Talking the Talk: A Brush Up on Common Roofing Terminology

Crew Applying Wite Brite

Successfully managing your roofing assets is heavily dependent on being able to communicate effectively with your roofing company. Following are several common roofing-related terms and definitions to become comfortable with, if you’re not already.

Blisters – A common roof defect consisting of an enclosed pocket of air, and perhaps water, trapped between layers of felt or membrane, or between the membrane and substrate.

Coating – A layer of liquid-applied chemical material to a roof’s surface for the purpose of waterproofing, thermal protection and/or aesthetics.

Coping – The top layer or course of a masonry wall, usually having a slanting upper surface to shed water.

Counterflashing – Formed metal or elastomeric sheeting that covers and protects the top edge of membrane base flashings.

Decking – A structural component of roof assembly (typically the base layer) made of metal, concrete, gypsum or wood.

Fasteners – Mechanical securement devices and assemblies such as nails, staples, screws, cleats, clips and bolts used to secure various components of a roof assembly.

Flashing – Membrane-base or sheet metal coverings of the most vulnerable parts of the roof to exterior water entry; commonly where the roof covering is interrupted or terminated.

Membrane – A component of roof assembly made of flexible or semi-flexible material installed above the insulation and immediately beneath the surfacing as a waterproofing measure.

R-Value – A measure of a material’s thermal resistance, defined as the mean temperature difference between two defined surfaces of material or construction that induces unit heat flow through a unit area.

Scuppers – A soldered sheet metal sleeve used to provide an outlet through parapet walls or gravel stops on flat and built-up roofs to allow drainage of excess water.

Seam – A joint formed by the adhering of two separate sections of material.

Steep Sloped – Roofs with a pitch greater than 3:12, or 14 degrees.

Substrate – The surface, typically the deck or insulation, upon which the roofing or waterproofing membrane is applied.

Tensile Strength – The strength of a material under tension, which determines a material’s capacity to withstand loads tending to elongate.

Clearly understanding the terminology your roofing company uses in conversation and on invoices is beneficial to all concerned.