Roof Anatomy: What Our Lakewood Roofer Wants You To Know

Friday, 12 June 2020 11:29

When you think of the word “roof,” what comes to mind? As is the case with most homeowners, shingles might be the first thing that pops into your head. While shingles are important for any roof, they aren’t the only things that are protecting your home. In fact, there are many other critical parts and pieces hiding underneath that top layer of roof shingles. The anatomy of your roof can be a bit complex and difficult to fully understand. As a top Lakewood roofer, we wanted to offer some clarity for the anatomy of a typical roof.

Let’s break down the structure of your roof and identify how each piece serves a specific function.

Expand Your Roofing Knowledge With Our Lakewood Roofer

At first, it might seem like a waste of time to learn more about the structure of your roof. However, some extra roofing knowledge can greatly benefit you as a homeowner. When you have a stronger comprehension of your roof’s anatomy, you can better identify flaws and potential problems in your roof. This can help you avoid disastrous property damages and future repair costs as well.

And it never hurts to be more fluent in roofing terminology. That extra knowledge can come in handy when you need to talk directly with contractors or builders.

The Anatomy Of Your Roof

Over our time in the industry, our roofing contractors in Lakewood have seen a diverse array of roof styles. From flat building covers to steep sloping roofs, every home has a unique kind of roof design. You can break down just about any roof to a few core elements. Any traditional roof system will include:

  1. Shingles
  2. An underlayment
  3. Decking/Sheathing
  4. A truss
  5. Fascia boards and soffits
  6. Vents
  7. Flashing
  8. Gutter systems

All of these features work in a cohesive system to protect your home from Colorado storms. Each piece of the puzzle has a specific function and unique benefits for your property.


Your shingles act as the first line of defense against the Colorado rain and wind. Shingles are typically installed in successive courses from the bottom edge of your roof all the way up to the top. The overlapping design of these tiny shapes directs water and debris down into your gutters and off your roof. There are many different types of shingles and they are most commonly made of composite materials like fibre cement or asphalt.


Your underlayment is the layer that is directly underneath your shingles. In most homes, the underlayment is a durable felt paper that is saturated by asphalt and applied in successive rolls. The underlayment provides temporary protection against the elements before the shingles are installed. It also acts as an extra weather shield in case any shingles become broken or disappear.


Those successive rolls of underlayment are all installed over the decking, also known as the wood sheathing. As the name implies, the sheathing is laid out as a continuous cover over the entire underlying roof structure. The decking is attached with nails to the wood rafters, which then creates the foundation for the final layers of your roof system. In most homes, the roof sheathing is plywood, but other materials like polystyrene and metal decking are also used widely.


From an anatomical perspective, the truss can be thought of as the skeleton of your roof. Your truss is essentially the supportive framework that holds up all the other elements of your roof. Trusses are prefabricated triangulated wooden structures and there are many different truss designs. As the roof goes up, insulation is installed between the rafters and beams to support the heating and cooling of your home.

Your truss is an incredibly strong structure, with rafters, posts, and struts all supporting the integrity of your roof. If you ask any Lakewood roofer about trusses, they’ll happily talk your ear off over the subject.

Fascia & Soffit

Your fascia and soffit boards each play integral roles for the protection of your roof’s edge. Fascia boards are installed along the perimeter of your roof in a horizontal orientation. Soffit boards bridge the gap between your home’s siding and the fascia boards themselves. While these pieces are interconnected, they serve similar, yet different purposes.

Fascia boards are put in place to prevent water and wind damages to the interior of your house and your roof. These horizontal pieces also support the functionality of your gutters and enhance your home’s appearance as well. Your soffits, on the other hand, help provide adequate ventilation for your attic. If either of these boards become dysfunctional from overflowing gutters, your roof could suffer from further damages.


Your roof acts as an insulator all throughout the year, retaining heat for your home. To keep your home at a comfortable temperature, you need to ensure adequate ventilation in your attic space. Most attics have at least a handful of vents installed at various points throughout the total square footage. These systems allow fresh air into the attic, which helps regulate the temperature of your home all year round.


The strips of metal flashing on your roof have one purpose: to prevent internal water leakages. These pieces of metal are often installed strategically on your roof joints and at other vulnerable areas (e.g., chimneys, fan vents, etc.). Roof flashing is commonly put in place during the final installation of the top layer of shingles.

Gutter Systems

You can’t talk about the anatomy of a roof without mentioning the home’s gutter systems. The first purpose of your roof is to divert water and debris into the gutters to be safely directed away from your property. If your gutters fail to function properly, they can overfill and inflict water damage on your fascia boards, soffits, and even your foundation. While you may not think of them very often, your gutters play a crucial role in the anatomy of your roof.

Strengthen Your Roof With An Experienced Lakewood Roofer

Your roof only works properly when all the pieces of its anatomy are working together. When your roof isn’t working correctly, it’s time to call in the roofing doctors of Ethos to diagnose and fix the problem. Our reputable contractors have been installing and repairing roofs in Denver and beyond for many years. We understand how to best pinpoint your roofing problems and how to best address them as well.

Contact your trusted Lakewood roofer at Ethos today to schedule your FREE roof inspection.