All about Roofs & Roof Trusses

What is a roof?

Yeah, I get that you know what a roof most likely is, but do you really know all the terminology and different sorts that are around? After all, a roof is a very large design aspect of any house.

And lets face it, some roofs are amazing while others can be a real eye sore.

So especially if you’re building your home from scratch, it’s really important to understand how different roofing styles can impact the overall design of your home‘s exterior.

A roof is a structure found on the upper of buildings. It’s shape can vary, from a steep V shaped gable, to flat, to semi-spherical to abstract.

The most common roofs found worldwide, however, are gabled, as they are the cheapest to build and most effective at repelling rain.

Roofs are one of the most important constructions know to human beings. They protect us (and our possessions) from wind, rain, snow and hail, and keep heat in our houses when it’s cold outside.

They have been used and built for millenia by humans (and indeed some animals) all over the world.

Roofs often have three layers: the innermost layer is the frame, commonly constructed from wood or metal. This provides support for the surface of the roof.

Next is an insulation layer, commonly of waterproof material, to act as a seal between the inner and outer layers of a roof (although some older building may not have this layer).

Finally, the outer layer is the layer to which the elements are exposed, common materials for this include slate, tiles, sheet metal (commonly lead, corrugated iron or copper) or, in older buildings, thatch.

Styles of roofs

Roofs can be found worldwide in many different styles, some of which are listed here…

Gabled Roofs:

The classic upside-down V shaped roof, found on many buildings worldwide. In more complicated forms, gabled roofs can have more gables protruding out of the main gable, commonly with a window on them. The Dutch gable is also a famous piece of architecture, where a protruding gable has an ornate shape around it.

A crow-stepped gable features the “stairs” up the side of each gable found commonly in northern Europe. Gabled roofs are cheap and easy to build, structurally reliable, and are great for shedding rain and weather.

Gabled roofs also use the simplest roof trusses.

Outshot and Lean-to Roofs:

A lean to roof is the roof of an “extension” style roof sloping down from the main building on to a protruding sub room. If the roof slopes directly from the roof of a main building onto the lean-to roof, it can be described as having a “catslide”.

Hip Roofs:

Hip roofs are commonly found on bungalows or other small structures, and are extremely common in America as part of the classic “4-square” style.

They are similar to simple gabled roofs except that the two would-be vertical sides of the building are tilted inwards.

On square buildings, they are tilted inwards so far that the roofs represents a four-sided pyramid, sometimes referred to as a pyramidal roof.

Hip roofs have great advantage over gabled roofs as they require much less bracing against the wind, they are in fact self bracing.

The fact that they are far more streamlined only enhances this effect. A downside of a hip roof is the restricted attic space.

Mansard Roofs:

Of French origin, a Mansard roof has two gradients on it: an initial shallow gradient, and then an immediate change to a steeper gradient towards the end of the roof.

However, a Mansard roof may sometimes have a flat top as the first gradient, then a steep gradient around the edges, resulting in an upside-down tray shape to the roof.

The mansard style was popularized in France in the 1600s, and then gained extreme popularity in America, with many iconic houses and buildings boasting a mansard roof.

These sorts of roofs are perfect for a roof restoration as they are expensive to build and are not often found in newer homes.

Gambrel Roofs:

As a gabled roof, but with the two longest sides in a mansard style.

Flat Roofs:

The distinctive flat roofs found in warmer, dryer areas of the world, where the need to shed rain is at a minimum. Classic flat Roofed cities include Jerusalem.

Flat roofed homes can, however, become extremely hot in sunny weather, some methods to induce cooling of the house include covering with thin sheets of asbestos, and pouring water over the roof.

Special sun-reflective paints are also available, roofs coated with such are known as ‘cool roofs’.

Roof Truss Design

The shape of the roof is most houses all depends on the shape and style of the Roof Truss Design. A roof truss provides support and stability to the roof and evenly distributes the weight of the roof away from the exterior walls.

A Roof Truss is generally made of wood for residential use and steel in commercial use. They are generally triangular in shape because this provides the best stability and support. There is no other shape that can withstand the same amount of tension or compression load.

If you are building your home from scratch and are in the process of deciding what style of roof to have, you should take careful consideration in your decision.

A Roof Truss should definitely not be chosen on looks alone as there are more important factors that need to be considered such as; the stresses that the building may encounter, the size of the open plan and weather conditions.

The majority of home builders order roof trusses from Roof Truss Manufacturers because is very labor intensive, so it is generally a lot cheaper and more time consuming to order prefabricated roof trusses.

Sometimes the roof truss may have to be built on site if delivery is a problem or the design is a specific type or size that is not readily available.

Creating a Roof Truss Design

The start of a Roof Truss Design starts with a sketch which in normally done by an architect. The sketch of the ceiling is drafted first then the roof truss is drawn in showing how the truss will support the walls and roof of the structure that is to be supported.

Feature Roof Trusses

Feature trusses also referred to as Oak Trusses or Bolted Trusses can add a beautiful feature to any room. They are generally hand crafted and add an outstanding centerpiece to new or existing homes.

They are extremely aesthetically pleasing and can create open and spacious feeling to any room and they can be designed to suit architectural character of the property.

So there you have it, a quick introduction to the different style roofs.

So which one is your favorite?

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The Best Roofing Material For Every Budget

There are many choices in roofing materials used on homes today. Deciding on the roof that is right for you will depend on a number of factors, including the type of roof you currently have, location of your home, climate zone, desired architectural look, maintenance, and cost.

20 Questions To Ask A Roofing Contractor

Before you get started on any new roof or repairs it is prudent to interview several roofing contractors and collect estimates. Experience counts. It’s best to work with experienced, reliable, honest professionals. Ask the following:

  1. How long have you been a licensed roofing contractor and what’s your state license number? Verify this before considering any roofing contractor’s services.
  2. How long has the company has been doing business under their current name?
  3. Are they bonded?
  4. Has the company declared bankruptcy within the past five years?
  5. Will they provide business references from within the past year?
  6. What terms of payment are anticipated?
  7. How many employees will be assigned to your roofing project?
  8. Will the foreman be on site? Are the employees working on this project employees of the roofing contractor?
  9. What type of roofing system does the roofing contractor recommend? Will it require a complete roof tear-off?
  10. What details can you provide regarding the roofing materials?
  11. Is the warranty guaranteed?
  12. What type of ventilation system does the proposed roofing system have?
  13. What is the best system for this area’s climate?
  14. Is the new proposed roofing system Energy Star Compliant, with an initial reflectance of at least 65%?
  15. Does the proposed roofing system meet the ASHRAE 90.1 standard for Federal Tax deduction eligibility?
  16. What sort of maintenance will be necessary with the new roof?
  17. Are there prevalent problems that occur with this type of roof?
  18. How will the contractor handle any problems over the life of the roof?
  19. What is the life expectancy of the proposed roof?
  20. What benefits does this roofing system provide?

A new roof installation is a major investment. Move forward only when you are satisfied with the answers to the above questions. Or if youre still unsure, take a look at this company https://legacyusa.com/areas/ as an example of what I am talking about.

Wood Roofs: Shakes and Shingles

  • Cedar shakes provide a traditional look with reliable, modern durability. They are a good choice for historic homes or homes in new developments with high appearance standards. Cedar shakes are an environmentally friendly option also.
  • The life expectancy of cedar shakes is up to 30 years, if quality materials are used.
  • A potential concern with cedar shakes is that many communities will require pressure-treated, fire retardant shakes, which lowers the fire hazard but increases the cost of the materials.
  • Composition shingles are widely used on homes in the United States. These are made of an organic or fiberglass base, then saturated with asphalt and coated with minerals on one side to resist weathering.
  • Fiberglass shingles are more flexible and stronger than organic shingles. Both shingles come in a wide variety of colors.
  • The life expectancy of composition shingles ranges from 20 to 30 years. Most manufacturers will cover a composition roof under warranty, if a certified roofer installed it.
  • Dimensional shingles are very similar to composition shingles, but are thicker, and can be used to create a better shadow line for each course of shingles. Dimensional shingles also have a much better lifespan, with an expectancy of up to 40 years.

Clay And Concrete Tiles

  • Clay tile is usually used in the traditional Spanish look. But, clay is now available in several other patterns. Tile is a very durable material and is able to withstand some of the harshest elements such as hail, wind, and fire. There is one drawback to tiles, however: their weight. They require certain structural standards for the frame and decking of the roof.
  • They have a great life expectancy of 40 to 50 years.
  • Tiles may need to be predrilled and nailed if you have a steep pitch roof, or even supported by metal brackets, all of which could increase the cost associated with this type of roofing system. Most tile manufacturers offer a minimum of a 50 year limited warranty on their products.
  • Concrete tile has essentially all of the benefits of clay tile. Concrete tiles also have the advantage of being available in a greater number of styles including traditional clay and slate.

Metal In areas where forests, moss, or heavy precipitation are present, metal roofs are a great solution for a new roof. Usually made of steel, aluminum or copper, metal roofs offer some of the best protection for your home. Metal roofs withstand high winds, shed snow and rain very effectively, and are fire resistant. Metal roofs are very lightweight, weighing about one quarter of the weight of tile roofs and nearly half as much as asphalt shingles. Metal roofing is generally more expensive than asphalt roofing, but cheaper than tile or slate roofing.

When properly installed a metal roof will usually last as long as the house with manufacturer warranties of 50 years.

Slate And Synthetic Slate A slate roof is the most expensive roofing material on the market. It is also the most durable and one of the more attractive solutions. Slate is cut from slabs of stone. The roof tiles are most commonly grey but do occur in a variety of subtle color variations. Slate roofs regularly last over 100 years.

Slate roofs require little maintenance, are resistant to mold and insects, and are fire damage. Slate is a heavy roofing material and can only be used on roofs that are properly supported for such weight. Most residential homes will require additional materials and labor to increase the roofs strength. Quality workmanship is a must for these types of roofs.

Synthetic slate tiles are another option. They are made from a mixture of slate dust and glass fiber resin, or a combination of cement and fiber. Synthetic slate isn’t as brittle as real slate, and it offers many of the same protective qualities.

Environmentally Friendly Roofing Materials Green roofs are on the rise in popularity. They are energy efficient and earth friendly.

A green roof covers the traditional roof with vegetation that provides many benefits to the structure and the environment.

A green roof will have a number of layers; a soil layer, and layers for drainage and waterproofing, with the vegetation layer on top.

The roof may have an irrigation system installed for maintenance of the plants.

There are a number of advantages to having a green roof:

  • It reduces much of the heat from the roofs surface.
  • It’s a good sound insulator.
  • It reduces the amount of pollutants that run off with rainwater from roofs.
  • It retains much of the water in the soil and the plants will actually absorb some of the pollutants, purifying the water before it leaves the roof.
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