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Anatomy Of A Roof

Published on Monday February 21, 2022

The extent to which someone understands the roof of their home varies from one homeowner to another. While one homeowner might put a lot of time and energy into learning about the design and anatomy of a roof, another may never consider it besides the occasional gutter cleaning or shingle replacement. The roof is an essential part of your home, and while you don’t necessarily need to understand the full anatomy of a roof frame to properly care for your home, this knowledge can help you make better installation and repair decisions moving forward.

It’s important to keep practicality, function, and appeal in mind when dealing with a roof structure. Here is a quick rundown of the anatomy of a roof to help you gain a better understanding of your home.

The Anatomy of a Roof


The overall framework—or initial structure—is what forms the base for a roof. It’s crucial to get the anatomy of a roof frame correct if you want to have a durable, reliable finished project. This portion of a roof’s anatomy includes the rafters and trusses, which are the beams that create the roof’s shape. Framework and the sheathing—or roof deck—are sometimes considered to be part of the structural elements of a roof’s anatomy.

Roof Decking

While sometimes considered part of the structure or frame of the roof, decking is a vital portion of a roof’s anatomy. This is the flat base. It’s typically made from wood panels such as plywood. They’re installed on top of the framework of the roof, providing a flat place for the rest of the roof installation.


It’s important to consider drainage when designing a roof structure. For the anatomy of a roof to be properly protected, it needs some type of drainage allowance. This means there must be elements built into the roof to allow water and moisture to drain away from the roof. Often, this is the roof’s shape, configuration, or slope. They all contribute to directing water or snow accumulation off the roof in an easy way. 

Roof Underlayment

Underlayment immediately follows the roof decking. It’s the second layer of defense to help keep your home better protected against moisture infiltration. Roof underlayment is installed between the roof decking and any other roofing materials like shingles or metal panels. Roof underlayment can be either felt or synthetic. It has different advantages and durability levels depending on what materials you choose. The best material type of roof underlayment for your home depends largely on your roof type, environment, and the weather conditions near your home.

Roof Covering

A roof covering is what’s placed over the roof underlayment and decking, and there is a lot of variety when it comes to the roof covering possibilities. Since this is what determines how your roof looks, it’s the part of a roof’s anatomy homeowners are most familiar with. 

Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular types of residential roof coverings, largely due to their reliability, affordability, and easy installation process (most roofing companies have experience in installing a quality asphalt shingle roof). That being said, there are a lot of great options for a roof covering: metal panels, stone, slate, shakes, tiles, and even synthetic materials that offer a lot of longevity and durability benefits. Contact us if you have questions about the best roof covering for your home.


Fastener attachments are a necessary aspect of a roof’s anatomy. Fasteners keep your roof covering secured to your roof. They change depending on what roof covering you choose for your home. For example, nails are commonly used for asphalt shingles, but metal panels require special metal fasteners. You can also find bonding, glue, tar, and adhesive paper to secure certain types of roof coverings. 


Your roof flashings are sheet metal pieces or some other sturdy materials that cover protrusions in your roof. They are tucked around joints and angles—especially around chimneys, venting, and any other area a leak is possible—to help keep your roof moisture-tight. Flashings direct water away from your roof, keeping the roof safe from leaks and water damage. They usually transport water down towards the home’s gutter system.

Gutter System

Most modern residential homes are equipped with a gutter system on their roof. Gutters and drip edges are vital to any quality roof. They carry water away from the roof and keep it from pooling around your home’s foundation. This helps protect both your roof and the foundational structure of your home.


Vents help extend the lifespan of your roof by allowing it to breathe. They reduce the amount of moisture build-up, reducing your risk of mold, mildew, and rot. Without roof ventilation, your attic will end up warmer and stuffy, blowing up your energy bill. A lack of roof ventilation can also lead to ice dams in the winter which can damage your gutter system.


The attic of a home is any space directly under the roof. Your attic needs to get proper ventilation to keep your home energy efficient and your roof protected. Ventilation will reduce moisture accumulation throughout the year, and it will make it easier to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

High-Quality Roof Repair

Understanding the anatomy of a roof helps you better understand necessary roof repairs or upgrades. If you’re looking for high-quality roof repair, the experts at Long Home Products can get the job done. Find your closest Long Home Products location today.

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*Excludes labor. Subject to credit approval.

**Excludes labor. Subject to credit approval.

One-day installs contingent upon municipal rules and regulations.

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