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Your Roofing System and How It Works

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

First we'll go over the basic structure of your roof and then get into the details. The peak of your roof is called a ridge, the bottom is the eaves, and sloping edges are called rakes. Where two roof planes meet at an inside corner is known as a valley, an outside corner is called a hip. Underneath your roof there will be framing, which consists either of rafters or trusses.

1. Sheathing

Roof decking or sheathing refers to the boards (often OSB or plywood) that are laid across the trusses and support the rest of the roof components.

2. Underlayment

Roofing underlayment, or underlay, is a membrane layer between the shingles and sheathing. Underlay is used to prevent leaks, mold and water damage from rotting the sheathing and entering your home.

3. Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the layer of roofing we're all most familiar with as that's the part you can clearly see. The three main types of asphalt shingles used today are designer, performance and architectural shingles. Designer shingles are double layered giving them their signature three dimensional look. Performance shingles are made specifically to withstand harsh weather conditions and high winds. Architectural shingles are made up of multiple layers giving them great depth and texture. These shingles are usually designed to look like cedar shakes, or slate.

4. Hip & Ridge Shingles or Caps

Hip and ridge shingles are installed at the roof ridge to offer stability and weather protection. Much like hip and ridge shingles, a ridge cap fits over the ridge line where the two slopes come together to keep rain and snow out of your home. A ridge vent can also be installed underneath the hip and ridge shingles to allow for additional ventilation.

5. Flashing

Roof flashing is a thin material (usually galvanized steel) that roofers use to direct water away from compromised areas. Like where the roof is adjacent to a wall or dormer; Or there's a vent, chimney or a skylight that could leak if improperly sealed.

6. Drip Edge

Drip edge is metal flashing installed at the edges of your roof along the roofline to keep water from getting behind your gutters and rotting the fascia board or roof decking.

7. Fascia

You'll find the fascia right where the roof and siding meet (often referred to as the "roofline"). The fascia is the board along the overhang and the roof that helps your roof appear finished. Your gutter sits atop the facia board. The fascia is also known as a “transition trim” between the home and the roofline.

8. Soffit

The soffit is located underneath the roof overhang, where your roof meets your siding. Soffits are an example of passive ventilation. They evenly distribute airflow to keep things dry and mold-free.

9. Ventilation

Ventilation works by moving fresh air in and allowing heat and humidity to escape through your roof vents or ridge vent. Active ventilation pulls the air in from the outside and pushes it out from the inside. Passive ventilation means the air gets moved by natural sources, such as wind.

10. Gutters & Downspouts

A gutter is a trough that collects rain water and is attached along your home’s fascia. Gutters, or "eavestrough", are commonly made from aluminum and sloped on an angle to direct the water toward the downspouts. The purpose of the downspout is to move water from the gutters to the ground without causing water damage to your home’s exterior or foundation.


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Classic Roofing & Siding Limited provides Roofing, Fascia, Soffit, Siding, Windows, Cladding, Doors, Trim, Decks, Home Exterior Renovations, in Halifax, Bedford, Dartmouth and the surrounding communities of Nova Scotia.

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