How to Identify Parts of a Roof


Identifying the parts of your roof will benefit you greatly if you are planning to make improvements. Knowing certain terms like fascia and soffit will help expedite the process of laying new roofing on your home. When making minor repairs to your roof, it is also helpful to recognize the area of concern and know the layers of the roof in detail.

  • Pinpoint the truss and the rafters. The frame that represents the skeleton of the roof is the truss. Beneath the truss, inside of the home, are the rafters that line the base of the truss for added support. The dormer covers the windows in an umbrella-like fashion when a roof has a steep slope.

  • Recognize the wood panel sheathing that lies on top of the truss. Look above the sheathing to find the underlayment which protects the home from moisture with thick, tar-like layers. Observe the shingles that sit on the outermost layer of the roof. Shingles provide texture and color diversity to the home while absorbing or deflecting light and heat.

  • See the chimney that protrudes from the home at heights of two to four feet. Find the metal flashing that surrounds the chimney to prevent moisture from entering the home. Identify the point where two sides of the roof meet, called the ridge. Spot the valley where two parts of the roof at different angles meet, creating a dip.

  • Distinguish the gutter from the downspout. The gutter surrounds the outer edge of the roof to collect water runoff, sending the water down and away from the property via the connected downspout. Vents are also noticeable at any given point on the roof. Ridge vents are small venting screens placed in the roof ridge to let excess heat escape. Soffit vents are made of a plastic material instead of a solid wood plank as mentioned above. The vents are slits within the plastic, just enough to let heat escape. Powered roof vents are also found anywhere on the roof and provide an outlet for heat, smoke and moisture from the bathroom and kitchen.

  • Specify the fascia at the edge of the rafters and the outward facing eaves. The eaves are found on the lower side of a sloped roof, projecting out from the house. The fascia are the end pieces, running vertically at the roof's edge, next to the gutters. They create a more presentable appearance and often hold the gutters in place. The soffits are just below the eaves and connect the house to the edge of the roof truss. Each soffit runs along the entire length of the roof base perimeter to protect the roof from birds and other pests.

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  • Photo Credit Roof image by Mohd Haka Khambali from
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