Roofing Glossary

A brief explanation of commonly used roofing words and phrases.  


Artificial slate – a man-made fibre-cement slate designed to imitate natural slates.

Barge – timber or plastic that runs underneath the verge.

Batten – the timber used to provide support and a fixing point for roofing materials, such as tiles.

Bond – the layout of tiles. Plain tiles are always laid in a broken bond so that any water draining into vertical joints between tiles is guided out by the one below; profiled tiles depend on manufacturer.

Bonnet – a purpose-made tile for a plain tile hip, designed to create the aesthetic of a continuous tile course.

Breathable membrane – a water resistant but air permeable membrane.

Capping pot – a clay pot that is fitted into the chimney pot and used to terminate the chimney. Also known as a termination pot.

Chimney pot – the terracotta pot that extends from the top of the chimney.

Concrete plain – a machine-made plain tile made from concrete. They can be smooth, fine-faced, or granular.

Course – a row of tiles that runs parallel to the fascia.

Cowl – a metal ventilator and birdguard that sits on top of the chimney pot. Different types of cowls are necessary for differing chimney uses.

Decking – the flat timber base of a flat roof.

Dormer – a small roof that projects out of the main roof. usually contains a window.

Dry Fix – a system used for ridges, verges, hips, and valleys where mortar is not used.

Eaves – the bottom of the roof; also relates to plain tiles that are shorter in length than regular tiles.

Fascia – timber or plastic fitted to the end of rafters to support the first course of tiles, and to offer a fixing point for the gutter.

Flashing – a section of lead at a roof-wall abutment to prevent water ingress.

Gable (end) – the triangular section of wall at the end of two pitched roofs. Gable also refers to a plain tile that is 50% wider than a regular tile.

Gauge – the batten spacing distance between each course. Each manufacturer specifies a maximum gauge for each type of tile (i.e. plain tiles are 100mm).

General Tile Repairs  repairs carried out to the main body of tiles, and excludes any and all tiles that are cut and/or have been bedded on mortar.  

Gutter – the water discharge system used to carry water from the eaves to a drain/the ground.

Handcrafted clay – plain tiles that are made by machine before being finished by hand to mimic an aged appearance to match handmade tiles.

Handmade clay – plain tiles that are made solely by hand.

Hip – the point where to pitched roofs meet to form an external corner. Can be finished with hip ridge tiles or bonnets. 

Hip End – a triangle of roof with a hip on either side.

Interlocking tiles – a tile with an overcloak and a channel, where the overcloak covers the channel of the adjacent tile. They come in a lot of different profiles.  

Machine-made clay – a plain tile made from clay using a machine. Usually quite regular in shape and profile.

Mortar – the sand and cement mix used to secure and weather hips, verges, and ridge. Commonly interchanged with “cement” and “muck”.

Natural slate – a slate made by splitting natural rocks into thin sheets. Vary due to the origin of the original rock (Welsh, Spanish, Canadian).

Peg tiles – a clay plain tile without nibs and hangs on peg drop nails.

Plain tiles – a flat-profiled roofing tile that has two projecting nibs at the back.

Profiled tiles – an interlocking tile with a definitive shape, such as rolls/peaks and troughs.

Pitch – the angle or steepness of the roof, usually measured in degrees.

Quilt Insulation – a thermal insulation for the flat areas of ceiling in the loft space.

Rafter – a structural timber that runs from eaves to ridge or hip.

Ridge – the highest point or apex of a roof, indicated by the horizontal line where two roofs meet. Also refers to ridge tiles (which are half-pipe or a similar shape) or the ridge timber beam between two sets of rafters.

Rigid Insulation – a thermal insulation for skeiling areas/pitched areas of ceiling in the loft space.

Roof window – a window set at the same pitch as the roof. Regularly referred to as a Velux window.

Slate – refers to natural slate. Also used to mean artificial slates.  

Soffit – timber or plastic on the underside of overhanging eaves. Runs perpendicular and joins to the fascia.

Undercloak – tiles or fibre-cement board that is used to hold the verge tiles and mortar.

Valley – where two pitched roofs meet to form an internal corner. Can be lead, fibreglass, or a purpose-made valley tile (similar to a bonnet)

Verge – the end of the roof where it meets a gable end. Also refers to a plain tile that is 50% wider than a regular tile.

Vertical tiling – an area of wall with plain tiles fixed to it.

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