What Is The Ridge Of A Roof? Breakdown For Homeowners

by | Jan 20, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

Did you ever take an anatomy class in school? We’re going to wager to guess that you probably didn’t learn about the anatomy of a roof.

You’re definitely familiar with the shingles on the roof, but what about the special layer of shingles called the roof ridge or ridge cap?

Let’s take a closer look at this lesser-known component of your roof system.


Simply put, the roof ridge is the horizontal line that runs the length of the roof where the two planes meet on the top. It’s the pointed intersection at the highest point of the roof, and it sometimes gets referred to as the peak. Roof ridges only exist on pitched roofs, not flat roofs.

The ridge cap is the layer of shingles that gets installed on the top of the ridge. These shingles overlap the materials on either side of the ridge.


close up of a roof ridge vent

Your attic ventilation system is incredibly important, and almost all of the necessary vents should be installed on your roof. Without the proper attic ventilation, you can run into issues such as:

  • Ice dams
  • Mold growth
  • Increased energy bills
  • Unpleasant temperatures inside your home

Ridge vents are very popular and are installed on just about every sloped roof. They run the entire length of your roof ridge but aren’t visible from the ground.

There are two types of ridge vents: active and passive. The type installed on your roof depends on the rest of your attic ventilation system.

  • Active ridge vents have a baffle (a chute that provides a channel for airflow in the attic). These vents pull fresh air from outside and push the air through the attic. The system works to ensure air is constantly moving, whether or not there’s wind.
  • Passive ridge vents don’t have a baffle. Passive ventilation works by letting the air in the attic move around through natural sources like wind.

Both vents will get the job done, but passive vents without a baffle can allow debris, pests, and rain to enter your attic. Because of this, most homeowners opt for an active ventilation system.

When getting a new roof, a professional roofing contractor will follow these steps to install a ridge vent:

  • Cut an air slot in the roof’s peak
  • Install the ridge vent over the air slot
  • Install ridge cap shingles over the vent

Keep in mind that for every 300 square feet of ceiling space in your home, you’ll need at least one square foot of attic ventilation. Ridge vents are intake vents, so they pull air into the attic. Then, the air must be pushed back out of the attic through exhaust vents.


roof ridge cap

As we mentioned, the ridge cap is the layer of shingles that goes over the roof ridge. But why does this part need special shingles?

Ridge cap shingles are a vital component for shedding water down to your gutters and out through your downspouts. Ridge cap shingles are specially made to be thicker than normal shingles and pre-bent so that they can form nicely to the ridge.

Properly installing a ridge cap with the correct materials helps prevent roof leaks. Using “regular” shingles as the ridge cap can quickly lead to issues.

If you’re getting a new roof replacement, you can ask the roofing contractor if they plan to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the ridge cap. Reputable, professional roofing companies will always do so, but local handymen from down the street may look to cut costs wherever possible.


While it’s highly recommended that homeowners get to know the different parts of their roofing system, it can be a little confusing if you’re not a trained professional. We hope this article helped you learn more about the ridge of your roof and the necessary ventilation.

Whether you need a new asphalt shingle roof or want to add more attic ventilation to make your home more energy efficient, reach out to the knowledgeable team at Mars Restoration! Our team pays close attention to detail throughout every step of the roofing process. With 30 years of experience, you can feel confident leaving your roof in our hands.

Reach out to Mars today for a free consultation!