Roofing Terminology

Having repairs done to your roof or replacing your roof can be a complex business. Talk to your roofer with confidence using this handy guide to roofing terminology.

Asphalt: This is a mixture of bitumen and other minerals that is hot-trowelled onto roofing. Asphalt is most commonly seen on car parks and other commercial building roofing.   

Bonnets: The name given to rounded, quadrant-shaped tiles.  

Corrugated iron roofing: This form of roofing is most often used on functional structures like military hangars or farm buildings like barns, for its low cost and strength.   

Eaves: The eaves refers to the area under the overhanging part of roofing.   

Flashing: The technical term for the protective layer, often made of lead, that covers the joints where the wall and roofing meet.   

Gable: The vertical end of a building with a pitched roof, where the end wall goes up to form a triangle.   

Nail sickness: This is what can happen to copper nails used to fix slates when they corrode. Nail sickness is caused by the acid effect of rainfall, particularly in cities.   

National Federation of Roofing Contractors: A trade association whose members work to high standards throughout the industry.   

Pitched roofing: Where two slopes meet the ridge of a roof.   

Ridge: The top line of the roofing.   

Sarking: The waterproof felt laid immediately under the roof tile battens to keep out rain, dust and snow.  

Slate roofing: Slate can be made from natural slate or manufactured slate using pressed fibre. Slates are secured with nails onto wooden battens.   

Soffit: The under-surface of any part of a building such as the arch or eaves.   

Thatched roofing: Thatched roofing is constructed out of vegetation such as straw or rushes. This attractive traditional roofing method is still carried out today by specialist craftspeople who maintain old thatched roofs on a regular basis.   

Tile roofing: Tile roofing is made from tiles (clay or concrete) and designed to be overlapping. The tiles are secured using copper or zinc nails on wooden battens.  

Valley: This is the line where two sloping roofs meet.