All about Roofs & Roof Trusses

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 featues 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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