A Home Improvement Glossary

Posted on August 16, 2018 in Home Improvement

home improvement

When it comes to home improvement, there are many, many terms associated with roofing, siding, gutters, doors, and windows. Here, our home improvement experts share some of the most common terms you may hear when dealing with these elements:


Dormer: A structure (often containing a window) that projects from a sloped roof.

Drip Edge: An overhang component that covers the gap between the shingles and roofing material in order to allow water to run off.

Eave: The horizontal edge of a roof which overhangs the face of a wall.

Fascia: The vertical board or band under a roof’s edge.

Felt: A base material usually made from asphalt material used as a layer of protection for the roof deck. (Also called “tar paper”)

Flashing: Thin pieces of metal installed around joints, chimneys, vent pipes, and valleys in order to prevent water from entering the roof.

Ice & Water Shield: A form of underlayment that protects your roof from water leaks.

Penetration: Any structure that penetrates a roof. (i.e. chimney, vent, pipe, etc.)

Rafters: A series of sloped beams that create the framing that supports the roof deck.

Rake: The edge of the roof that runs from the peak of the gable-end to the eaves. (It can have an overhang or no overhang.)

Ridge: The peak where two sloped roof surfaces meet.

Sheathing: Boards or sheet materials that are fastened to the roof rafters to provide a base for shingles or another roof covering.

Slope: The angle at which a roof is measured using the vertical rise in inches per each 12 inches of horizontal run. (Also called the “pitch”)

Soffit: The area where the exterior wall meets the roofline of a house.

Square: The common unit of measurement for a roof. One square is equal to 10×10 feet (or 100 square) feet.

Truss: A horizontal structure of beams designed to support the rafters.

Underlayment: A water-resistant or waterproof barrier material that’s attached to your roof deck.

Valley: The depressed section where two sloped roof surfaces meet (opposite of a “ridge”).


Board-and-Batten: A type of siding that alternates wide pieces (boards) with narrow pieces (battens).

Buttlock: The bottom or side part of a piece of siding that locks into the piece of siding below it or next to it.

Channel: An area that allows for another piece of siding or a piece of trim to be inserted. (Channel shapes are often referenced with letters, i.e. J-channel, F-channel, etc.)

Course: A row of siding that runs the length of an exterior wall.

Drip Cap: A piece of flashing that is installed over a door or window to divert water away from it.

Flange: The area on a piece of siding (usually on the backside of the bottom) where mounting holes are located.

Furring Strips: Thin strips of wood or another material used to raise or level a surface.

Lock/Locking Leg: The parts of siding pieces that lock together to join two panels together.

Miter Joint: The area where two intersecting panels (each cut at a 45-degree angle) meet.

Plumb: A term used to describe an object that is perfectly vertical.

Starter Strip: A horizontal strip that attaches to the lowest point of the exterior and provides a beginning point for the rest of the siding panels.

Weep Holes: Small openings in the bottom edge of the siding that allow water to drain.


Downspout: A pipe that carries rainwater away from a gutter, usually installed at a vertical angle.

Drop Outlet: The section of gutter that has a hole in it in order to transfer water to the downspout.

Elbow: A piece of gutter that’s bent to help the direction of water flow.

End Cap: A fitted piece at the end of a gutter.

Fall/Slope: The angle of a stretch of gutter that is measured using the vertical rise in inches per each 12 inches of horizontal run.

Hanger: A flat strip of material that’s attached to the roof and used to hold a piece of gutter in place.

Ice Dam: When water freezes inside of a gutter (due to improper drainage) and builds up to form a dam. This dam then prevents melting snow from draining off of the roof.

Run: A term that refers to any section of gutter that runs horizontally.

Seamed: A type of gutter that refers to the fastening together of several segments in order to create a long piece of gutter.

Seamless: A type of gutter that’s fashioned from one long piece of material (as opposed to several segments).

Soaker: A small piece of gutter installed on the upper portion of a chimney.

Splash Block: A block or pad that is placed on the ground below a downspout to prevent soil erosion and help carry water away from a home.


Rough Door Opening

Cripples: A series of small beams used as support between the header and the top plate.

Header: The horizontal board that serves as the top of the door (spans between both jack studs).

Jack Studs: The studs that are attached side-by-side (on the inside) to the king studs.

King Studs: The studs on the outsides of a rough door opening.

Sole Plate: The beam at the bottom of the door frame that runs the length of the wall and to which studs are attached.

Top Plate: The beam at the top of the door frame that runs the length of the wall and to which studs are attached.


Bottom Rail: The bottom horizontal part of the door.

Casing: The trim (often wood) that surrounds the door frame.

Hinges: The jointed pieces that attach the door to the door jamb (and allow the door to open).

Jamb: The door frame that surrounds the actual door.

Panel: A flat, often square or rectangular piece set into the front and back of a door for aesthetic appeal.

Stile: The outermost vertical beams of a door.

Stop: A small strip of wood around the perimeter of the door that keeps it from swinging too far.

Sweep: A small piece of plastic or rubber attached to the bottom of the door to provide weather and draft protection.

Threshold: A piece of wood or metal at the bottom of your door that serves as the point of entry.

Top Rail: The top horizontal part of the door.


Apron: A piece of casing or trim installed at the bottom of a window below the sill.

Dividers: The pieces that divide the window pane into smaller viewing areas. (Also known as muntins or grids)

Glazing: The term that refers to the number of window panes separated by a vacuum or gas (i.e. double-glazed, triple-glazed, etc.).

Jamb: The window frame that surrounds the actual window.

Pane: The center glass piece of a window.

Rails: The top and bottom horizontal parts of a window.

Sash: The part of a window that opens (it often slides up or down vertically).

Sill: The surface at the bottom of a window.

Weatherstrip: A flexible strip of material that is installed along window joints to prevent air leaks and water penetration.

Interested in more terms or have a home improvement project that deals with your roofing, siding, gutters, doors, or windows? Give us a call today!

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