Beginner’s Guide to Roofs – Parts of a Roof

parts of a roof

There is more to your home’s roof than just shingles. It is made of complex systems that keep your home dry and protected from the elements. You might want to learn some of the parts of a roof if you plan on having gutters installed.

That way, it will be easier for you to talk to the contractors and understand what they are talking about while doing the work. Storm Master Gutters is going to cover everything, so be sure to take a quick read!

Parts of a Roof

A roof can come in many shapes, but a pitched roof is one of the most popular ones. You do not need to memorize every single term, since you likely only need a few to talk about what you need to do with your home.


You likely already are familiar with the shingles on your roof. They are commonly made from asphalt and are common in America. There are three main types:

  • 3-tab shingles: a consistent size and shape is used
  • Laminate shingles: include tabs to add shadows on the roof
  • Designer shingles: aesthetically pleasing, come in many styles


Flashing is a thin, metal sheet that is installed around any vertical surface intersecting with the roof. They are commonly found around chimneys because of this.

Chimneys need protection from the elements too- or else rain would fall right into your home. They do not have shingles on them, so they make use of flashing instead. This stops water from getting into the chimney.

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Flashing can be used for more than just your chimney. Other options include:

  • Skylights
  • Plumbing vents
  • Roof vents
  • Dormers
  • Valleys (where two roof planes meet in an indentation)


Underlayment is a barrier applied directly to the deck, which is a flat portion of your roof. This protects the shingles by keeping water from getting behind them. The underlayment also adds some fire resistance to your roof.

This also is used to prevent “picture framing”, which is when the wood panels are used on the roof deck contract or expand when the temperature changes. Without the underlayment, this picture framing can cause some issues.

The underlayment can be made from a variety of materials. Synthetic options are growing more popular by the day.

Ice & Water Protector

A thin material beneath the shingles that keeps out rain and ice. They create a watertight seal and are necessary for your roof to function well.

The Roof Frame

The roof frame is made of wood and is built on top of your house. You can think of it as the skeleton that gives the rest of the parts a place to attach. There are many guidelines and laws that your construction team would have to follow to get it built to code.

That includes the decking, which is a thin piece of wood that covers the frame. It is typically made from a piece of wood that is less than an inch thick.

The Side of the Roof

The side of your roof is very important. When rain hits your roof, it has nowhere to go. It will wash down the sides of your home and maybe erode small holes nearby on your property. Water can be very damaging to the structure of your home when not taken care of properly.

The side of the roof is where the runoff water is managed and transported away. All of the following features work together as your rain drainage system.


This is along the edge of your roof wherever there is a vertical part. The rain gutter is attached here.

Drip Edge

This is in place so that when water hits it, it drips off into your gutters. It usually is a thin metal strip that sits along the edge of your roof.

A professional will install this part before the underlayment. Without a drip edge being installed properly, the water may flow down your wall instead of into your gutter system. The wood of your home could absorb that excess water and begin to rot.

The Gutter System

The gutters run along the edges of your roof and are designed to transport water safely away from your home. They deposit it into the ground through a downspout, where there usually is a splash guard in place.

Without a proper gutter system in place, your home could receive serious water damage. If you need new gutters, it is better to take care of it as soon as you can, instead of waiting.

There are many rain gutter parts. The hangars and brackets keep it attached to your roof. The end caps close them off and the elbows allow for it to bend. If you are interested, be sure to check out our gutter parts guide.

Rain gutters also come in a wide selection of styles. The K-style gutters are the most popular in American homes and get their name from the profile of its shape. The K-style gutter can transport a lot of water and be made from many materials, making it a great option for any homeowner.

Another popular gutter style is the half-round gutters. This style is designed to transport snow easily during the winter. It also comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and materials.

Finally, when installing gutters, think about asking your contractors to add gutter protectors. These protectors are perfect if you do not want to climb a ladder to unclog your gutters. They stop debris like leaves and branches from falling into the system.


Those were some of the basic parts of a roof that you should know about. This information is most helpful when you are having work done on the roof and want to know how to talk with your contractors about it.

If you plan on having new gutters installed, you will want to understand all of the parts of the roof that allow it to work. Remember- the gutter is part of the roofing system and is designed to help keep you dry and free of water damage.

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