How To Speak The Language Of Roofing Contractors

When you speak with roofing contractors about a project, it can be helpful to know how to talk the industry's talk a little bit. Although you don't need to sound like you've spent every summer for the last 20 years driving nails and getting sunburns, you'll still have an easier time if you understand the following four concepts.


This is the industry-standard unit of measurement for roofing materials, especially asphalt shingles. A square of shingles is 100 square feet of materials. When roofing contractors say a roof needs 10 squares, they mean that it will require about 1,000 square feet of product to cover.

Bear in mind that most professionals tend to overshoot their targets to make sure they have some leftover materials they can give to homeowners in case the roof needs repairs down the road. It helps to know the roof dimensions of your home's roof to ensure you're getting a fair quote on how many squares will be used, though.


The majority of roofs rise at least a little bit to encourage rain and snow to get off of them. The rate at which the roof rises is referred to as pitch. Pitch usually is represented in terms of how many inches the roof rises for every horizontal foot. For example, a house with a 3/12 pitch would rise three inches for every foot of horizontal distance from the edge of the roof.


Of the roofing terms that contractors use, this is one that can leave customers feeling the most confused. Re-roofing is a type of project, specifically a job where new shingles are laid over the top of existing ones.

Be aware that roofing materials are very heavy, especially products made from asphalt. Depending on the size of a roof and how much snow load the region takes in the winter, a roof can bear a maximum of between three and six layers of materials before it must be stripped.


Putting down fresh materials is the next level up from re-roofing. The old shingles are scraped off the roof, and the underlying felt is also pulled up. If there is trouble with any of the underlying decking, joists, or support beams, repairs will be administered. Once everything is solid enough to support a fresh roof, new felt will be nailed into the decking and new shingles will be overlaid. New flashing, soffit, and fascia may also be installed to seal up the edges.