are placed.


Attached to gutters, they drain water away from the home’s foundation.

Drip Edge

Metal flashing used to direct water away from the roof and into the gutters. It protects the underlying layers of your roof.


The horizontal edge of a sloped roof, often overhanging the edge of the house.

winter ice dams on rochester ny home
winter ice dams on rochester ny home


Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer is a synthetic material used on flat, commercial roofs. Available in black or white in a variety of widths. Can be fully adhered, ballasted, or mechanically attached.


Fasteners attach roofing components to the roof deck. Roofing nails or staples are the fasteners typically used for asphalt shingles.


Flashing consists of thin sheets of metal — usually galvanized steel. It is used wherever a roof meets a vertical surface or roof component such as a wall, chimney, dormer, or skylight. Flashing keeps water from getting under your shingles.


The A-shaped walls of the home that form the peak.


Troughs that take water away from the edge of a roof.


The location where two roof faces connect and project outward. The hipped end of a roof is a sloped roof face between two roof hips.

Ice Dams

An ice dam is an accumulation of ice in the gutter system and roof edge that prevents drainage of melting snow from the roof. Ice dams can cause leaking, structural damage, mold in the attic, and roof damage.

Ice & Water Barrier

An ice and water barrier is a roof underlayment used to protect areas vulnerable to damage from ice dams and water from wind-driven rain.

winter ice dams on rochester ny home
winter ice dams on rochester ny home


To cover the surface of one shingle with another.

Metal Roofing

An alternative to asphalt shingle roofs. Very flexible in terms of color and style. Withstands severe weather, but may dent if hit by large hailstones.


The section of roof that extends beyond the exterior wall of the structure.


The steepness of the roof. It tells you how many inches the roof rises for every 12 inches in depth.


The highest point (peak) on the roof where two planes of the roof intersect. The ridge runs the length of the roof.

Ridge Cap

Ridge cap shingles are pre-bent shingles that are applied to the ridges on a roof. They tend to be thicker to shed water more efficiently.

Ridge Vent

A ridge vent is a vent placed at the peak of a roof. It is designed to allow warm, moist air to escape the attic. A properly installed ridge vent increases your home’s energy efficiency.


See Deck/Decking.


The finished underside of the eave of the roof.

winter ice dams on rochester ny home
winter ice dams on rochester ny home


See pitch.

Starter Shingles

Starter shingles or strips prevent shingle blow-off, provide a straight line for orienting each new row of shingles, and protect the eaves from water damage.

Three-Tab Shingles

An asphalt shingle with three uniform cutouts (tabs) along the lower edge. These are the most popular shingles we use.


The underlayment is a layer of waterproofing barrier material that is placed directly onto the roof deck. It offers an extra layer of protection from the elements.


Where two roof slopes intersect.


An outlet for air. It projects through the roof deck and looks like a pipe. Its purpose is providing ventilation for the underside of the roof deck.

Are you looking for a roofer? Oaks Construction has nearly 20 years experience and is well-known in the area.
Call 585.247.6257 to schedule a free estimate today!