If you own a house in Seattle, Kirkland, Redmond, and Bellevue, there’s certain things you need to know when choosing a roofing contractor.
Please read this past post What Seattle homeowners should look for in a roofing contractor as it lists questions to ask and things to look out for when getting estimates for a new roof.
You’ll likely come across roofing terms which you may not know so to help you, we explain the most common terms you need to know and have grouped them into categories.
General Roofing Terms Everyone Should Know
Caulk-Often used as a verb (caulking), it means to fill a joint or seam with asphalt cement or a sealant to prevent leaks by making it weather-tight. It’s often done around windows, doors and vents or flashing on roofs to seal any joints or seams.
Course-Simply the word used to describe a row of shingles or roofing material that runs the entire length of the roof.
Coverage-It’s used to describe the amount of protection the roofing material provides from the weather such as single coverage, double coverage, etc.
Deck-Often call the substrate, this is the surface (often plywood) installed over the supporting framework of your roof and is the surface upon which the roofing materials are applied or attached.
Fasteners-Refers to a wide range of nails, screws, clips, bolts or any item that is used to secure roofing materials or components of your roofing system.
Felt-Also called roofing felts, it describes a fibrous material that is used as the underlayment of roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles. It can be made from many things: wood pulp and vegetable fibers (organic felts), asbestos fibers (asbestos felts), glass fibers (fiberglass felts) or polyester fibers.
Underlayment-This is the layer of felt (see description above) that is installed directly on the roof deck (and before the shingles) to separate the roof covering (shingles) from the roof deck and also gives another layer of protection against the weather.
Nesting-Refers to a reroofing method where new asphalt shingles are installed over the top of the old shingles. To be more specific, the top edge of the new shingle is pushed against the bottom edge of the existing shingle tab.
Normal slope application-This refers to the process of installing asphalt shingles on roof slopes between 4” and 21” per foot, which is the average slope of most houses.
Slope-It’s the degree of roof incline.
Telegraphing-Refers to the bumpy or unequal surface of an asphalt shingle that can happen when it’s installed over an uneven surface.
Vent-Any device installed on the roof, gable or soffit with the purpose of ventilating air from the underside of the roof deck, like a pipe or soil stack (a vent pipe that penetrates the roof).
Natural ventilation-This describes a ventilation system using specifically positioned vents in your attic to use the natural flow of air to draw hot summer and/or moist winter air out and replace it with fresh outside air.
Everything about asphalt shingles
Cutout-Refers to the open portions between the tabs on a strip of asphalt shingles.
Free-tab shingles-These shingles do not have the factory-applied strips of self-sealing adhesive on the backs.
Interlocking shingles-These are individual shingles that mechanically fasten to one another to provide more wind resistance.
Laminated shingles-These are a type of asphalt strip shingles that have more than 1 layer of tabs to create extra thickness and are often called dimensional or architectural shingles. The extra layer provides more protection against the elements while adding a 3-dimensional look to your roof.
Hex shingles-Just like you may have guessed, these asphalt shingles look like a hexagon (once installed).
No-cutout shingles-Asphalt shingles that have a single solid tab with no cutouts.
Starter strip-The asphalt roofing installed at the eaves that offer protection by filling in the spaces under the cutouts and joints of the 1st row of shingles.
Tab-This is the exposed part of the strip shingles which are defined by cutouts.
Random-tab shingles-Like the name implies, the tabs differ in size and exposure.
3-tab shingles-As you guessed, a single-layer shingle having 3 tabs and is often referred to as a strip shingle.
Ridge shingles-These are shingles used to cover the top or ridge of your roof (the horizontal external angle formed where the 2 sides meet to form a peak).
Shading– Refers to the small variations in color of asphalt shingles; it’s normal and happens during the manufacturing process.
Granules-They are the ceramic-coated colored crushed rock that is applied to the top of asphalt shingles and roofing products.
All Valley-related terms
Valley-This is the internal angle where two sloping areas of your roof intersect (like a valley) so the water runs off your roof. There are several ways to lay shingles in a valley and we describe them next.
Woven valley-A technique where shingles from both sides of the valley extend across the valley and are woven together by overlapping alternate rows of shingles as they are installed. FYI-the valley flashing is not exposed.
Open valley-With this method, the shingles on both sides of the valley are trimmed (using a chalk line to get it straight) and the valley flashing is exposed.
Closed-cut valley-Yet another method for dealing with valleys, this one has shingles from 1 side of the valley extending across the valley and the shingles from the other side are trimmed 2” from the valley centerline. Like the woven valley, the valley flashing is not exposed.
All things flashing
Flashing-Pieces of sheet metal used to weather-proof your house against the elements. It’s used anywhere there’s an intersection between two areas (like a valley, dormers or gutters) or where there’s an opening in your roof for a vent pipe or your chimney so that water doesn’t leak into your house.
Collar-Sometimes called a vent sleeve, this is a pre-formed flange (piece of sheet metal) that sits around the opening of the vent pipe (in your roof) to seal it so it doesn’t leak.
Counterflashing-The part of the flashing (sheet metal) that extends up onto a vertical surface (like a vent pipe, wall, or chimney) so that water doesn’t go behind the base flashing. Its primary purpose is to protect the base flashing and the fasteners from exposure to the weather.
Cricket-This is the area at the back of a chimney built into a peak-like formation that keeps snow and ice from accumulating; it also diverts water around the base of the chimney.
Step flashing-the method where individual pieces of sheet metal are overlapped and extend up onto the vertical surface around chimneys, dormers or any place where a vertical surface meets the sloping roof surface.
Eaves flashing-This is an additional layer of roofing material applied at the eaves (horizontal lowest edge of a sloped roof that extends past the exterior wall of your house) to help stop any damage from a water backup.
Specialty eaves flashing membrane-It shields against water infiltration by ice dams or wind-driven rain by using a self-adhering waterproofing shingle underlayment (layer of roofing felt).
Of course, there’s many more common roofing terms Seattle homeowners need to know though we concentrated on ones associated with composition or asphalt roofing as that’s the most popular roofing material used in the Seattle metro area. In future posts, we’ll focus on glossary terms for metal and flat roofing applications.