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Roofing 101: What Are Different Parts Of The Roof Called?

[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 13, 2017 9:20:11 AM / by Krystal Coddington

Krystal Coddington


So you’ve noticed that your roof is looking a little worse for wear, or maybe you want to make an improvement in the curb appeal of your home in preparation to sell. You are savvy with tools and you are no stranger to do-it-yourself home repair. Well, roof repair can be a frugal DIY project that will also make an important investment in your property. But before you grab a hammer and a ladder, we need to review the main components of a roof.

Related: As a Homeowner, Can I Deduct My Roofing Repair Costs?

Main Components of a Roof

Roofs are designed to keep out rain, even in arid climates like Nevada, so the parts of a roof are all different means of waterproofing. In climates that see a lot of rainfall, roofs have more layers of waterproof material. Even in the desert, a roof’s main purpose is to direct water away from a building in order to protect the building from water damage.

The layers of a roof are installed in an overlapping fashion to boost the waterproofing ability of the roof. So what are the different parts of the roof called? The basic components of every roof are shingles, waterproofing material, wood sheathing, and the beams of a roof truss.

1. Shingles

Shingles are the topmost layer of a structure and are the first thing people notice about a roof. They are also the layer that sees the most wear and tear. Shingles come in a variety of colors and styles from asphalt sheets to clay tiles. Depending on the style of your home, you can choose from many different appropriate styles. Some shingles, such as asphalt sheets, can be affixed simply in an overlapping pattern using nails. This is a very cost effective form of roofing.

2. Waterproof Layer

Depending on the amount of waterproofing a home needs, this layer of a roof can be customized to climate. A basic layer of waterproofing is called underlayment, and is typically made of felt. This felt is placed directly underneath your chosen shingles.  Underlayment is required by new building codes and is an important layer to the roof.

Related: How to Repair a Roof Leak in 3 Easy Steps

3. Sheathing

The sheathing layer is typically made from plywood, but can also be another material, such as particleboard. The sheathing sits directly under the waterproof underlayment and on top of the main beams of the house. This is the layer to which the other layers are affixed with roofing nails. It is an important component to any roof as it is the main means of support for the waterproofing and shingle layers.

4. Roof Truss

A roof truss is composed of the roof beams, or rafters, of a home. In some homes, you may have rafters that are visible from the inside. Other homes will have a ceiling which covers them. Either way, these structures provide the base that the sheathing, underlayment and shingles sit on and are affixed to.

Now that you know the basic components of a roof, you can begin to plan a DIY weekend project. If you are repairing a section of your roof, you will need to purchase materials that match what your home already has installed.

Related: What Types of Roofing Materials Are Available for My Home?

You may decide to instead replace your entire roof for an upgrade. In this case, you can have some fun choosing newer materials or shopping around for the best prices. Either way, now you have some more knowledge to fulfill your DIY roofing goals.

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Krystal Coddington

Written by Krystal Coddington