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Talk Like the Pros: Roofing Terminology for Non-Roofing Professionals

May 8th 2015 at 11:02 PM

If you're worried that your roof might need some repairs, or curious as to how to carry on a conversation with a roofer while they're working on your roof, knowing the proper terminology can help you gain an edge so you know what the roofers are talking about, and how to respond, when they ask questions or assess the damage.

Although there are hundreds of different terms you'd have to study and learn before you can call yourself an expert (let alone the hands on training you'll need to undergo), you can at least learn a few of the basic terms that you're likely to come across during your next conversation with a roofing contractor. Some of these terms are self-explanatory, while others are more skill-facing. Either way, this is a great place to start.

Asphalt Shingles : Asphalt shingles are the most popular Roofers Lansing MI material used in residential construction. Also known as composite shingles, these shingles are typically dark in color, solid and composed of bituminous substances.

Aluminum : Aluminum is a common, non-rusting metal used for metal roofing or flashing. Although growing in popularity, metal or aluminum roofs are still not as popular as their shingle counterparts.

Bitumen : Bitumen is a substance derived from flammable mixtures of relatively nonvolatile hydrocarbons that occur naturally or are obtained by fractional distillation of petroleum. The most common bitumen in roofing is asphalt.

Closure Strip : A closure strip is used to bind the openings created by joining metal panels, sheets or flashings.

Coating : In roofing, coating is defined as a layer of material that is applied over a surface for aesthetic and protective purposes.

Copper : Copper, commonly described as a reddish-brown element, conducts heat and electricity extremely efficiently, which is the reason it is so common a roofing material or flashing component.

Fastener : A fastener, in roofing, is a device that's used to carry water off the roof to prevent the roof from caving in, or water damage to accumulate.

Flashing : Flashing are common components used in roofing construction to seal the roof system in areas where the roof may be interrupted or terminated.

Grout : A water, cement and fine gravel (not always the latter) mixture used to fill cracks in your roof.

Joint Tape : In roofing, certain tapes are used to seal joints between insulation boards - Joint tape is the most common tape used in this scenario.

Ply : Ply can be a layer of felt, ply sheet, or other type of reinforcement used in a roof membrane or roof system. The most common of these are Base Plies.

Ridge Cap : Exactly as it sounds, ridge caps are a material or covering applied over the ridge of a roof.

Slate : Slate is a hard, brittle metamorphic rock consisting mainly of clay materials, used mostly as dimensional stone for steep roofing, and in granular form.

Underlayment : Underlayment is a saturated felt or other sheet material installed between the roof deck and the roof system, usually used in a steep-slope roof construction.

Although there are hundreds of other words and definitions we could state here, these are some of the most common terms used in residential roofing, and a good place to start for your next project. Now, when a roof mentions that your “fastener wasn't installed correctly and therefore isn't carrying water to its' proper destination”, you'll know exactly what they're talking about.

If you would like to know more about Roofers Lansing MI services in and around the Lansing, Michigan area, please visit, for more details.

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