0 Roof Terminology

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When discussing the elements of roofing there are many different terms to deal with. I have put this glossary together to help explain the main terms that we use in the industry.


Back gutter: A gutter formed in lead usually at the rear of the chimney however it can be formed behind any other structure. This disperses water on the tiles/slates of the roof.

Barge board: These are fixed along the edge of the gable.

Course: Horizontal row of tiles.

Dormer: A framed window unit which projects through the slope of a roof.

Eave: The eaves are the edges of the roof that overhang beyond the side of the structure it covers. Fall: The small slope on a flat roof, designed to effectively disperse rainwater.

Flashing: Strips of lead used to prevent water penetration. The “code” refers to the thickness. Code 3 – 1.32mm to Code 8 having a thickness of 3.50mm.

Gable: The triangular shaped section of wall that sits between two joining sloping roof sides.

Hip: The hip is the external angle at which the adjoining sloping sides meet.

Hip Bevel: The hip bevel is the degree of the angle where the sloping sides meet.

Hip End: The hip end is the sloping surface at the end of the roof structure that is formed by the hips joining at the ridge.

Hip Iron: A metal hook, which is secured to the roof structure to add additional support to the hips tiles to prevent them from slipping.

Parapet wall: Low protective wall that extends above the roof line for support.

Pitch: The roof pitch is the steepness of the roof or its slope, calculated as a ratio or in angular degrees.

Purlin: Main structural roof support timber to which the rafters are nailed.

Rafter: The rafter is a structural component used in roofing construction to provide support roof decks, coverings, etc.

Ridge: The ridge is the horizontal peak where two opposite roof slopes connect. It is the highest point of the roof, running along the length of the area where two roof sections join.

Soakers: This is a small sheet (Usually lead) shaped and fitted between the roof covering and breathable membrane.

Undercloak: A cement fibre strip fixed at the verge beneath the battens.

Underlay/Breathable membrane: A layer of material which acts as a barrier between the roof covering and the rafters to prevent rainwater from entering the property.

Valley: The junction of two roof surfaces of different pitches an internal angle to allow rainwater to flow efficiently into the gutters.

Verge: End of the roof surface; For example: At the end of a gable or dormer.

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