Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Common roofing construction terms 5

Common construction terms 5              Roofing

Have you have ever been on a construction site talking to your contractor and been totally lost in the terms that they are using? Well I’m here to help; here are some common terms that contractor’s use that you might not understand.

Roof jacks. These are used by roofers to help stand on the roof, hold tools and stop material from sliding off. They are made out of metal and are in the shape of triangle with a hook protruding from the top. They also have a flat metal piece that runs about 1 ft away from the triangle; this is the part that gets nailed into the roof. The hook coming off the triangle is to hold the plank that the roofer will stand on.

Cleats. This is a 2x4 that is nailed to the roof horizontally to provide footing for a roofer standing on the roof before shingles are installed.

Asphalt shingles. This is the most popular type of roofing material, made from oil products and has an asphalt finish.

Fibreglass backed shingles. New shingles on the market today come with fibreglass matting on the back to help increase the lifespan of the shingle.

3 tab. Refers to a type of asphalt shingle. This shingle has three separate taps that show on the face after it has been installed.

Starter strip. This is a piece of thin metal that is placed at the edge of the roof; it overhangs far enough to cover the finished facia. It is installed first before any shingling is started.

Ice and Water shield. This is a waterproof film that is self adhering to the plywood of the roof. It is usually applied at the bottom of the roof, up the valleys and anywhere a potential leak could occur.

Cap. These are shingles that are placed over the top of the peak to protect it from water penetration and to give the roof a finished look.

Roof vents. These are plastic or metal vents that are installed near the top of the roof to allow heat and humidity from the attic to escape.

Ridge vent. This is a vent that is installed at the peak of the roof; the plywood is removed within a couple of inches each way to allow air to escape.

Shingle over ridge vent. This is a ridge vent that is designed to have asphalt shingles installed over top of it to create a cap.

Wet patch. This is liquid tar that is used to fill holes in shingles and cover any nail or screws to help protect from water penetration.

Step flashing.  These are pieces of metal that are bent at a 90 degree angle and are placed where the roof meets a sidewall or a chimney. Each piece of step flashing is placed under a shingle and then overlaps the next piece of step flashing as it runs vertically up the roof.

Valley flashing. This is the flashing that is installed in the valleys of the roof. They are pre-manufactured and come in several different colours.

Shingle lift. This is a re-enforced ladder that has a winch attached to one side that raises a wooden or metal box up the ladder, this helps take shingles up to the roof instead of putting them on your shoulder and carrying it up the ladder.

Shingle nails. Shingle nails are between 1 and 1.5 inches in length. They have a large flat head.

Cedar shakes. This is a roofing material that is made from cedar; it is cut into a shake style and installed in rows overlapping each other.  They are installed from the bottom of the roof to the top like asphalt shingles.

Shakes. This refers to cedar shakes.

Enviroshake. This is a shingle product that is made from recycled materials and ethanol organic waste. It is made to look like cedar shakes and is installed the same way, but has a much longer lifespan.

Steel roofing. This is roofing that is made from sheets of steel that have ridges in them on the vertical to help with cosmetics appeal and also give the steel strength.

Rubber washered screws. These are the screws that are used to install steel roofing. They are a hex head with a normal screw shank. The difference is that they have a rubber washer under the head of the screw that gets compressed over the hole as the shank of the screw is inserted through the metal rib of the roof. This helps create a leak proof fastener.

Slate. Slate is still used in some parts of North America. It is installed on roofs as individual pieces about the size of a cedar shake. It is made from natural slate stone.

Boot. This is the rubber flashing that is placed over plumbing pipes and stacks that protrude out of the roof. It helps keep the water from running down the pipe into the home. It actually friction fits over top of the plumbing stack, the friction is what creates the watertight seal.

Tied off.  This means that the workers on the roof have connected the safety lines to their body harnesses to prevent them from falling off the roof.

Magnate. Roofers use a bar magnate that is on wheels, they role the magnate around the lawn and the driveway to pick up any stray nails.

This should help you understand what your contractor is talking about the next time you have a meeting with them. Look for part 6 of common construction terms, coming soon.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.


  1. Great info regarding roofing contractor.I like all your post.I will keep visiting this blog very often.It is good to see you verbalize from the heart and your clarity on this important subject can be easily observed.

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  2. I just want to add that Asphalt shingles are the most commonly chosen roofing materials nowadays. Some of the benefits in using this kind of material include easy installation, and it’s less costly to maintain. This material can be easily repaired when damaged because of this solid structure. That’s why this type is the most inexpensive roofing material.

    Danielle Bailey

  3. Choosing your roof style has to the most important decision you make with regard to a roof replacement project.

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