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Common Roofing Terms Explained

Common Roofing Terms Explained

When the time comes to fix up, replace or update the roof of your business premises, it’s best to take every effort to avoid complications so you can ensure everything progresses as smoothly as possible without it taking valuable time away from the running of your business.

Getting your head around the specialist terminology that comes with roof construction is a helpful way to prepare for the discussions that come when deciding, explaining and understanding what work needs to be carried out. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand some of the common terms of the roofing industry.

Flat roofs

These kinds of roofs are more common for commercial properties, mainly due to their simplicity and the provision of interior space. Flat roofs aren’t 100% flat, a slight pitch or slope – no greater than 15° – is required to enable rainwater to drain from the roof and stop it from pooling.

A flat roof is a multi layer construction, generally consisting of these components:

  1. Waterproof membrane: The outer surface of the roof, installed to prevent water infiltrating into and through the roof. Can be made from a variety of materials such as metal, slate and asphalt.
  2. Felt/underlay: Thin waterproof sheeting laid on top of the rafters to help prevent the ingress of wind, dust and moisture.
  3. Insulation: Provides a thermal barrier to stop heat from escaping through the roof. Can also provide sound proofing and fire resistant properties.
  4. Deck: The structural base placed on the joists and upon which the roofing components are attached. The deck provides support and stability to the roof system.
  5. Vapour control layer: Used to prevent condensation.
  6. Joists: Horizontal supports, can be steel or concrete for larger commercial buildings to help support increased weight.
  7. Ceiling: Usually plasterboard.
  8. Flashings: These can be made of various materials and are used to seal joints, corners and perimeters of roofs to protect from water and weather damage, and direct the flow of water away from the roof to stop water from pooling.

Pitched (or sloping) roofs

Pitched roofs come in two forms:

  1. Hip: All sides slope gently downwards until they meet the walls
  2. Gable: These are generally two sided and have a flat wall at either end.

Some of the terms you might come across that are particular to pitched roofs are:

  1. Ridge: This is the horizontal top of the roof where the sloped areas meet.
  2. Ridge board: A horizontal board that runs along the line of the ridge. Can be solid timber or metal. The rafters are connected along its body to create a sturdy framework for the roofing structure.
  3. Ridge tiles: Commonly rounded in shape, these are attached on the apex of the roof, along the ridge, and should be bedded down with mortar and also mechanically fixed in place with either clips, screws or nails. This is to make sure the tiles don’t fall off the roof if the mortar were to fail.
  4. Truss: A triangular framework used to add support to the roof. A truss consists of wooden or steel boards attached at regular intervals to create a sturdy, mutually supporting base.
  5. Battens: Thin strips of material made of wood, metal or plastic. They are installed before the tiles are placed, and tiles should attach to the battens. Battens will raise the profile of tiles, so that water will be easier to drain from the roof.
  6. Fascia: A long, straight board attached underneath the bottom of a sloping roof, behind the guttering.
  7. Soffit: The part of the roofline visible from street level, the soffit is tucked underneath the fascia. It can be ventilated to allow airflow into the roofing area to combat against condensation.
  8. Valley: The angled joint running between two sloping roofs,
  9. Valley gutter: Exposed guttering running along the roof valley.
  10. Dormer: A window that projects vertically from a sloping roof.
  11. Soakers: Aluminium or steel soakers are used on side abutments to protect them from wind and rain damage. Aluminium is the most commonly used material, but steel can be selected if extra strength is needed, such as to support a heavy ventilation unit, for example.

Other roofing terms you might come across when discussing renovations, updates or repairs to the roof of your commercial premises are:

  1. Louvre: Slanting, overlapping slats that are adjustable so that light and air can be admitted while shutting out the rain.
  2. Cladding: The visible external finish, achieved by the overlapping of roofing materials to create a weather and waterproof protective layer.
  3. Corners: Improves the aesthetic appeal of the roof and building, built to suit different kinds of flashing which forms part of the cladding.
  4. Rainwater goods: Attachments used to help drain rainwater away from the roof, through the downpipe. Hoppers are an example of this. These can be crafted to suit a certain aesthetic or finish, so as not to interfere with the overall look of the roof or building.

Corrivo are experienced producers of bespoke metal roofing components. We have been producing high quality flashings, guttering, and specialist roofing fabrications since 2000. We work to your specifications, creating perfect components to suit any premises. To discuss our services and find out what materials would be best for your roofing project, get in touch with us today and we will be happy to give you a hand.

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