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A Homeowner’s Guide to Basic Roofing Terminology

Here at Revived Exteriors, we pride ourselves on open and honest communication with our colleagues and clients but also tend to use industry-specific terms that usually only other roofers can understand. 

Revived Exteriors values transparency with all of our clients so our goal here is to provide some insight and definitions to not only educate our current and future clients but also help you to be confident in discussing all things roofing. 

Follow along and we’ll have you sounding like a pro in no time. Let’s get started! 

What Is a Roof Really Made Of?

We all know our roof as the covering on the very top of our home that protects it from the weather. But did you know that a roofing system is designed to be water-shedding and not waterproof? 

It’s true! A quality roofing system is so much more than having a “good” shingle. 

Now, before we get into specific components, let’s cover the different parts of the overall roof.

A gray shingled roof against a blue sky, perfect for a roofing company aiming to showcase their expertise in commercial roofing and roof replacement.


Typically when we think of shingles (no, not the adult version of chickenpox) we think of the asphalt topped architectural type we see with most roofs that have been done in the last decade or so. 

An architectural shingle can be differentiated from other shingles by the layers. Each shingle strip will have 2 asphalt layers – a top layer staggered and stacked on the bottom layer. We would encourage you to google a pic and you’ll see what we mean. 

Another type of shingle we see is what is known as a 3-tab. The 3-tab shingle is much like it sounds. A single layer shingle cut part-way, up dividing it into 3 sections. These shingles will lie flat, forming one solid contiguous surface. 

The last type of shingle we see often is what is known as an “organic shingle.” Organic shingles are normally of the 3-tab variety, but the base under the asphalt top is a wood product of some sort. It’s important to note that organic shingles are no longer made and if you have them on your roof, we recommend contacting a reputable roofing company asap. 

A brick chimney with an arrow pointing to it, showcasing the expertise of a residential roofing company.


There are several types of flashing and their applications, but the easiest way to explain it is to just point anywhere on the roof where there is a horizontal-to-vertical transition. For example, roof to wall, roof to chimney, etc. The flashing is a clutch component on those transitions preventing water and ice from penetrating into the layer between shingles and/or siding. 

Ok, last little bit of info and you’re ready to give a roofer a tough time.

A shingled roof with arrows pointing in different directions, showcasing the expertise of a roofing company.


The ridge, or summit of the roof, is where two different sections meet to form a peak. Ridges normally run the length of the home.

A shingled roof with a ridge vent installed by a residential roofing contractor.


Venting can be accomplished through the use of box, slant back, or ridge vents. They are square looking boxes, usually on the back or sides of the roof or, in the case of the ridge vents, the slightly elevated portion of the ridge. Those vents work in tandem with soffit vents (we’ll get into that) that allow your roof to put it plainly, breathe.

An aerial view of a shingled roof with arrows pointing in different directions. This image showcases the expertise of a roofing company in the field of residential and commercial roofing.


The valley is the dip between the point where two slopes meet, creating a valley. Think of it as the opposite of a hip.

Gable Roof

A gable roof looks a lot like the houses we drew as kids. Remember the square with the door and windows drawn on it? The gable is the triangle we drew on top.


It’s kind of what it sounds like. It normally runs from the ridge down to the gutter line,  essentially giving your roof “hips.”


You know what gutters are but did you know gutters date back to between 3000 and 1500 BC? Seriously! Each year DIY gutter cleaners account for 164,000 ladder-related injuries. By calling us to install gutter guards at your home, we are significantly reducing your risk of injury. You’re welcome.


Squares are how we measure roof and siding measurements. 1 square = 100 square feet. That means if your roof is 30 squares, it is 3,000 square feet. Easy right?

There you have it. Just enough information to sound like an expert and more importantly, know what’s being discussed and potentially done with your home. For any additional help or residential roofing services, don’t hesitate to contact the best roofing contractor in Arlington Heights, IL.  We’re here to help. 

© Copyright | Revived Exteriors | *DISCLAIMER: Revived Exteriors, Inc. is neither a broker nor a lender. Financing is provided by third-party lenders unaffiliated with Revived Exteriors, Inc., under terms and conditions arranged directly between the customer and such lender, all subject to credit requirements and satisfactory completion of finance documents. Any finance terms advertised are estimates only. Revived Exteriors, Inc. does not assist with, counsel or negotiate financing, other than providing customers an introduction to lenders interested in financing Revived Exteriors customers.