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Before You Begin Shopping for a Metal Roof, Know the Lingo

May 15, 2019

Shopping for a metal roof can be much more successful when you understand or at least recognize industry-related terms. From galvanized steel to cricket construction, you need to know a few key terms to purchase and design the right roof for your home. Working with a trustworthy roofing company can help you enjoy a stress-free metal roofing experience. Your roofer can explain important terms and break down your top roofing options. In the meantime, begin your knowledge of metal roofing systems with this glossary.


The class of your roof refers to its fire resistance. Your roofing system will be Class A, B, or C in terms of how well its materials can resist fire. The highest is Class A. Class A roofs are highly fire resistant, such as copper and zinc roofing materials. Class B can withstand moderate fire exposure. Class C can only withstand light exposure to fire.


A clip is a small piece of metal that attaches two pieces of metal together. Most metal roofing systems require clips to secure metal shingles to the decking, or to secure them to standing seam systems.


Some roofing systems require caulking to fill in gaps or joints to prevent leaks. Caulk is an excellent roof sealant that can help your system be more resistant in bad weather.


Many metal roofs contain special coatings that strengthen the natural material. Paint, powder, and anodized coatings can enable the metal roof to withstand harsher environments for longer amounts of time. Polyvinylidene (PVDF) paint finishes are popular coatings, as is stone coating. Stone coating coats the metal roof in granules like traditional shingles.

Cool Roof

A cool roof has maximum reflectivity to achieve better resistance to heat absorption. Unlike asphalt shingles, which absorb heat from the sun, metal roofs tend to reflect sunlight to keep the interior of the home cooler during hot summers. Some metal roofs contain metallic coatings to enhance reflectivity. A cool roof can also refer to a system with proper ventilation to carry heat away from the home.


Corrosion refers to the deterioration roofing materials can experience over time, due to corrosive elements such as rain, snow, or salt. Many metal roofing materials are naturally resistant to corrosion, while others (such as steel) require special coatings to prevent wear and tear. A qualified roofer will use compatible metals in your roofing system to help prevent metal roof corrosion.

Corrugated Metal

Corrugation refers to the style of the roof rather than the material itself. A corrugated metal roof is folded into ridges, rather than lying flat. Corrugated metal roofs may be made of steel, aluminum, or other materials. A corrugated roof is stronger and more durable than one that is not corrugated. The special shape adds strength to lightweight metals. Most aluminum roofs are corrugated, as this will help the light metal to withstand weathering and achieve better longevity.

Corrugated roofs were originally more popular in commercial projects, but homeowners have begun installing them for their durability and low cost. Corrugated metal roofs can withstand rust and corrosion. It provides value and high quality without the need for additional coatings. Homeowners can request painted corrugated roofing for different colors if they do not like the built-in gray finish they typically have. A corrugated metal roof can last 100 years or longer! The price will depend on the type of metal you choose.


A cricket is a construction that may exist at the back of a chimney to prevent snow or ice from accumulating there. A peaked saddle construction can deflect water and runoff around the chimney, to preserve the mortar and materials of the chimney itself.


Decking, or the deck, is the surface that goes over the framework of your home prior to installation. Decking is the structural foundation on which roofing is applied. Most new homes use plywood decking, but other options include oriented strand board and tongue and groove 2×6 boards.

Drip Edge

A drip edge is a non-corrosive material roofers often install along the eaves and rakes of your roof. A drip edge will prevent water runoff from affecting the underlying construction by directing it elsewhere.


The eaves of your roofing system are its lower, horizontal edges. They typically jut out beyond the side of your home. Installing a drip edge on the eaves can prevent water from dripping down your walls.


Flashing is the trim roofers use to prevent water from seeping into your home’s underlying wood and insulation. Flashing goes where there are intersections in your roofing system, such as chimneys and vent pipes, to prevent water from infiltrating these weak spots. Flashing may require flashing cement to further seal vulnerable areas.


The gable of your roof is the upper part of the sidewall, where it comes to a point at the ridge of the roof. Trim around this part of the roof is the gable trim. A gable roof has sloping planes on either side of the ride, with a gable at each end.

Galvanized Metal

A galvanized metal roof has been treated with a coating of zinc. Galvanized metal is usually hot-dipped into zinc or a mixture of zinc and aluminum, which combines the elements of all metals. This prevents the coating from peeling or chipping. Galvanizing certain metal can help them last longer and age without corrosion or rust.


The pitch of your roof refers to its steepness. If a roof is 4/12 pitch, for example, it rises four inches vertically for every 12 inches horizontally. The pitch of your roof will help determine the type of metal roof that is appropriate.


Your roof’s valley is the intersection of two roof planes. The valley should provide a route for water runoff to safely escape your roof without damaging its structure.


A vent on your roof is any outlet where air can escape from the roofing system. Ventilation is key to a properly functioning metal roofing system.

Understanding these common metal roofing terms and phrases will help you have clearer communication with your contractor. You can ultimately make the best investment in your home’s roof with better knowledge of the industry and roofing process.

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