parapet roof

What is a Parapet Roof?

Originally created as a defensive structure for towers, castles and temples, parapet roofs are a timeless design still used in contemporary architecture. Read on to learn if one of these roofs is right for your home.

A Classic Design

By technical definition, parapet roofs are meant to be an extension of a wall where it meets the edge of a roof, walkway, terrace, balcony or structure. Each parapet is essentially a small, short, vertical wall that runs along the roofline. Ancient warriors would stand behind these structures to avoid enemy arrows. Over time, however, the design became more decorative, and while the style has evolved over the years, parapets are still used on a variety of structures including residential homes.

In modern houses, parapet roof additions are more of a safety feature that helps reduce the risk of wind and fire damage. They also provide a nice stylized look to a roofline. Contemporary parapets are designed to look more like a railing around a home’s roofline, adding a nice finishing touch that’s very decorative.

Strongly associated with medieval castles, the parapet design actually dates back to ancient Rome. Back then, parapets were usually made of marble. Over the centuries, Gothic architecture adopted the look, creating the iconic castle architecture most people think of today.

Originally, parapets consisted of low walls on a structure’s roof. Soldiers would duck behind them during sieges and throw rocks or fire arrows through the notches at the enemy soldiers below.

You probably won’t need to hide behind your parapets and throw junk at door-to-door salesmen, but there are still plenty of great reasons to add a parapet roof to your home. Still a very practical roof design, parapets are especially useful in the battle between man and Mother Nature.

parapet roof installation

What Are the Benefits?

Parapet roofs look great while also offering plenty of protection for a home. Since their rooflines extend above the roof plane, parapets provide excellent fire protection. This railing or short wall will help shield the roof membrane against flames and help keep small fires from raging out of control.

The parapet roofs also provide good wind resistance since pressure is evenly distributed across the entirety of the roof. The parapets also help prevent wind uplift that can harm shingles and promote premature wear. All of this makes parapet roof designs a particularly good option in high wind areas. Even if your home is located in an area that’s regularly subject to severe wind damage, protective parapets can help soften the immense force of wind gusts.

Highly stylized, this roof design also adds beautiful detail to any home. Its compelling architectural detail can put an intriguing finishing touch on structures. Very versatile, parapet roof designs can be used with all sorts of roof designs. For instance, you can have a gable and parapet roof in the same design.

Things to Consider

Building a parapet roof is a time-consuming project that requires a significant amount of materials and a great deal of expertise. The extended walls of a parapet roof will still have to endure the destructive force of rain, wind, snow and hail. To properly construct a parapet roof that can hold up against harsh weather, flashing and capping are essential.

Since modern parapets are constructed with wood framing, the design can be complex. Wall cavities are needed so the framing can be sunk within. These cavities require venting holes and other considerations.

Unfortunately, parapet walls can turn into an expensive nightmare when they are poorly built. Moisture can be extremely destructive to parapet roofs, causing leaks within the home. Because of this, parapet walls require regular maintenance. They also demand experienced roofers who know how to do the job right.

Whether you need a traditional roof, energy-efficient shingles or stylized roofing design, A to Z is here to help. For decades, the professionals at A to Z Roofing have served countless satisfied customers throughout the Denver metro and the Front Range. For nearly a quarter of a century, we have been the go-to source for expert commercial and residential roofing, repair and restoration for homeowners and businesses throughout Colorado. During this time, we’ve provided comprehensive service using only top-quality products. Contact our attentive team to schedule a free estimate and learn how we can restore, repair or replace your damaged or aging roof.

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