Asphalt – an organic bituminous compound used in the manufacturing of composition shingles.

Asphalt Roofing Cement

Asphalt Roofing Cement – used to bond roofing materials, also known as flashing cement or mastic.


ASTM – American Society for Testing of Materials. A voluntary organization concerned with the development of standards, testing procedures, and specifications. Many city building codes use ASTM standards.

Base Flashing

Base Flashing – the portion of the flashing, which is attached to, or rests on the roof deck.


Blend – mixtures of various colored granules on the surface of shingles.

Blind Nailing

Blind Nailing – nails driven in such a way that the heads are concealed by succeeding layers of roofing materials.


Blisters – bubbles that may appear on the surface of asphalt roofing.


Bridging – a method of reroofing where the new shingles follow the contour of the old roofing. (Also called “butting up”) It is almost always desirable to tear off old roofing.

Built-Up Roofing

Built-Up Roofing – a flat or low sloped roof made up of layers of asphalt and ply sheets. (AKA BUR)


Butt – the portion of the shingle exposed to the weather, sometimes called the “tab” of the shingle.

Cap Flashing

Cap Flashing – flashing on a vertical surface to prevent the flow of water from getting behind the base flashing. The cap flashing overlaps the base flashing. This flashing (AKA counter flashing) is generally not changed in a reroofing job.


Caulk – a substance used to fill a joint or void.


Cement – a substance that when cured, binds to surfaces together.

Class “A”

Class “A” – the highest fire resistance rating for roofing as per ASTM E-108. Shingle with this rating should withstand severe exposure to fire from sources originating outside the building. (Other classed are B and C)

Closed Valley

Closed Valley – when roofing materials cover the entire valley. Unless otherwise requested, many roofers primarily install closed valleys.


Coating – a layer of viscous asphalt applied to shingles in which granules are embedded.


Collars – pre-formed flange placed over a vent pipe. (AKA vent sleeve) There are two types, lead jacks and rubber boots.

Counter Flashing

Counter Flashing – see Cap Flashing.


Course – a horizontal unit of roofing running the length of the roof.


Cricket – a small, peaked saddle constructed on the top of the basic roof and behind the chimney. A cricket is generally not required.


Cupola – a structure rising above the main roof. It is usually ornamental but may be used for ventilation.

Dead Level

Dead Level – a roof or section of roof without any pitch.


Deck – the material installed over the framing of a structure on which shingles are installed. The primary materials are Oriented Strand Board (OSB) and cdx Plywood.

Double Coverage

Double Coverage – a method of applying roof shingles so that two complete layers of material are provided.


Dormer – a window unit projecting through the sloping plane of the roof.

Drip Edge

Drip Edge – usually metal strip used on eves and rakes to allow for water run off without damaging underlying materials.


Eave – the horizontal edge of a roof that projects over the outside wall.


Exposure – the portion of the shingle that is exposed to the weather. Usually measured from the butt of one shingle to the butt of the next overlapping shingles.


Lap – the overlap of surface of one roofing material to another.

Laminated Shingles

Laminated Shingles – shingles containing more than one layer of tabs creating extra thickness. (AKA dimensional or architectural)

Lock Shingles

Lock Shingles – a shingles with a mechanical locking feature. (These are not common)

Low Slope Application

Low Slope Application – method of applying shingles on slopes between 2 and 4 inches per foot.

Mansard Roof

Mansard Roof – a vertical portion of roofing.


Mastic – see asphalt roof cement.

Modified Bitumen

Modified Bitumen – roller roofing membrane with a polymer modified asphalt. The roll will generally have a fiberglass or polyester mat for reinforcement.


Nesting – see bridging.

Normal Slope Application

Normal Slope Application – method of installing shingles between 4 and 21 inches per foot.

Open Valley

Open Valley – valley in which metal is used and roofing material does not cover entire valley area as in a Closed Valley.

Seal Down

Seal Down – a factory applied asphalt strip used to bond a shingle to the one above. This is used to provide wind resistance.


Sheathing – exterior grade boards used as a roof deck.

Side Lap

Side Lap – a horizontal lap.

Skirt Flashing

Skirt Flashing – A large, often single piece of flashing commonly found at the bottom of a dormer or addition.


Slope – the degree of incline of a roof plane. (AKA pitch)


Soffit – the finished underside of an eave.

Soffit Vent

Soffit Vent – An under eve opening needed for intake of outside air. These are not part of a typical roofing job but are needed for good attic ventilation.

Soil Stack

Soil Stack – a vent pipe that penetrates the roof.


Span – the horizontal measurement from eave to eave.


Square – a unit of roof measurement covering 100 square feet.

Starter Course

Starter Course – the first course of shingles installed on your roof. It will be under the first exposed row. Often these shingles are 20-year three-tab shingles. To not create an awkward hump, these are used even when heavier laminated shingles are installed.

Step Flashing

Step Flashing – flashing along a roof slope against a wall or chimney using succeeding courses of flashing material placed in conjunction with layers or courses of roofing materials. Step Flashing is generally in 4 by 4 by 8 inch pieces.


Tab – portion of strip shingles defined by cut outs or slots so when installed, material appears to be individually applied.


Underlayment – An asphalt saturated felt applied over the roof deck and under the roofing material. Homeowners should know there is a wide range of both quality and price.


Valley – the intersection of two roof slopes.


Vent – an outlet for air.


Weathering – changes in color, texture or efficiency brought about by exposure to outside elements. For example, when a tree scratches or damages shingles on a roof.

Siding Vocabulary


Battens – vertical trim strips place don panel siding at regular intervals to cover joints and create an architectural aesthetic. (Critical for a farmhouse look)


Fascia – a band that runs horizontally under the edge of a roof, usually caps the end of rafters and sometimes holds the gutter.


Frieze – an ornamental, horizontal band that appears on the exterior walls of a building or house, usually near the roofline.


Gables – the generally triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a dual-pitched roof.

House Wrap/Weather Barrier

House Wrap/Weather Barrier – covers a structure’s exterior prior to siding installation, which prevents rain from getting into the walls, while allowing water vapor to escape.

Lap Siding

Lap Siding – any type of siding installed horizontally on your home.

Panel Siding

Panel Siding – long, tall boards that come in a variety of textures. This type of siding is commonly used with batten strips, but it can also be used on its own.

Shingle Siding

Shingle Siding – individual cuts of wood of varying widths typically used for the traditional aesthetic. (AKA shake siding)

Siding Exposure

Siding Exposure – the visible space between the bottoms of adjacent rows of siding, most frequently used with lap siding. (AKA reveal)


Soffit – the underside of any construction element, also used to describe the material used to cover the exposed surface beneath the overhang of a roof.

Windows Vocabulary

Air Chambers

Air Chambers – small spaces that look like honeycombs that are between the frame and the sash and help strengthen and insulate the window.

Argon Gas Fill

Argon Gas Fill – odorless, colorless, gas that is non-toxic and used as a replacement for the air between the two panes as a way of reducing the transfer of temperature.


Casing – the molding that covers the exposed space between the frame and the wall.

Double-Pane Windows

Double-Pane Windows – Have two layers of glass, separated by a spacer.

Double Hung Window

Double Hung Window – has two sashes that operate vertically. (Single hung windows have only one sash slide)

Energy Star

Energy Star – a government-backed program that uses specific criteria to ‘grade’ the efficiency of replacement windows. You should always check for products that are “Energy Star” rated.

Insulating Glass Unit

Insulating Glass Unit – two pieces of glass or more separated using a spacer and sealed at the edges of the glass. (AKA an I.G. Unit)

Fixed Panel

Fixed Panel – a window that cannot open.


Flashing – a tape that is used to weatherproof the house. This may or may not have been used when windows were initially installed but should be used when replacing windows.


Frame – The exact opening where the window sash will fit. (Available in a variety of different materials including wood, clad wood, aluminum, vinyl and fiberglass.)


Sash – frame that holds the glass that will be the window or the portion of the window where the glass is contained.


Shims – small wedges of wood that are used to fill small gaps in between windows and their casings.


Sill – the bottom area of the window’s main frame.

Sill Extender

Sill Extender – attached to the bottom of the window to cover the gap between the sill and the opening. (AKA Apron)


Triple-Pane – contains three layers of glass. The extra pane and air space generally provide better insulation making this a better option in extremely cold climates.


U-Value – the amount of heat that is transferred through the material. Lower U-values mean that the heat flow is slower, and the insulating quality is higher.

Weather Stripping

Weather Stripping – material that goes in between the sash and the frame and stops air from escaping and water from entering the house.