Roofing Terminology: Talk Like a Roofer


If you need a replace your shingles or repair your roof in Saskatoon and you are getting ready to meet with a few contractors you connected with through Kijenga, you’ll want to be equipped to have a productive conversation about an estimate of costs and projected timelines. Be prepared by understanding the terms that professional roofers use so that you can keep up.

Here is a basic guide so that you get the most out of your contractor meetings and not spend the majority of your time on trying to decipher the roofing jargon.

Roofing Styles

The most common roof styles are the hip and gable.


A hip roof has a ridge at the top and slopes on all four sides. All the sides of a hip roof are of equal length.

Hip roofs are ideal for homes in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan because the snow will slide right off during the winter months. Also, a house with a hip roof will most likely have a big attic or vaulted ceilings.

Gable and Shed 

A gable roof is triangle-shaped while a shed roof is one that slopes in a single direction. A single home can have multiple styles, and you’ll often see you a gable roof with shed-style dormers which is a roofed structure, often containing a window, which projects vertically beyond the plane of a pitched roof.

Slope and Pitch

There is the common misconception that slope and pitch are the same thing. They certainly are not. Here are the differences:

Slope is the incline of the roof which is expressed as a ratio of the vertical rise to the horizontal run where the run is a fraction of the span. A roof that rises 4 inches for every 1 foot or 12 inches of run is said to have a “4 in 12” slope.

Pitch of a roof is its vertical rise divided by its horizontal span (or “run”). In geometry, this is called “slope” in geometry or the tangent function in trigonometry. Definitions vary when a roof is considered pitched.

It should be noted that a roof with a high pitch and steep for roofers is likely going to cost more for the labour. “A roof with lots of peaks and valleys will be quoted higher because of the risky work required and the complexity it comes with.” says Shane Regush, owner of Go2Guys in Saskatoon.

Decking, Eaves, Ridges, Valleys

All roofs have a deck, eaves, and ridges and a lot have valleys.

Decking is the foundation of your roof, and the deck base rests against the attic. It covers the rafters and supports the weight of the roofing materials.

Eaves are the edges of the roof that jut out over the walls of your home. The eaves help keep attics from getting too warm. Gutters are placed at the edges of eaves to help push water running off of the roof away from the house.

Ridges are where two roof lines intersect and are the highest points on the roof.

And roof valleys are formed where two section of a roof come together.

Underlayment, Shingles, and Flashing

The roofing underlayment is the primary layer of waterproofing material that goes before the shingles or roofing materials. It is essentially a roll of felt paper or fiberglass saturated with asphalt.

“You would be surprised at how many roofs in Saskatoon don’t have the basic underlay required to properly seal your home. Ask the roofing contractor you’re interviewing about the underlay they are going to use on your home and ensure they do as they say. All projects completed by Go2Guys has RhinoRoof which is a synthetic roofing underlayment. It acts as an air, water and vapour barrier and is 12x stronger than #30 felt. Living in Saskatchewan, we also use IKO Ice and Water Protectors for the valleys and edges for total weather protection and peace of mind.”

Roofing shingles are what provide aesthetic value to your house, and homeowners often put the most thought into the kind of shingles to use for this reason. But beyond being the element that brings beauty to your home, shingles block UV rays from the sun and prevent water from leaking into your attic.

Flashing is a corrosion-resistant metal strip installed at the roof edges and seams because that is where water will most likely seep through the asphalt shingles and underlayment. Flashing directs water away from these trouble spots and gets it into the gutters. The four main types of flashing are:

1.         Base flashing is applied directly to the roof. It is also referred to as step flashing.

2.         Cap flashing is used around chimneys or walls. It is also referred to as counter flashing.

3.         Drip edge flashing is applied at the roof’s edge where the gutter is.

4.         Valley flashing is added to roof valleys.

“We recommend that homeowners ask a million questions when hiring a roofer.” says Shane Regush with Go2Guys. “Don’t hire the first company to give you a quote. Understand what you’re getting for your money. We see a lot of projects where cap flashing isn’t being used around chimneys and it’s causing major problems. Most roofers are just that, roofers. They’re good at replacing your shingles but oftentimes it’s the little things that make a big difference whether it’s a proper drip edge, installing a quality underlay, or going 2 shingles under, one over when working around vents or anything exposed.”

Now that you have a cheat sheet on roofing terminologies, you’re ready to start hunting for the right roofer in Saskatoon to get started on your roof project. And when they recognize that you’ve done your homework, they’ll be impressed, and you can get straight to the more important matters like materials, design, budget, and scheduling.

Post your roofing or shingle replacement project in Saskatoon and Kijenga will connect you with certified and verified contractors to get the job done! Get quotes now. Post Your Project for Free!

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