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Roofing Components Basics [The Quick and Essential Guide]

Posted by Northface Construction  - Owner & Founder

There are many different components of roofing that can seem confusing to the everyday homeowner. Northface Construction is here to break it down for you. Whether you’re working on some roof repairs by yourself, or you’re hiring a roofing company and you want to understand just what the heck they’re saying, here’s your guide to roof structure and framing basics.

Getting to Know Your Roof

Your roof’s main function is to protect the home from the elements like wind, rain, hail, snow and ice, which is why you need a highly functional roof that keeps you safe from adverse weather. The way in which your roof is installed will ultimately determine how well water and other damaging elements are kept at bay. Now that you understand the essential function of a roof, let’s talk about the different components that make it up.

Basic Roof Components

Here are some of the basic components of your roof:


The underlayment of your roof is composed of a black paper-like material that’s placed over the plywood sheeting. This component seals the roof, protecting it from damaging elements like water or snow. A waterproof membrane, a sweat sheet or vapor barrier is required, with the underlayment paper serving these three functions.


The purpose of roof flashing is to divert water from places where it might collect, such as hips and valleys, and is made up of small metal pieces. Flashing comes in a large number of different materials, such as galvanized flashing, alloy, regular and lead coated copper, and stainless steel. Any of these are good options to protect your home from water damage.

Shingles and Tile

Comprising the outermost part of the roof, the shingles or tiles are what sit on top of the underlayment and form a barrier against harmful elements. When it comes to residential roofing, the same types of shingles and tiles have been in use for hundreds of years. In fact, you can find intact tiles from civilizations thousands of years old. Despite their long history in protecting homes, however, shingles and tiles are only two types of material among many that you can use to cover the roof. Others include concrete, ceramic, wood and metal.


While often overlooked, the trim actually provides a few crucial benefits. First of all, trim protects your roof’s seams, such as near a hip or a ridge, sealing joints where a transition is made in the slope and direction of your roof.  Secondly, it provides aesthetic quality that gives your home a finished look, helping boost your curb appeal.

The Seven Primary Design Aspects of Your Roof

  1. Ridge — The ridge is the highest point or peak of your roof
  2. Hip — The hip is the high point of your roof where two adjoining sections meet
  3. Dormer — Dormers are sections of the home that extrude from the roof. In general, they are added to bring light into an attic or the upper level of your home
  4. Gables — Gables are triangular portions of the ends of the home, which extend from the eaves to the peak of the roof
  5. Pitch — The pitch of your roof refers to the slope of the roof
  6. Eaves — Eaves are the component of the roof that extends past the rest of the home
  7. Valley — The valley is the point where two sections of the roof slope downward and join together

You Now Know the Basics of Roof Structure and Framing

Now that you have this guide to the basics of roof structure and framing, you’re in a good position to tackle basic problems yourself, or consult with a professional roofer and have a meaningful conversation about your project.

If you’re in the market for a new roof, remember that Northface Construction is the premier contractor in Minnesota, offering full-service roof repair, replacement and installation. We’re committed to providing each and every one of our clients with exceptional roof services that add function and beauty to your home. If you’re ready to get started improving your home, call us today to speak with one of our dedicated construction specialists – they’re standing by ready to answer your questions.

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