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Roof Components: Know Your Roofing System

Posted on March 8, 2022

Estimated Reading Time : 6 Min.

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Roof Components: Know Your Roofing System

We all know that protection from the elements — wind, rain, and snow — are why we need a roof. And of course, this is one of the primary reasons we need a robust and premium-quality roof. But roofing isn’t as simple as saying, “I need a roof — buy this one.”

When you hire a professional contractor to install your new roof, they don’t only lay asphalt shingles over your home. Instead, they use various roof components that protect your home. These additional roof components are what you should know about if you are thinking about re-roofing your property. For example, the drip edge prevents water from getting to the fascia board and the underlayment, which helps keep the shingles in place.

This guide will show you how to build your roof from the ground up. Whether you want to update an existing roof or build a new home, you’ll need to understand the different types of roofs available and what you should look out for when shopping around.

Understand the Essential Roof Components

Multiple different components make up a roofing system. Each part is unique and has its own purpose. Roofing materials sometimes have different names for the same material, and some words may not be familiar. But understanding these different parts will allow you to better understand the components of your roof, what makes your roof strong, and how all these different products work together to keep your home safe from the elements.

Do you know what makes up a roof? Unfortunately, some of it involves tricky terminology. So let’s make parts easy to understand.

Roof Structure

This grouping of roof components covers the structural aspects of your roof. Think of them as the elements seen when a house is being built, and only its framing is visible — woods, metal, and other similar materials.


A Rafter is a sloped structural beam that extends from the peak of a roof to its eaves. A typical house in the United States has approximately two rafters for each square foot of attic floor area. They are spaced at 16″ on center (OC) vertically. They provide support for both vertical and horizontal surfaces and allow for drainage at the eaves, where water can eventually fall through downspouts. By choosing suitable materials and assembling them correctly, you can ensure that your home’s rafters will last for many years.


Exposed rafters and trusses are typical in custom homes, and many homeowners like the exposed wood design. However, wooden rafters often need to be tied together with purlins (supports used for roofing) to support the home in areas prone to heavy winds or snow loads. Steel purlins can be used instead of plywood decking, which is sometimes needed to connect multiple rafters.


The roof’s pitch is the slope of the roof. The front face of a pitched roof rises from the wall at an angle. This is expressed as the ratio between the rise and horizontal span of the roof, meaning how much it rises vertically and how much it spreads horizontally. The angle of inclination is another way to measure this — some roofs are flat, some are very steep!


As the name suggests, roof valleys are the dip between two roof slopes on the same plane of a roof. The result is an inverted “V” shape that channels excess water towards downspouts. Unfortunately, valleys are also the leakiest part of a roof. Without a suitable valley sealant, roofs will be prone to various problems.


Ridges are the horizontal beams that connect vertical stripes on the top of a roof. This can be done in various ways, depending on the style of roof you have and its intended use. Still, they all serve one primary purpose: strengthening your home’s roof against the elements.

Roof Covering

One of the essential parts of any roof is the covering, or as some call it, shingles. The covering provides a visual appeal to your home and protects your residence from water damage and temperature changes. Some coverings are made of natural wood or synthetic materials like slate or plastic. There is a plethora of roof covering options for you to choose from when building your roof.


To ensure the best use of your heater and air conditioner, installing attic insulation is one of the best ways to help reduce your energy consumption. The thermal barrier created by attic insulation helps prevent heat from escaping your home — helping you save on heating and cooling costs.


Roof decks are one of the main components of a roof, and they serve two purposes. They support the structure beneath them and create a working surface upon which roofing materials like shingles are nailed. There are many different roof decking options available. When you’re building a new deck, it’s best to ensure you get the suitable materials for the job. Most people just go to the hardware store and pick up a few composite wood sheets and call it good. But that’s not the case — an underlayment is just as necessary as the top cover. If they aren’t carefully selected, you’ll find yourself dealing with water damage in no time.


The roof is the structure and skeleton of your home, so it’s vital to ensure proper protection. Underlayment is an essential part of your roof system. It acts as a water-resistant layer installed directly onto your roof. Its purpose is to protect the core of your home from water damage. Asphalt-saturated felt is the most basic underlayment for a professional roofing system because it provides a secondary water barrier to prevent water damage in case of leaks.


The roof is the outermost layer of your home, so it needs to be able to protect you from the harsh outside world. Roof shingles are specially designed for heavy snow loads, strong winds, and intense sunshine. Unfortunately, not all are created equal when it comes to roofing materials. Some can last up to 50 years, while others can crack and leak within just a few years. When looking for a new roof, always choose the suitable material for your home — asphalt shingles are often chosen because of their low price tag and metal for their longevity.


It may not be the most exciting part of your roofing system, but flashing is an essential roof component. It helps prevent rainwater from leaking into your home, ensuring water damage does not occur. Although it may be easy to overlook, ensuring you have the proper amount of flashing around your roof components is vital. These areas include chimneys, skylights, vents, and valleys.

Roof Edge

Your roof is the last step in completing your home. While it doesn’t get as much time in the spotlight, it is not complete without a sturdy and reliable installation. Here are a few must-have features for a top-notch roof installation:


Roofs of most houses have eaves. These are the lowest part of the roof, and at the same time, preventive gutter systems are installed here. Eaves are a place where there is a higher chance of leakage. The buildup of rainwater quickly occurs if preventive gutter systems aren’t installed properly. Houses with peeling or deteriorated gutters are more prone to leaks and water damage which causes thousands in expenses.

Drip Edge:

It protects against water infiltration on the roof, which provides a long-term solution to prevent your roof from premature wear and tear. Drip Edge protects the entire perimeter of the roof, including over the eaves and sidewalls. This is not a requirement but is highly recommended for safety purposes. In addition, this will significantly reduce moisture damage to your shingles and sidings.


A fascia is a piece of wood or other material fastened along the roof’s edge to protect walls and hold up gutters. It typically is white but can also be found in other colors such as gray, black, or brown.


It helps conceal the underside of your home’s roofing, but they are so much more than simple aesthetic additions. They can also assist with keeping out the mold, bugs, rain, and other elements — keeping your home dry and comfortable.

Gutters & Downspouts:

Gutters are the ideal addition to your home’s eaves. Not only do gutters divert rainwater away from your foundation, but they also protect your roof and house from severe weather damage. Unfortunately, gutters and downspouts are often seen as strictly functional roof and house maintenance elements. Still, with many stylish options, there’s no reason why your gutters should ever be an eyesore.

To Sum It Up

Our team has put together this guide to the main roof components to help you understand the most critical parts of your roof. If you need any further assistance, don’t hesitate to ask us. We’re here to help! BRH Enterprises is just one call away from answering your concerns and questions about your roofing system in Wisconsin. So, give us a call today at (920) 249-4228.

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