Roofing: Behind the “Sheets,” Part 1

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Part one in a five-part series.

A lot of people might see roofing and roof installation as simple science. But as you look up and see the intricate designs of the roof and all its surrounding parts, you might come to ask yourselves if there is something beyond the reason we use corrugated metal sheets for your roof. Are there any principles being considered when we put eaves and gutters on your houses? IS there more to roofing than what we see?

Well, to answer that, let’s first take a look at the diversity of roofing.

Similar to how mankind adapts to the climate and circumstances of the environment, the eventual progression from the lowly caves of the first humans to the Teflon-coated fiberglass membranes of the most modern buildings of today is often credited to where these dwellings are situated. Monsoon-prone areas developed heavier roofs to keep them from being blown away. Dry, arid desert countries are filled with flatbed roofs to allow them extra floor space since they don’t have to worry about rain that much.

The typical American tin roof is no exception to this climate-driven evolution. The way it is built now is based on what engineers think would be the best type of roof to use in our climate. Needless to say, it took a lot of experimentation to figure out what material, what set-up and what dimensions are needed for an American home. Roofs that are capable of not only keeping the warmth in during winter, but also keeping the house cool during summer, the humidity down during spring, and the wind chill out during fall.

And with each stage of experimentation, each part of the roofing develops its share in the science of shelter. Upcoming blog posts will take a look at the principles behind each one. The first element we’ll discuss is support beams.

  • Despite the obvious evolution of materials used in roof support, the main purpose and intent in using strong, sturdy materials is based on main purpose: to allow the roof to remain standing in times of tension and stress. Using light-weighted materials may be suited for the outer layers of the roof, but not for the support. As time progressed, one thing remains common among the materials used for support: its high strength. From the stone lintels of the prehistoric times to the steel girders of today’s skyscrapers, engineers make sure that the materials used in roof support would allow the covering to fully utilize its purpose, similar to how a house’s foundation allows the whole house to stand firmly on the ground.

More to come …

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