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Roofing Terms: Hips, Dormers, Valleys, Ridge Tiles, & Repointing

Hipped roof with a dormer


There are sometimes times when you need your roof repairing or replacing, but you don't have a clue what the roofer is talking about.

Forewarned is forearmed, so this article explains in simple terms exactly what some of the terminology used in roofing actually means.

Roof hip with failed mortar


Hipped roof

This is simply a roof where the two sides meet at an angle, as showin in the picture above. The point at which the two sides meet is called a hip.

The half round tiles that fit over the hip are the hip tiles. The same tiles are used on the ridge line, which I'll get to later. Some roofs have hips, some don't.

Something to look out for is the mortar that holds the hip tiles on failing, as they can then be blown off in strong wind. You can usually start to see this from the ground if you have a keen eye, but if you haven't had it changed for a few years, it can be worth getting a roofer out to take a look to see how well your hip tiles are attached.

Ridge tiles


Ridge line

The ridge line sits on the very top of the roof. This is where the apex of the roof is.

Most ridge tiles are a round design and sit on the top of the apex and are then bedded down with mortar. There are various types and designs of ridge tile although half round is the most common. If the mortar fails on these, they can blow off the roof, it's not as likely as it is with the hips, but it can happen.

Lead roof valley


Roof valleys

Valleys are where two sides of the roof meet again. They are the opposite to a hip as they are the internal version, whereas a hip is what you find on an external corner. Valleys can be made from several different materials. Lead is usual, although fibreglass is becoming more common.

Most valleys are pointed with mortar, which like the ridge and hip line, can need renewing after a few years. There are dry hip systems now that don't need pointing, which are becoming more popular. I don't think the dry hip or ridge systems are as good as old fashioned mortar personally as I think the finish is not as good, but they're quicker to install, which is the reason they're becoming more popular with new builds.

This is a gable end with caps to finish off rather than mortar


Pointing / bedding with mortar

If the mortar on your ridge tiles, gable ends or valleys is failing then you will need to get them repointed. The thing you must make sure of is that the roofer rakes out the old mortar and replaces with new. What often happens is they simply go over the top of your old mortar. This looks great at first, is far quicker and easier to do than rebedding the tiles with fresh mortar, but will fail. After a while the new mortar will simply fall off. Make sure they're doing it right, taking all the old mortar off in the process. This is known as rebedding.

A pair of dormers


What are dormers?

Dormers are basically a part of a building that protrudes from the roof. Lots of houses have dormer windows etc, especially if they've had the lofts converted. Dormers can have flat or tiled roofs on them, if they have tiled roofs, they'll have valleys.

Well I hope this was informative! I will probably add to it if I think of anything that I've left out, but these are terms that people may not be familiar with that your roofer may use if you ever need any work doing, so it's useful to know what they're talking about.

If you have any comments, please leave them below.



Marne on April 04, 2017:

Thanks, info helped allot

Lee Jones from Shipley, Derbyshire on November 26, 2013:

Great hub and pictures. Very helpful for the home-owner

Rain Defence (author) from UK on January 18, 2013:

Thanks for your comment, I hope it helps one day.

Shea on January 17, 2013:

Great info on roof terminology.... thanks!

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