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Important Roofing Terminology in Nashville, Tennessee

Important Roofing Terminology to Know in Nashville, Tennessee

The roof is one of the most important structures of a house, so it is a good idea for homeowners in Nashville, Tennessee to understand the components of a roof along with some general roofing terminology. Not only is this important to understand as a homeowner, but when you suspect something might be wrong with your roof, you can more confidently discuss the issue with a repairman or your insurance agent.

Components of a roof

Before fully understanding what might be going wrong with a roof, you must know the components of a roof since a problem could lie in any part of the structure. A roof may simply seem like a covering for your home, but it is actually a complex structure made of several components to provide you and your family protection. Learn about the components of a roof and why they are important below.


  • Rafters
    Rafters are the most basic structural component of your roof. Rafters are the beams that extend from the peak to the edge of the roof to support the roof load. The angle of the rafters also determines the pitch (angle) of your roof. Higher pitched roofs remove water more easily, which can reduce the risk of water damage but can lead to higher heating and cooling costs compared to a lower pitched roof.

  • Purlins
    Purlins are structural horizontal beams that help to further stabilize and strengthen the rafters. This is particularly important in areas like Nashville that can experience strong winds.

Roof covering

  • Underlayment
    The first part of a roof’s covering is the underlayment, which is a waterproof barrier typically made of asphalt-saturated felt. The underlayment helps to prevent leakage and water damage.

  • Decking or sheathing
    Installed over the rafters, the decking (also known as sheathing) are wooden boards, typically plywood or planks, that your roofing materials get installed on. It also acts as a type of insulation for a home in conjunction with the underlayment.

  • Ice and water shield
    Placed over the sheathing and underneath the shingles (or other chosen roofing material), this shield is a waterproof membrane that helps to protect the sheathing if water gets underneath your roofing material.

  • Roofing material
    Shingles are the most common type of roofing material used in the Nashville area, but there are other options. Metal roofing, cedar roofing, synthetic roofing, clay tiles, and rubber slate are all options used around the country. The type of material you choose for a roof impacts the cost and lifespan of your roof, and some types are better suited for specific climates.

  • Ridge capping
    Ridge capping resembles regular shingles but is a bit thicker and pre-bent to cover the ridges on a roof where two slopes meet. They help prevent water and small debris from penetrating lower levels of the roof.

  • Flashing
    Usually made from aluminum, steel, or copper, roof flashing is a thin metal material that helps to direct water away from areas like walls, chimneys, or valleys on the roof.

  • Vents
    Vents are installed on the roof to allow the attic and home to breathe properly. Without them, damage can be done to your roof if hot or cold air is constantly being trapped beneath it.

Roof edge

  • Drip edge
    This metal flashing is installed at the eaves and rakes of the roof to keep water away from the fascia to avoid moisture getting under any of the roofing components. It helps to prevent the decking from rotting out.

  • Fascia and soffit
    The fascia is the portion of the side of your home that is covered by your home’s overhang. The soffit is below the fascia and constitutes the exposed siding of your home not covered by the overhang. If you notice damage in these areas, there may be an issue with your drainage.

  • Gutter and downspout.
    Though they are attached to the roof, gutters are more about protecting the foundation of your home. A good gutter and downspout system is a crucial component of a home that lies near the roof. Downspouts help direct water away from your home, which protects your foundation and siding.

Professional help is available

Now that you have a basic understanding of the main components of a roof, you can more confidently speak to others about what you think might be going wrong. These terms only scratch the surface of roofing terminology, but our team at Mr. Roof Nashville is always happy to educate homeowners on what they should know about their roofs specifically. Since so many of the components of a roof are meant to prevent water damage, discovering where a problem is occurring can be difficult. If you have questions about the construction or integrity of your roof, or if you suspect damage, contact us today to schedule an inspection.