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, covering of the top of a building, serving to protect againstrainsnowsunlightwind, and extremes of temperature. Roofs have been constructed in a wide variety of formsflat,pitched, vaulted, domed, or in combinationsas dictated by technical, economic, oraestheticconsiderations.

The earliest roofs constructed by man were probablythatchedroofs that were made ofstraw, leaves, branches, or reeds; they were usually set at a slope, or pitch, so that rainfall could drain off them. Conical thatched roofs are a good example of this type and are still widely used in the rural areas of Africa and elsewhere. Thicker branches and timbers eventually came to be used to span a roof, with clay or some other relatively impermeable substance pressed into the interstices between them. Gabled and flat roofs were possible with these materials. With the invention of brick and cut stone for building, the basic roof forms of the dome and vault appeared.

Two main types of roofs areflat roofsand sloping ones. The flat roof (seetheFigure) has historically been widely used in theMiddle East, the American Southwest, and anywhere else where the climate is arid and the drainage of water off the roof is thus of secondary importance. Flat roofs came into widespread use in Europe and the Americas in the 19th century, when new waterproof roofing materials and the use of structuralsteeland concrete made them more practical. Flat roofs soon became the most commonly used type to cover warehouses, office buildings, and other commercial buildings, as well as many residential structures.

Sloping roofs come in many different varieties. The simplest is thelean-to, or shed, which has only one slope. A roof with two slopes that form an A or triangle is called agable, or pitched, roof. This type of roof was used as early as the temples ofancient Greeceand has been a staple of domestic architecture in northern Europe and the Americas for many centuries. It is still a very common form of roof. Ahip, or hipped, roof is a gable roof that has sloped instead of vertical ends. It was commonly used in Italy and elsewhere in southern Europe and is now a very common form in American houses. Gable and hip roofs can also be used for homes with more complicated layouts. Thegambrel roof is a type of gable roof with two slopes on each side, the upper being less steep than the lower. Themansard roofis a hipped gambrel roof, thus having two slopes on every side. It was widely used in Renaissance and Baroque French architecture. Both of the aforementioned roof types can provide extraatticspace or other room without building an entire additionalfloor. They can also have a strong aesthetic appeal.

Thevaultis a parallel series of arches used to form a roof, the most common form being a cylindrical orbarrel vault. Vaults came into their greatest prominence inGothic architecture. Thedomeis a hemispherical structure that can serve as a roof. Domes have surmounted some of the most grandiose buildings of ancient Roman, Islamic, and post-medievalWestern architecture. Vaults and domes do not require a supporting framework directly below the vaulting because they are based on the principle of thearch, but flat and gable roofs frequently require internal supports such astrussesor other bracing. Atrussis a structural member that is composed of a series of triangles lying in a single plane. Until the later 19th century, such supporting frameworks were made of wooden beams, sometimes in highly complicated systems. Steel andreinforced concretehave for the most part replaced such heavy wooden support systems, and such materials moreover have enabled the development of new and dramatic roof forms. Thin-shell roofs using concrete reinforced with steel rods can produce domes and barrel vaults that are only three inches thick yet span immense spaces, providing unobstructed interior views for stadiums and amphitheatres. In cantilevered roofs, a roof made of thinprecast concreteis suspended from steel cables that are mounted on vertical towers or pylons of some sort. Thegeodesic domeis a modern structural variant of the dome form.

The external covering of a roof must prevent rainfall or other precipitation from penetrating a building. There are two main groups of roof coverings. One group consists of a waterproof membrane or film that is applied as a liquid and that repels water by its utter impermeability after it has dried; the tar that is used to coat roofing felt is the prime example of this type. The other group consists of pieces of a waterproof material that are arranged in such a way as to prevent the direct passage of water through the joints between those pieces. This group includes shingles made of various materials, tiles made of baked clay orslate, and corrugated sheets of steel, aluminum,leadcopper, orzinc. Flat roofs are normally covered with roofing felt and tar, while sloped roofs are generally covered with shingles or sheet metal.

in these related Britannica articles:

Islamic arts: Building materials and technology

Gabled wooden roofs, however, were erected in the Muslim world west of the Euphrates and simple barrel vaults to the east. Vaulting, either in brick or in stone, was used, especially in secular architecture. Domes were employed frequently in mosques, consistently in mausoleums, and occasionally in secular

all types of buildings the roof is the most important feature, and by the Tang dynasty the characteristic upturned eaves and heavy glazed and coloured tile covering had developed. The roof is chiefly supported by timber posts on stone or bronze bases, and the walls of the building serve merely

building construction: Primitive building: the Stone Age

clay; all traces of roofs have disappeared. In Europe tholoi were built of dry-laid stone with domed roofs; there are still surviving examples (of more recent construction) of these beehive structures in the Alps. In later Middle Eastern tholoi a rectangular antechamber or entrance hall appeared, attached to the

building construction: Timber frames

art conservation and restoration: Techniques of building conservation

The roof is a buildings first defense. It must be impervious and collect water clear of a building.

finishes are commonly either of unit materials such as tiles, slates, or stone or of boarding covered in sheet metal, such as lead. The failure of unit

7 references found in Britannica articles

Inbuilding construction: Primitive building: the Stone Age

Inbuilding construction: Timber frames

InChinese architecture: The elements of traditional Chinese architecture

InIslamic arts: Building materials and technology

Inart conservation and restoration: Techniques of building conservation

Old and Sold – Evolution Of Roof And Ceiling

How Stuff Works – Home – How To Repair a Leaky Roof

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