How to Speak to Your Roofing Contractor’s Language, Part One (Terms S – Z)

If feel like your roofing contractor might as well be speaking a foreign language to you when he discussing your roofing issue, this article is for you! Below is some common vocabulary your roofing contractor may use. We suggest you keep this list handy if you find yourself confused by all of the unfamiliar terms. This is Part One of a Four-Part Series.

Saturant: Asphalt used to impregnate roofing felts.

Saturated Felt: An asphalt-impregnated felt used as an underlayment between the roofing material and deck.

Self-Sealing Cement: A thermal sealing tab cement built into the shingle to firmly cement the shingles together after they have been applied. It is activated when exposed to warm sun.

Selvage: That portion of roll roofing overlapped by the succeeding course. This gives double coverage.

Sheathing: The first covering of waterproof material or boards on the outside wall on a timber roof or a frame house.

Shed Roof: A roof containing only one sloping plane. Has no valleys, gables, hips or ridges.

Single Coverage: Asphalt roofing that provides one layer of roofing material over the deck.

Slope: The degree of roof incline expressed as the ratio of the rise (in inches) to the run (in feet).

Smooth-Surfaced Roofing: Roll roofing that does not contain a surface element such as granules.

Soffit: The finished underside of eaves.

Soil Stack: A vent pipe that inserted in the roof.

Span: The horizontal distance from eaves to eaves.

Specialty Eaves Flashing Membrane: A self-adhering, waterproofing shingle underlayment which protects against water seepage caused by wind driven rain or ice storms.

Square-Tab Shingles: Shingles on which all tabs are the same size and exposure.

Starter Strip: Asphalt roofing applied at the eaves. They provide protection by filling in the spaces under the joints and cutouts of the first course of shingles.

Steep Slope Application: Method of installing asphalt shingles on roof slopes greater than 7 inches per foot.

Step Flashing: Flashing application method in which a vertical surface meets a sloping roof plane.

Strip Shingles: Asphalt shingles that are approximately three times as long as they are wide.

Tab: The portion of a shingle set off by the cutouts. This part of a shingle is exposed to the weather.

Tar Paper: A flexible sheet that is used as an underlayment and is saturated with asphalt.

Telegraphing: A shingle problem that may arise when a new roof is applied over an uneven surface.

Three-Tab Shingle: The most popular type of asphalt shingle. It is usually 12" x 36" with three tabs.

Top Lap: The portion of the roofing covered by the succeeding course after installation.

UL (United Laboratories) Label: Label displayed on packaging which indicates the level of fire and/or wind resistance of roofing components.

Underlayment: Layer of asphalt-saturated felt which is laid down on a bare deck before shingles are installed.

Valley: The intersection of two sloping roofs joining at an angle to provide water runoff.

Vent Sleeve (or Collar): Pre-formed flange placed over a vent pipe to seal the roof around the vent pipe opening.

Woven Valley: Method of valley construction in which shingles from both sides of the valley extend across the valley and are woven together by overlapping alternate courses. The valley flashing is not exposed.

See our other posts for definitions of additional terms!

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