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What's On Your Roof ? A Consumer Education Guide From NTRCA

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

NTRCA launched its ongoing Who’s On Your Roof? consumer awareness campaign in 2009 and, since then, has received national recognition from the National Roofing Contractors Association for it and was selected for the “Texans with Character” honor by CBS 11.

Our latest consumer resource focuses on WHAT’S on your roof. There’s a lot more to any roof than meets the eye, and as homeowners review insurance and contractor paperwork, it’s really helpful to understand the different components of a roof and the various layers that make up a professionally-installed roof.

Resourses like this are especially important in Texas, where most homeowners are surprised to learn that the state has no licensing, certification, registration or even insurance requirements for roofers. ANYONE can call themselves a roofer in Texas … and it’s not unusual to see an influx of out-of-state roofers or local folks in another profession suddenly become “roofers” after big storms hit North Texas.

In addition to shingles (or tiles, sheet metal etc.), most home’s roofs will have anywhere from several to all of the above components, depending on the size and shape of the roof and whether or not the home has a chimney.

Provided below are definitions of each component:

Chimney – a pipe through which smoke or gas goes up into the air, usually through the roof of a building.

Gutter – shallow troughs fixed beneath the edge of a roof, with the sole purpose of carrying off rainwater (learn more about gutters in NTRCA’s Gutters 101 article for homeowners).

Valley – a hollow resembling or suggesting a valley, as the point at which the two slopes of a roof meet

Chimney Cap – a cap or cover for a chimney; they help keep animals and rainwater out, block downdrafts, block debris and help stop sparks and embers

Vent Stack – an opening designed to convey air, heat, water vapor or other gas from inside a building or a building component to the atmosphere.

Attic Vent – part of an attic ventilation system that replenishes fresh air through the attic space (learn more about attic ventilation in NTRCA’s Attic Ventilation Basics article for homeowners)

Ridge Cap/Vent – a ridge cap is a material or covering applied over the ridge of a roof; a ridge vent is a ventilator located at the ridge that allows the escape of warm and/or moist air from the attic area or rafter cavity.

Fascia – a board that is nailed to the ends of a roof rafter; sometimes supports a gutter.

Soffit – the exposed undersurface of any exterior overhanging section of a roof eave; soffit vents (an air inlet source as part of attic ventilation) are often installed in soffits.

Counter Flashing – flashing is used to weatherproof or seal roof system edges at perimeters, penetrations, walls, expansion joints, valleys, drains and other places where the roof covering is interrupted or terminated. Counter flashing is a strip of sheet metal in the form of an inverted L built into a vertical wall of masonry and bent down over the flashing to make it watertight.

Hip Ridge – a material or covering applied over the ridge of a hip roof

Not only are there more components to a roof than most people realize, but there are also many more layers involved. And it is critical that these layers are applied properly by trained professionals – to protect your home AND to protect your roof’s warranty. To keep your warranty intact, a roof must be applied properly, per the shingle/tile manufacturer’s specs.

Provided below are definitions of each layer in the illustration above:

Decking – the foundation or base upon which the entire roofing system is dependent; can be made of steel, concrete, cement or wood (most home’s roof decks are made of wood in North Texas).

Drip Edge – a metal flashing or other overhanging component with an outward projecting lower edge intended to control the direction of dripping water and help protect underlying building components.

Felt/Underlayment – an asphalt-saturated felt or other sheet material installed between a roof deck and roof covering, used to separate a roof covering from the roof deck, shed water and provide secondary weather protection. When re-roofing a home, it’s important to make sure that your roofing contractor removes ALL of the old felt/underlayment and inspects the decking underneath. Manufacturers require this as part of their warranty, and it’s critical to inspect all of the decking (and fix any issues) before applying the new roof system.

Starter Edge – roll roofing or shingle strips applied along the downslope eave line before the first course of roof covering and intended to fill spaces between cutouts and joints of the first course.

Flashing – components used to weatherproof or seal roof system edges at perimeters, penetrations, walls, expansion joints, valleys, drains and other places where the roof covering is interrupted or terminated.

Headwall Counter Flashing – A headwall is defined by the junction between a sloped roof and a wall. Counter flashing this area of a roof correctly is very important to avoid leaks.

Sometimes, you’ll find a contractor offering a price to re-roof your home that, perhaps, sounds too good to be true. Often, it’s because they have not included all of the critical components of a roof system and/or don’t plan to remove your existing roof’s felt in order to provide the low number. Cutting corners to save money now could mean you spend more later as your roof system begins to fail or needs repaired. Make sure you know what you’re getting and/or not getting. And if you’re comparing bids, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

Find more North Texas consumer awareness resources at or

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