Eavestroughs, Soffits and Fascia, Oh My! Everything you need to understand a roofer. - BestCan Windows & Doors - Ottawa Renovations Eavestroughs, Soffits and Fascia, Oh My! Everything you need to understand a roofer. - BestCan Windows & Doors - Ottawa Renovations
Eavestroughs, Soffits and Fascia, Oh My! Everything you need to understand a roofer.

Every industry has its own unique jargon that, when heard by those on the outside, sound like a whole new language. For example, if you overhear soldiers talking about “chest candy”, they’re referring to decorations or awards on an officer’s dress uniform. What did you think they were talking about? 

Roofer’s have their own lingo too, so we’ve put together this comprehensive list of things you may hear a roofer say, exclaim or shout. Swear words do not apply.

Asphalt: A sticky, bituminous waterproofing material applied to roofing materials during manufacture.

Asphalt Roof Cement: An asphalt-based cement used to bond roofing materials, like flashing, copings, roof decks, roof vents and repairing loose shingles.

Back Surfacing: Applied to the back side of shingles to keep them from sticking together.

Base Flashing: Flashings that are used to help seal a roof at intersections, and direct the flow of water onto the shingled roof.

Base sheet: The bottom waterproofing layer of a multilayer roofing membrane system. It is coated with sticky bitumen asphalt and bonds with the cap sheet. 

Bundle: A package of shingles. 

Asphalt shingles typically weigh 60-80 pounds per bundle.

Cap Sheet: Used to create a water-tight surface, a cap sheet is made from layers of asphalt or tar-coated layers of fiberglass

Chalk Line: A line made by snapping a tight string coated in chalk dust. Straight lines are important!

Closed Cut Valley: A method of laying shingles in a valley where one side of the shingles extends beyond the valley while those on the other side are trimmed.

Collar: A flange placed over a vent pipe to seal around the vent pipe opening. 

Counter Flashing: A strip of sheet metal built into a vertical wall of masonry and bent down over the flashing to make it watertight. 

Course: A row of shingles or roll roofing that runs the entire length of the roof.

Coverage: The number of layers of material between the deck and the surface of the roofing. For example: Single coverage, double coverage, etc.

Cricket: A peaked saddle construction at the back of a chimney to deflect water and prevent snow and ice from building up.

Asphalt shingles are one of the most affordable roofing solutions available, which is why they’re so popular.  Installation prices will vary between approximately $2,000 – $11,000 but the average cost of installation in Canada is around $4,750.

Deck: The surface. Your exposed roof. 

Dormer: A framed window unit that projects vertically beyond the plane of a pitched roof.

Drip Edge: L-shaped metal molding designed to prevent rain from infiltrating the roof. 

Eaves: The horizontal edges of your roof. 

Fascia: The long, straight boards that run along the lower roofline. They support the bottom row of shingles. 

Felt: A layer of asphalt-saturated protection installed between the roof deck and the roofing shingles. 

Flashing: Pieces of galvanized metal used to direct water away from critical areas of the roof, like; vent pipes, chimneys, adjoining walls, dormers and valleys. 

Gable: The upper triangular portion of a wall between the edges of intersecting roof pitches. 

Granules: Made from crushed stone and minerals, they are applied to the exposed surface of asphalt roofing products.

Gutter: The trough that carries water from the eaves to the downspouts.

Head Lap: If an overlap is when one shingle overlaps another, then a head lap is when the head of a shingle is overlapped by the shingle two courses above it. This is critical to prevent water penetration.

Hips: The down-sloped ridges at the intersection between two sloping roof planes. 

Interlocking Shingles: Shingles that fasten to each other.

Lap: To cover the surface of one shingle with another.

Nesting: A method of re-roofing with new asphalt shingles over old shingles.

Ply: A layer of roofing (i.e., one-ply, two-ply).

Ponding: The accumulation of water on a roof in low-lying areas.  

Rake: The angled edges of your roof.

Recovering: Adding an additional layer of roofing over an existing layer. 

Roofing Tape: An asphalt-saturated tape used for flashing and patching.

Roof vents: Structures that draw air from soffit vents at the base of the roof to help regulate temperature and prevent moisture.

Ridge: the horizontal line on the top of your roof.

3 advantages of Metal Roofs:

  1. Energy efficient. Metal roofs can save you up to 40% off your energy bill. 
  2. Low maintenance.They can take nearly anything the elements throw at it.
  3. Long lasting. Metal lasts 4 times longer than asphalt shingles.

Self-Sealing Shingles: Shingles containing strips or spots of self-sealing adhesive.

Shading: The slight differences in shingle color that occur from manufacturing.

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

Single Coverage: One layer of roofing material over the deck.

Slope: The degree of roof incline – or the ratio of the rise, to the run, in inches. Ex: a roof slope of 3/10 has a 3 inch rise every 10 inches.

Soffit: The finished underside of the eaves.

Soil Stack: A vent pipe that penetrates the roof.

Span: The distance from eave to eave.

Square: A unit of roof measure covering 100 square feet.

Tab: The exposed portion of strip shingles.

Tear Off: To remove an existing roof down to the deck.

Telegraphing: A distortion that happens when a new roof is applied over an uneven surface.

Underlayment: Asphalt saturated felt used beneath roofing to provide additional protection. 

Valley: The “V” angles formed along the junction of two slopes of a roof.

Vent: Any outlet for air that protrudes through the roof deck.


BONUS TERMS: These are un-official roofing terms that you may hear mentioned at the job-site:

No-brainer: An easy task or decision.

Whiskey stick: A level. 

New York screwdriver: A hammer.

Badges: Stickers on one’s hard hat.

Mud wrench: A shovel.

Shingle stretcher: An imaginary tool we use to trick new workers.

Cowboy: Someone pretending to be a skilled roofer. 

Roach coach: A food truck

Pirate: Unlicensed roofer.


Getting to know this list of terms can help you communicate with your roofing contractor. Always make sure you hire professionals, like our team at BestCan.

Don’t hire a pirate. Give us a call and we’ll grab our Whiskey-sticks and New York Screwdrivers to fix you up in no time.

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