Roofing Breakdown: Understanding the Different Parts of Your Roof

Getting to Know Your Roof

When it comes to taking care of your roof, the first step is understanding your roof. Though your roof may appear simple from the outside, a roofing system is comprised of several different parts, all working together to keep your home protected. By understanding how your roof fits together and how the different parts work together, you can better keep your roof in good shape, spotting the signs of trouble more easily and making repairs sooner.

While most roof work will be done by a professional roofer, like ours at Lyons Roofing, we believe that when homeowners are empowered with knowledge about their roofs, they get more out of their roofing systems. In this blog post, we will take a look at the five main parts of your roof, identifying their functions.

Keep reading to learn more.

Roof Trusses & Rafters

Starting from the inside out, you have your roof trusses or rafters. The primary difference between rafters and trusses is that rafters are typically built on site (often used in custom homes with unique roof designs), while trusses generally are prefabricated. Today, roof trusses are more common than rafters, but both serve the same function: they frame your roof. Both are made of wood and provide support for the roofing above them.

Roof Decking

Your roof decking is one of the most important parts of your roof. Sometimes referred to as sheathing, the roof deck is the boards that sit on top of your trusses or rafters, filling in the gaps and creating a platform on which your underlayment and shingles will sit. Roof decking needs to be in good condition and correctly installed. If roof decking is in bad shape (rotting, sagging, or otherwise damaged) or made of substandard materials, it can compromise the integrity of your entire roof.

Roof decking is typically made of plywood, but older homes may feature lumber decking. If your home is older and features lumber boards as decking, it is worth considering replacing it or overlaying it with plywood, as plywood creates a smoother, more consistent surface on which to apply your shingles.


Your roofing underlayment is installed between your roof deck and your shingles. The underlayment is usually waterproof or water-resistant and provides an added layer of protection for your roof. It also helps provide a smooth, even surface on which to apply your shingles. Underlayment can be made of various materials, such as felt, synthetic, and rubberized asphalt.

Underlayment help protect your roof from:

  • Moisture
  • Ice and snow
  • Rain
  • Wind
  • Fire
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Leaks

With so many different types of underlayment to choose from, you should rely on the guidance of our roofing team in selecting the right material for your needs.

Shingles & Tiles

Your shingles or tiles are the part of your roof you are likely most familiar with. The shingles and tiles are what you see and have the most visual impact. They serve two purposes: to protect your home from the elements and to complement your home's aesthetics. Shingles and tiles come in various materials and colors, and each type of roofing material has its own pros and cons.

Common roofing materials include:

  • Asphalt shingles
  • Cedar shingles and shakes
  • Clay tiles
  • Slate tiles
  • Architectural shingles

The most common type of roofing in Arizona is asphalt roofing. In fact, this is the most popular type of roofing across the entire U.S.! Not only are asphalt roofs long-lasting and durable, but they are also very affordable. Another popular roofing material in Arizona is clay tile. This roofing is very popular because it stands up well to high temperatures and is extremely durable. However, clay tile roofing can be expensive, especially if you have a larger home.


Flashing is an incredibly important part of your roof as it works to redirect water and moisture away from vulnerable areas of your roof. For example, flashing is typically installed around chimneys, skylights, and other roof installations. It is also installed in roof valleys (where different sections of the roof meet). Without flashing, your roof is susceptible to leaks and water damage. Flashing can be made from several different materials, including aluminum, copper, and steel.

During roof repairs and replacements, your roofing contractor should inspect your flashing to determine if it needs to be replaced. If it is in good shape, it may not need replacement. However, if the flashing is damaged, rusting, or showing other signs of wear and tear, it may be in your best interest to replace it.

Signs of Roof Trouble

Now that you know the main parts of your roof, you can begin to perform visual roof inspections with greater intention. Each month (or after a major weather event), you should go outside and take a look at your roof. Look for each of these parts (you will need to access your attic or crawlspace to inspect your trusses and roof deck), and see if you can see any visible signs of damage or wear.

Common signs that your roof needs help include:

  • Rusted, bent, or missing flashing
  • Missing or broken shingles
  • Plant life or moss growing on your shingles
  • Sagging roofing or water pooling on your roof
  • Visible underlayment or missing underlayment
  • Water staining or signs of a leak inside your attic or on your ceiling

If you see any signs of damage on your roof, reach out to Lyons Roofing. Our roof repair experts are always here to help, no matter what type of roofing trouble you're experiencing.