In building houses and other structures, one of the most important features is the roof. The roof provides internal protection to the building from the elements with a weatherproof outer shell. This protection is important, so roofing is one of the first things to be handled after most construction sites have the fundamental structures of a building’s exterior and load-bearing walls in place. Different roof construction methods vary depending on local conditions, product availability, and local customs.
The most significant component of roof design is achieving the right plan. Roof construction involves three main elements:
- The roofing materials used
- The construction process
- The overall durability and cost-effectiveness of the roof for the application
These three factors are the decisive elements for matching a particular roof to a specific application.
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When planning the materials to be used for the roof’s construction, local weather conditions must be taken into account. Traditional tropical island hut thatch roofing will not be a suitable form of roofing material in northern winters’ extreme cold and snow. By the same logic, a heavily insulated asphalt roof can make a living in the same island house unbearable as it collects heat from the midday sun.
Local conditions also play a role in the decision to build a roof. In some areas of the world, steeply pitched roofs help to quickly shed water and snow. This gabled roof design allows homes and other buildings to clear heavy snowpacks that can cause damage. In other areas, wide, low-peak roof construction is more common. This design protects the interior of the building from rain but can withstand wild storm winds with minor damage than a gabled roof.
Finally, the design process must consider the durability, aesthetics, and cost of a particular type of roof structure. While Mexico’s stone or clay tiled roofs can be beautiful to look at, the freezing and thawing of northern climates can quickly cause this type of roof to deteriorate. Likewise, the comparatively low cost of metal roofing has led many builders to abandon costly but beautiful shake tile roofing for less expensive and more durable metal roofing.