A Vocabulary Lesson In Roofing - Showalter Roofing Services
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A Vocabulary Lesson in Roofing

Published by Andrew Schmidt

Your roof is one of the defining elements of your home. Where you live, the structure of your home and your personal taste dictate the roof’s lines, style, shape and slope. Although the roof of a home is important, most people often don’t know much about roofing systems, which is why we have provided a glossary of basic terms that may come in handy for your next roofing project.

Roof Shape

Roofs fall into one of two basic shape families: either gabled, or hipped.

Gabled: Houses that have gabled roofs are distinguished by the straight slope falling from ridge to eave, creating a peak or triangle on the side or front facade. Gabled houses have rakes on the gable facades and eaves on the non-gabled facades.

Side-gabled: This style locates the front door on the non-gabled facade.

Front-gabled: Houses have the peak or gable facing the front.

Cross-gabled: Houses have additional sections crossing perpendicular to the main section, meeting in a valley, each with its own gabled peak or facade.

Hipped: This type of roof breaks the roof plain along the slope line, allowing the roof to bend or wrap around the house. There is an even roof to wall junction all the way around the house and eaves on all sides.

Simple: A hipped roof where all four faces rise to a ridge across the top, often with broader faces across the front slope and narrower side sections.

Pyramidal: A hipped roof where all four sides come to a point at the roof peak.

Cross-hipped: A roof with multiple sections that cross the main section, meeting in a valley, each with its own hipped profile.

Dormers and Gables

Gables: Roof sections that face in a different directions from the main roof. They are built as part of the roof and have no walls.

Dormers: Sections that rise up out of the roof and are often separate from the roof-to-wall junction. They are also classified by their roof shape.

Roof dormers: Pop up from the main roof line, appearing almost like a small house with its own walls, roof and window. They provide light, space and ventilation to the topmost spaces in the house.

Wall dormers: Rise from the roof line at the roof to wall junction, but have walls.

Eave Details

Eave: The edge of the roof that runs horizontally across the facade, compromised of the rafter ends used to construct the roof. They may be open or enclosed with a lot, a little or no overhang.

Fascia: A flat horizontal band around a roof’s perimeter.

Boxed eave: An overhang enclosed with a soffit that runs horizontally from the eave edge to the side of the building.

Cornice: The decorative section just below the roof line. Depending on building style, it can be simple or ornate.

Rake: The pitched edge of a gabled roof. It may be close, or extend from the building to create an overhang.


Pitch: The degree of slope, or steepness, of the roof from ridge to eave or valley.

Low slope: A roof angle that is less than 30 degrees.

Normal slope: A roof angle that is between 30 and 45 degrees.

Steep slope: A roof angle that is more than 45 degrees.


Courtesy of Renovate Your World


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