Roof

A roof is the top covering of a building, including all materials and constructions necessary to support it on the walls of the building or on uprights; it provides protection against rain, snow, sunlight, extremes of temperature, and wind. A roof is part of the building envelope.

The material of a roof may range from banana leaves, wheaten straw or seagrass to laminated glass, copper (see: copper roofing), aluminium sheeting and pre-cast concrete. In many parts of the world ceramic tiles have been the predominant roofing material for centuries, if not millennia. Other roofing materials include asphalt, coal tar pitch, EPDM rubber, Hypalon, polyurethane foam, PVC, slate, Teflon fabric, TPO, and wood shakes and shingles.

Some types of roofing, for example thatch, require a steep pitch in order to be waterproof and durable. Other types of roofing, for example pantiles, are unstable on a steeply pitched roof but provide excellent weather protection at a relatively low angle. In regions where there is little rain, an almost flat roof with a slight run-off provides adequate protection against an occasional downpour. Drainpipes also remove the need for a sloping roof.

The basic shapes of roofs are flat, mono-pitched, gabled, hipped, butterfly, arched and domed. There are many variations on these types. Roofs constructed of flat sections that are sloped are referred to as pitched roofs (generally if the angle exceeds 10 degrees). Pitched roofs, including gabled, hipped and skillion roofs, make up the greatest number of domestic roofs. Some roofs follow organic shapes, either by architectural design or because a flexible material such as thatch has been used in the construction.

Stone lintels have been used to support roofs since prehistoric times, but cannot bridge large distances. The stone arch came into extensive use in the ancient Roman period and in variant forms could be used to span spaces up to 140 feet (43 m) across. The stone arch or vault, with or without ribs, dominated the roof structures of major architectural works for about 2,000 years, only giving way to iron beams with the Industrial Revolution and the designing of such buildings as Paxton's Crystal Palace, completed 1851.

The 20th century saw the manufacture of composition asphalt shingles which can last from a thin 20-year shingle to the thickest which are limited lifetime shingles, the cost depending on the thickness and durability of the shingle. When a layer of shingles wears out, they are usually stripped, along with the underlay and roofing nails, allowing a new layer to be installed. An alternative method is to install another layer directly over the worn layer. While this method is faster, it does not allow the roof sheathing to be inspected and water damage, often associated with worn shingles, to be repaired. Having multiple layers of old shingles under a new layer causes roofing nails to be located further from the sheathing, weakening their hold. The greatest concern with this method is that the weight of the extra material could exceed the dead load capacity of the roof structure and cause collapse. Because of this, jurisdictions which use the International Building Code prohibit the installation of new roofing on top of an existing roof that has two or more applications of any type of roof covering; the existing roofing material must be removed before installing a new roof.

Forms of insulation are felt or plastic sheeting, sometimes with a reflective surface, installed directly below the tiles or other material; synthetic foam batting laid above the ceiling and recycled paper products and other such materials that can be inserted or sprayed into roof cavities. So called Cool roofs are becoming increasingly popular, and in some cases are mandated by local codes. Cool roofs are defined as roofs with both high reflectivity and high thermal emittance.

Similar problems, although on a very much larger scale, confront the builders of modern commercial properties which often have flat roofs. Because of the very large nature of such roofs, it is essential that the outer skin be of a highly impermeable material. Most industrial and commercial structures have conventional roofs of low pitch.

 

 


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