An explanation of different types of roofs

interesting roof garden

The roof is by far the most important thing on your house and if it didn’t exist, the house would be un-inhabitable and would soon deteriorate.

Regardless of that somewhat obvious statement, we look at the different types of roof and how you can keep them in good condition.

Roof types and their Construction

The design of the roof and preparation required to secure it to the main structure will be detailed on your construction drawings.

The roof was first considered when foundations were poured, and it was at that very early stage that the importance of wall strengths and their relation to the roof became apparent.

That initial assessment should have enabled you to arrive at the current stage of construction with a suitable and solid base on which the roof can now be placed.

Roof Types

There are a few types of roof and the one you have chosen to build is likely to reflect how you intend using the space it will provide.

Traditional roof designs offer greater flexibility because they are constructed with substantial timber beams, whilst the lightweight trussed rafter type is easier to lift into place.A birds eye view of a row of houses in england

The basic principle of the traditional roof construction is to bring load-bearing cross walls up into the roof space to support horizontal running purlins .

These are large section timbers onto which the rafters are fixed at regular intervals, to support the roof coverings.

When large spans are involved, the purlins can be replaced with lightweight steel beams, and timber is then placed on top of these, so that rafters can be fixed.

Roof shapes

Roof frames can be created in a plethora of different shapes and materials and each one will have its own set of pertinent calculations for load bearing and fixing.

A roof terrace in Alicante spain

A roof terrace in Alicante Spain

Your architect will have recommended a particular type of construction based on cost, style and function, in accordance with local planning restrictions and building regulations.

The profile of your roof may therefore already have been determined by earlier limitations or constraints forced upon you by external authorities.

What types of roof are there?

We have put together this list of the various roof types you may see in any random street.

flat roofing

Flat roof.

See image above. A flat roof is often laid over an extension or a garage and is fairly cheap and easy to install, although the typical bitumen felt is prone to leaks and may only last around 10 years. There are various cold-pour resin versions too, which are surprisingly hard wearing and durable.

Mansard roof.

This is typically identified by a box-like design of the roof, and the upstairs living space, with windows protruding form the roofs, like in this image.

postwar-housing-whitleigh-plymouth

A street of post war council houses, Whitleigh, Plymouth

A trussed rafter roof

….is the lightweight alternative, and ideal if the ceiling void is only going to be used for minor storage.

American roof with shingles instead of slates or tiles

This type of construction relies on an array of small bracing timbers, rather than large single beams.

The amount of timber involved virtually fills the void, making it fairly useless, but the frames can be lifted into position easily.

Once seated on top of the walls, the frames are connected using galvanized metal plates, and diagonally braced according to the manufacturer’s instructions

Gambrel roof.

This is similar to a Mansard Roof but differs in so far as the gambrel has vertical gable ends and the roof hangs over the façade of the home, creating large over hanging eaves, and it is common to see them in Holland.

Alpine roof.

The sharp pitch of the alpine style of roof is from the Swiss alps, obviously, because the weight of snow is very heavy, but if the roof is at a sharp angle, snow would never settle and damage the roof.

The style is often interpreted into contemporary design, like this house in Essex we painted and rendered last year.

Gable end of newly painted essex chalet house

Alpine style roof on a modern essex house

Cross gabled roof

This type of roof is often seen on larger houses, or on homes that may have had several extensions.

Ornate roof windows

Ornate roof windows

If the house has been sympathetically extended, and is of a good proportion, the effect can be quite dramatic.

Whatever type of roof your home has, it must be kept in good order. Defects such as slipping tiles, or even missing slates, loose lead flashing and so on, can cause untold damage to the rest of the your house including damp, rotten roof joists and leaks.

Although we are not a roofing company, the people who go out every day pricing up rendering and wall coating work, are trained surveyors, NOT fancy salesman, and if you have any concerns or issues about your roof, we are always happy to take a look and offer free advice, after all we are here to help you and that’s why clients keep on recommending us time after time.

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