Anatomy of a Roof

Your rain gutters and roof work together to protect your home when it rains. But your home is protected only if the gutters and roof are maintained properly. When conducting an annual visual inspection of your roof, it might be helpful to know that it’s actually a system made up of five distinct components.


The most visual component of a roof is its covering. The shingles or tiles protect the sheathing from the elements. Underlayment between the shingles and the sheathing acts as a secondary water barrier.


Sheathing refers to the boards or types of sheet material such as plywood that are fastened to roof rafters.



Rafters and trusses are designed and built to support the sheathing.


Flashing, often a piece of sheet metal, is placed over a roof’s joints to prevent water seepage. It is typically placed around chimneys, fan vents, plumbing vents and other structures that project out from the surface of the roof.


While gutters specifically drain water away from the home’s foundation, the roof is intended to shed water from its surface. Even a roof that appears to be flat will include design features like shape, slope and pitch to help direct water into the rain gutters.