Commercial Roofing Terminology*

Absorption

The act or process of retaining foreign particles such as gas or liquid without transmission of these particles.

Acrylic Coating

A coating system with an acrylic resin base.

Acrylic Resin

Polymers of acrylic or methacrylic monomers often used as a latex base for coating systems.

Aggregate

A surfacing or ballast for a roof system. Aggregate can be rock, stone, crushed stone or slag, water-worn gravel, crushed lava rock or marble chips.

Air Blown Asphalt

Asphalt produced by blowing air through molten asphalt held at an elevated temperature. This procedure is used to modify properties of the asphalt.

Alligatoring

The cracking of the surfacing bitumen on a built-up roof, producing a pattern of cracks that resemble an alligator’s hide.

Aluminized Steel

Sheet steel with a thin aluminum coating on the surface to enhance the steel’s ability to withstand weathering.

Aluminum

A non-rusting metal used in roofing for metal roofing and the fabrication of gutter and flashing.

Application Rate

The rate at which a material is applied per unit area.

Apron Flashing

A flashing located at the low end of a curb or penetration.

Asphalt

A substance left as a residue after evaporating or otherwise processing crude oil or petroleum. Asphalt can be refined to conform to various roofing grade specifications:

  • Dead-Level Asphalt: A roofing asphalt conforming to the requirements of ASTM Specification D 312, Type I. This asphalt is for use in roofs which do not exceed a 1/4 in 12 slope (2%).
  • Flat Asphalt: A roofing asphalt conforming to the requirements of ASTM Specification D 312, Type II. This asphalt is for use in roofs which do not exceed a 1/2 in 12 slope (4%).
  • Steep Asphalt: A roofing asphalt conforming to the requirements of ASTM Specification D 312, Type III. This asphalt is for use in roofs which do not exceed a 3 in 12 slope (25%).
  • Special Steep Asphalt: A roofing asphalt conforming to the requirements of ASTM Specification D 312, Type IV. This asphalt is for use in roofs which do not exceed a 6 in 12 slope (50%).

Back-Nailing

The method of fastening the back or upper side of a ply of roofing felt or other component in a roof system so that the fasteners are covered by the ply.

Base Sheet

An asphalt-impregnated, or coated felt used as the first ply in some built-up and modified bitumen roof systems.

Bitumen

Any of various flammable mixtures of hydrocarbons and other substances, occurring naturally or obtained by distillation from coal or petroleum, that are a component of asphalt and tar and are used for surfacing roads and for waterproofing.

Bitumen-Stop

A continuous seal for preventing bitumen from leaking down into or off a building. Is constructed by extending the base sheet or other non-porous ply of felt beyond the edge of the field plies. It is then turned back onto the top of the system and adhered. See also Envelope.

Bituminous Emulsion

Bituminous particles suspended in water or other solution. See also Asphalt Emulsion.

Brooming

Embedding a ply of roofing material into hot bitumen or adhesive by using a broom, squeegee, or other piece of equipment to eliminate voids and help ensure adhesion.

Built-Up Roof Membrane

A roof membrane consisting of layers of bitumen, which serves as the waterproofing component, with plies of reinforcement fabric installed between each layer. The reinforcement material can consist of bitumen-saturated felt, coated felt, polyester felt or other fabrics. A surfacing is generally applied and can be asphalt, aggregate, emulsion or a granule surfaced cap sheet.

Butyl

A hydrocarbon radical, C4H9. Butyl has a rubber-like consistency, is formed from the copolymerization of isobutylene and isoprene and is used primarily in sealants and adhesives.

Butyl Rubber

A butyl-based, synthetic elastomer.

Butyl Tape

A sealant tape used in numerous sealant applications such as sealing sheet metal joints.

Cavitation

The vaporization of a liquid under the suction force of a pump which can create voids within the pump supply line. Cavitation will result in off-ratio foam in Sprayed Polyurethane Foam applications.

Cellulose

A complex carbohydrate, (C6H10O5)n, that is composed of glucose units, forms the main constituent of the cell wall in most plants, and is used in the manufacturing of organic roofing materials.

Chlorinated Polyethylene1 (CPE)

CPE is a flexible material with high tear strength, good chemical resistance and patency towards UV radiation. As a result of the high chlorine content (typically 30%) it is inherently difficult to ignite, but releases hydrogen chloride during combustion. It suffers from an extremely high permeability to gas. Resistance to most inorganic chemicals is generally good, while resistance to hydrocarbons increases with increasing chorine content. The material is used mainly as an impact modifier for PVC and, to a lesser extent, LDPE and HDPE film.

Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene (NRCA Definition)

A synthetic, rubber-like thermoset material, based on high molecular weight polyethylene with suphonyl chloride, usually formulated to produce a self-vulcanizing membrane. Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene or CSPE. Best know as Hypalon™, it was developed in 1951 by DuPont.

Chopped Glass and Emulsion (CG&E)

A roof coating that consists of asphalt or clay emulsion and glass fiber reinforcement. The glass fiber comes in rope form and is mechanically chopped into small pieces and then mixed with the emulsion at the end of the spray gun so that the mixture is complete by the time the surfacing hits the top of the roof. Standard mixture is 9 gallons of emulsion and 3 pounds of glass fiber for every 100 square feet (36.5 Liters of emulsion and 1.5 kg of chopped glass for every 10 square meters). The CG&E coating is then usually surfaced with a fibered aluminum roof coating at rate of 1.5 gallons per 100 square feet (6 Liters per 10 square meters).

Coal Tar Bitumen

A proprietary trade name for Type III coal tar used in dead-level or low-slope built-up roofs. It is not for use in roofs exceeding 1/4" in 12" (2%) slope.

Coal Tar Pitch

A type of coal tar used in dead-level or low-slope built-up roofs. It is not for use in roofs exceeding 1/4" in 12" (2%) slope.

Coal Tar Felt

A roofing membrane saturated with refined coal tar.

Coal Tar Roof Cement

A trowelable mixture of processed coal tar base, solvents, mineral fillers and/or fibers.

Coated Base Sheet

An asphalt-saturated base sheet membrane later coated with harder, more viscous asphalt, thereby increasing its impermeability to moisture.

Cold Process Built-Up Roof

A roof consisting of multiple plies of roof felts laminated together with adhesives that usually come right out of a can or barrel and require no heating.

Combing Ridge

A term used to describe an installation of finishing slate at the ridge of a roof whereby the slates on one side project beyond to the apex of the ridge.

Composition Shingle

A type of shingle used in steep-slope roofing and generally comprised of weathering-grade asphalt, a fiber glass reinforcing mat, an adhesive strip, and mineral granules.

Compounded Thermoplastics1 (NRCA Definition)

A category of roofing membranes made by blending thermoplastic resins with plasticizers, various modifiers, stabilizers, flame retardants, UV absorbers, fungicides, and other proprietary substances, alloyed with proprietary organic polymers. Some of the membranes listed in this generic category are CPA, EIP, NBP, and TPA.

Creep

Movement of roof membrane causing the roof system to be deformed.

Curb

(1) A raised member used to support skylights, HVAC units, exhaust fans, hatches or other pieces of mechanical equipment above the level of the roof surface, should be a minimum of eight inches (8") in height; (2) A raised roof perimeter that is relatively low in height.

Dampproofing

Treatment of a surface or structure to resist the passage of water in the absence of hydrostatic pressure.

Dimensional Shingle

A shingle that is textured, or laminated to produce a three-dimensional effect. Also known as Laminated and Architectural Shingles. Please be aware that there are also shingles being produced that can be classified as Dimensional but not as Laminated. These shingles are comprised of a single piece of material rather than two different materials laminated together.

Double Graveling

Installing one layer of gravel in a flood coat of hot bitumen, removing the excess gravel and then installing a second layer of gravel in another flood coat of hot bitumen.

Dry Film Thickness

The thickness in mils (thousandths of an inch), of a dried coating or mastic.

Dry Rot

Wood rot caused by certain fungi. Dry rot can result from condensation build-up, roof leaks that go untended, or from other problems. Dry rot will not remain localized. It can spread and damage any lumber touching the affected area.

Edge Stripping

Roofing material used to seal perimeter edge metal and the roof itself.

Edge Venting

The installation of vent material along a roof edge (e.g., Starter Vent) as part of a ventilation system. Edge vent material should be used in conjunction with other venting material (e.g., ridge vent) as it not intended for use by itself.

Elastomer

A material which, after being stretched, will return to its original shape.

Elastomeric

Properties of a material that will permit it to return to its original shape after being stretched.

Elastomeric Coating

A coating that can be stretched to twice its dimensions and that will return to original when tension is released.

Embedment

In roofing, to uniformly press one material into another, such as aggregate into bitumen, roofing felt into bitumen, or granules into a coating.

Envelope

A continuous seal for preventing bitumen from leaking down into or off a building. Is constructed by extending the base sheet or other non-porous ply of felt beyond the edge of the field plies. It is then turned back onto the top of the system and adhered.

EPDM

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. “Rubber Roof” Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM): A thermoset with high tear strength that can be
cross-linked by both peroxides and sulfur.

Epichlorohydrin (ECH)

A synthetic rubber material similar to EPDM with a stronger resistance to animal fats and oils than EPDM.

Epoxy

A type of synthetic, thermosetting resins that produce tough, hard, chemical-resistant coatings and adhesives.

Equiviscious Temperature (EVT)

The temperature at which a bitumen attains the proper viscosity for use in built-up roofing. There is usually a twenty-five degree Fahrenheit (25° F) variance permitted above and below the recommended EVT. The EVT is measured in application equipment just prior to application using a standard thermometer or it can be measured just after application using a laser thermometer.

Exposure

The portion of the membrane that is not overlapped by the succeeding ply or course. Or, the portion of the roofing material exposed to the weather after being installed.

Felt

A roofing sheet made of interwoven fibers. The fibers can be wood or vegetable for Organic Felts, glass fibers for fiberglass felts, polyester, or asbestos.

Film

A membrane or sheeting material with a nominal thickness of 10 mils or less.

Film Thickness

The thickness of a membrane or coating that is expressed in mils (thousandths of an inch). See also Wet Film Thickness and Dry Film Thickness.

Galvalume

Trade name for a protective coating composed of aluminum zinc.

Galvanized Steel

Steel that is coated with zinc to aid in corrosion resistance. Galvanized steel for use in roofing should be Hot-Dipped Galvanized with a G-90 coating.

Glass Felt

(1) In the manufacturing of roofing materials - a sheet comprised of bonded glass fibers prior to being saturated with bitumen; (2) short for asphalt or coal tar saturated fiberglass felt membrane.

Glaze Coat

(1) The uppermost layer of asphalt on a smooth-surfaced built-up roof membrane, usually a reflective surfacing is installed over it; (2) A thin coat of bitumen applied to help protect the roof membrane when application of additional felts or the flood coat and aggregate surfacing are delayed.

Ice Dam

Ice formed at the transition from a warm surface to a cold surface, such as along the overhang of a house. The build-up of ice is the result of ice or snow melting on the roof area over the warmer, living area of a building and then refreezing when it runs down and reaches the overhang.

Impregnate

To saturate; in roofing, asphalt impregnated fiber glass roofing felts are fiber glass mats that have been completely permeated with asphalt bitumen.

Interlayment

A waterproof material usually installed between adjacent rows of wood shakes to help with the roof’s waterproofing characteristics.

Laitance

An accumulation of fine, powdery aggregate particles on fresh cement caused by the upward movement of water; indicates that too much water was used in the mix resulting in poor surface adhesion for a waterproofing layer.

Loose-Laid Roof Membranes

Roofing material attached only at the perimeter and at penetrations and held in place by ballast, pavers, or other materials.

Membrane

The portion of the roofing system that serves as the waterproofing material. Can be composed of one material or several materials laminated together.

Mildew

A superficial coating or discoloration of organic materials caused by fungi, especially under damp conditions.

Modified Bitumen

A bitumen modified by one or more polymers such as Atactic Polypropylene (APP), styrene butadiene styrene (SBS).

Moisture Relief Vent

A vent installed through the roofing membrane to relieve moisture vapor pressure that has been trapped within the roofing system.

Nailing Pattern

Refers to a specific method or pattern at which nails are applied. For instance, a nailing pattern for base sheets on plywood roof decks can be “Nine and Eighteen.” This means one row of nails on the outside edge of the sheet set at nine inches (9") on center, and two rows in the center of the sheet, each set at eighteen inches (18") on center.

Neoprene

A synthetic rubber produced by polymerization of Chloroprene for use in liquid-applied and sheet-applied elastomeric roofing.

Non-Vulcanized Material

A material that retains its thermoplastic properties throughout its service life.

Plenum

A space or enclosure in which air or other gas is at a pressure greater than that of the outside atmosphere.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

A thermoplastic polymer that can be compounded into flexible and rigid forms through the use of plasticizers, stabilizers, fillers, and other modifiers; rigid forms are used in pipes; flexible forms are used in the manufacture of sheeting and roof membrane materials.

Pourable Sealer

A type of sealant that is initially in liquid form commonly used in conjunction with pitch pans to form a water-tight barrier around penetrations that are difficult to flash.

Protected Membrane Roof (PMR)

A roof assembly in which the insulation and ballast are placed on top of the membrane component. Commonly referred to as an “inverted roof assembly.”

Purlin

Horizontal secondary structural member used to transfer loads from the primary structural
members.

R-Value

The measure of a material’s resistance to heat flow. The higher a material’s R-value, the more it insulates.

Reinforced Membrane

A roofing membrane that has been strengthened by adding polyester scrims or mats, glass fibers or other material.

Resin

The “B” component in SPF that is mixed with the “A” component in order to form polyurethane. Resin contains a catalyst, fire retardants, a blowing agent, Polyol, and a surface active agent.

Roof Covering

The outermost reinforced layer of the roof assembly. In BUR it’s the multiple-ply membrane, in Thermoplastic roof systems it’s the thermoplastic sheet, etc.

Roof Slope

The angle made by the roof surface plane with the horizontal plane and expressed as the amount of vertical rise for every twelve inch (12") horizontal run. For instance, a roof that rises four inches (4") for every twelve inch (12") horizontal run, is expressed as having a "four in twelve" slope; often written as "4:12." Expressed as a percentage, the slope would be 33%, which is equal to 4 divided by 12. Also known as the Pitch of a roof.

Rosin

Non-asphaltic material used as slip sheets and sheathing paper in roof systems. Also referred to Rosin Paper and Rosin-Sized Sheathing Paper.

Rust Blush

Early stage of rust indicated by an orange or reddish color.

Sag

Settling or drooping of base flashings that have not been properly secured to a surface.

Saturated Felt

Felt that has been saturated with bitumen.

Self-Adhering Membrane

A type of membrane whose bottom surface will stick or adhere to a substrate without the use of an additional adhesive material.

Self-Vulcanizing Membrane

Membrane that is initially thermoplastic in nature but that cures after installation.

Single-Lock Standing Seam

A standing seam system with one overlapping interlock between two seam panels.

Single-Ply Membranes

Roofing membranes that are applied in one layer. Thermoplastic and thermoset membranes are usually Single-Ply Membranes. Single-Ply membranes come in five basic types: (1) Ballasted, (2) Fully-Adhered, (3) Mechanically-Fastened, (4) Partially-Adhered, and (5) Self-Adhered. Seams of Single-Ply Membranes can be heat welded, solvent welded, and adhered using seam tape or other adhesives.

Single-Ply Roofing

Roofing systems where the principal component consists of a single-ply membrane.

Slag

Residue from blast furnaces that is sometimes used for the surfacing on aggregate-surfaced built-up roof systems.

Smooth Surfaced Roof

A roof with no surfacing or with a smooth surfacing such as emulsion and/or a reflective coating.

Solid Mopping

To continuously apply hot asphalt or coal tar leaving no areas without bitumen.

Splash Guard

A fabricated metal pan or masonry block that is placed below a leader pipe or downspout and is used to help protect the roof membrane on a lower roof level or to prevent soil erosion when placed on the ground.

Sprayed Polyurethane Foam (SPF)

A monolithic sprayed-on roofing material with a high Rvalue; formed when isocyanate ("A" component) and resin (“B” component) are mixed at a 1:1 ratio.

Sprinkle Mopping

To scatter hot bitumen over a surface.

Standing Seam

A type of metal roof system where the longitudinal seams on adjacent panels are turned up, overlapped and folded in various ways in order to prevent moisture entry and interlock the panels.

Step Flashing

Pieces of metal or other material that are used to flash roof projections such as chimneys, walls, curbs, etc. The pieces are installed between each course of roofing and generally have a vertical flange equal in length to that of the horizontal flange.

Strapping

Installing roofing felts so that they run parallel with the slope. Not a recommended installation method for slopes that are 1:12 or less.

Strip Flashing

Pieces of membrane material that are used to flash metal flashing flanges such as gravel stop. Also referred to as Stripping.

Strip Mopping

Hot bitumen applied in parallel bands.

Strip Shingles

Asphalt shingles that are manufactured in strips.

Styrene

A colorless oily liquid, C6H5CH:CH2, the monomer for polystyrene.

Styrene Butadiene Styrene (SBS)

The modifying agent used in SBS modified asphalt roofing materials that gives the material a rubber like quality.

Substrate

The surface that the roof is installed upon.

Sump

A depression around roof drains and scuppers to help promote roof drainage.

Thermal Shock

The damage to a roof resulting from expansion and contraction which are the result of sudden extreme temperature changes. Thermal Shock often occurs when a cold rain shower suddenly cools a roof during a hot day.

Thermal Stress

Stress to a roof system or component caused by expansion and / or contraction from temperature change.

Thermoplastic

(1) adjective Becoming soft when heated and hard when cooled. (2)noun A thermoplastic resin, such as polystyrene or polyethylene.

Thermoset

A material that cannot be reshaped or formed by heating. EPDM and Butyl are thermosets.

TPA

Tri-Polymer Alloy.

Transverse Seam

The joint between the top of one metal roof panel and the bottom of the next panel, which runs perpendicular to the roof slope

Tuck Pointing

To remove old and deteriorated mortar from between masonry blocks and replace it with new mortar.

U-Value

The overall coefficient of heat transfer of an assembly measured in BTUs per square foot, per degrees Fahrenheit difference in temperature per hour

Underlayment

A material installed over the roof deck prior to the application of the primary roof covering. Usually consists of fifteen (15#) or thirty (30#) pound organic felt but can also be selfadhering such as an ice and water protection membrane.

Valley

The internal intersection of two sloping roof planes that runs from the eaves to the ridge. This intersection collects the most water run-off

Vapor Retarder

A material used to restrict the passage of water vapor through a roof assembly.

Vent

An opening or device used to permit air or vapors to exit an enclosed structure. Ventilation Short Circuit: The disruption of air flow in an intake-exhaust ventilation system. For instance, if vents such as turbine vents or gable vents are placed in between the intake vents and exhaust vents (such as soffit and ridge vents) then the draw created by the Stack Effect will be disrupted and the ventilation system will be much less effective

Viscosity

The resistance of a material to heat flow.

Viscous

Having a fairly high resistance to heat flow.

Vulcanize

To improve the strength, resiliency, and freedom from stickiness and odor of rubber, for example, by combining with sulfur or other additives in the presence of heat and pressure.

Waterproof

Being resistant to moisture infiltration.

Waterproofing

The treatment of a surface or structure in order to prevent the passage of water under hydrostatic pressure.

Water Trough

The area in a valley where water runs. Usually referred to with open valley configurations.

Weep Holes

Small holes used to permit moisture to drain that has gathered inside a building component.

Wind Uplift

(1) The upward displacement of a section of a roof system or component caused by movement of air from a location of higher air pressure, such as inside a building, to an area of lower air pressure, such as the surface of a roof during a windy day. Strong wind across the surface of a roof, especially at corners and along perimeters, creates low air pressure above the surface of the roof. Nature will automatically try to compensate for this by moving air from an area of higher pressure such as inside a building. If all penetrations and perimeters are not properly sealed, then "blow-off" can occur. (2) Displacement or blow-off of shingles or other roofing caused by the wind.

Wire Tie

A system for attaching heavy steep slope roofing materials such as slate or tile by using wire fasteners in addition to or in place of nails.

Woven Valley

A valley construction whereby the valley has a woven look which is effected by overlapping alternate courses of shingles from both sides of the valley.

 

For additional information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at (847) 438-9888

We are committed to quality and integrity in the roofing and construction industry.

 

*Commercial Roofing Terminology from Firestone Building Products. Visit www.firestonebpco.com to learn more about commercial roofing products.