The characteristics of a roof are dependent upon the purpose of the building that it covers, the available roofing materials and the local traditions of construction and wider concepts of architectural design+ and practice and may also be governed by local or national legislation+.
The '''material''' of a roof may range from banana+ leaves, wheaten straw+ or seagrass+ to laminated glass+, copper+ ''(see: copper roofing+)'', aluminium+ sheeting and pre-cast concrete+.
The '''construction''' of a roof is determined by its method of support and how the underneath space is bridged and whether or not the roof is ''pitched''. Some types of roofing, for example thatch+, require a steep pitch in order to be waterproof and durable.
The '''durability''' of a roof is a matter of concern because the roof is often the least accessible part of a building for purposes of repair and renewal, while its damage or destruction can have serious effects.
The basic shapes of roofs are flat+, mono-pitched+, gable+d, hipped+, butterfly+, arch+ed and dome+d. There are two parts to a roof, its supporting structure and its outer skin, or uppermost weatherproof layer. The roof structure is generally supported upon walls, although some building styles, for example, geodesic+ and A-frame+, blur the distinction between wall and roof. The supporting structure of a roof usually comprises beams that are long and of strong, fairly rigid material such as timber+, and since the mid-19th century, cast iron+ or steel+. Stone lintels+ have been used to support roofs since prehistoric times+, but cannot bridge large distances. With continual improvements in steel girder+s, these became the major structural support for large roofs, and eventually for ordinary houses as well. The 20th century saw the manufacture of composition asphalt shingle+s which can last from a thin 20-year shingle to the thickest which are limited lifetime shingles, the cost depending on the thickness and durability of the shingle. Slate+ is an ideal, and durable material, while in the Swiss Alps+ roofs are made from huge slabs of stone, several inches thick. Asbestos+, usually in bonded corrugated panels, has been used widely in the 20th century as an inexpensive, non-flammable roofing material with excellent insulating properties.
Roofs made of cut turf (modern ones known as green roof+s, traditional ones as sod roof+s) have good insulating properties and are increasingly encouraged as a way of "greening" the Earth. In areas where clay is plentiful, roofs of baked tiles+ have been the major form of roofing.
Sheet metal+ in the form of copper+ and lead+ has also been used for many hundreds of years. In the 19th century, iron, electroplated with zinc+ to improve its resistance to rust, became a light-weight, easily transported, waterproofing material. In the 20th century a large number of roofing materials were developed, including roofs based on bitumen (already used in previous centuries), on rubber and on a range of synthetics such as thermoplastic+ and on fibreglass+.
Because the purpose of a roof is to protect people and their possessions from climatic elements, the insulating properties of a roof are a consideration in its structure and the choice of roofing material. Some roofing materials, particularly those of natural fibrous material, such as thatch, have excellent insulating properties. Forms of insulation are felt or plastic sheeting, sometimes with a reflective surface, installed directly below the tiles or other material; synthetic foam batting laid above the ceiling and recycled paper products and other such materials that can be inserted or sprayed into roof cavities.
Poorly insulated and ventilated roofing can suffer from problems such as the formation of ice dams+ around the overhanging eaves in cold weather, causing water from melted snow on upper parts of the roof to penetrate the roofing material.
Similar problems, although on a very much larger scale, confront the builders of modern commercial properties which often have flat roofs. There are regional building styles which contradict this trend, the stone roofs of the Alpine chalets being usually of gentler incline. The water repelled by the roof during a rainstorm is potentially damaging to the building that the roof protects. Areas prone to heavy snow benefit from a metal roof because their smooth surfaces shed the weight of snow more easily and resist the force of wind better than a wood shingle or a concrete tile roof. Newer systems include solar shingle+s which generate electricity+ as well as cover the roof. It is the covering on the uppermost part of a building+ or shelter+ which provides protection from animals and weather+, notably rain+ or snow+, but also heat+, wind+ and sunlight+.

In many parts of the world ceramic+ tile+s have been the predominant roofing material for centuries, if not millennia.
Other types of roofing, for example pantiles+, are unstable on a steeply pitched roof but provide excellent weather protection at a relatively low angle. The main factors which influence the shape of roofs are the climate and the materials available for roof structure and the outer covering.
In countries that use bamboo+ extensively, the flexibility of the material causes a distinctive curving line to the roof, characteristic of Oriental architecture+. The timber structure can fulfil an aesthetic as well as practical function, when left exposed to view. The stone arch came into extensive use in the ancient Roman+ period and in variant forms could be used to span spaces up to 140 feet (43 m) across.
Another form of girder+ is the reinforced concrete+ beam, in which metal rods are encased in concrete, giving it greater strength under tension+. In vernacular architecture+, roofing material is often vegetation, such as thatches+, the most durable being sea grass+ with a life of perhaps 40 years. When a layer of shingles wears out, they are usually stripped, along with the underlay and roofing nails, allowing a new layer to be installed. Health+ and legal issues+ involved in the mining and handling of asbestos products means that it is no longer used as a new roofing material. Adobe roofs are roofs of clay, mixed with binding material such as straw or animal hair, and plastered on lathes to form a flat or gently sloped roof, usually in areas of low rainfall. The casting and firing of roof tiles is an industry that is often associated with brickworks+. Both are expensive but durable, the vast copper roof of Chartres Cathedral+, oxidised to a pale green colour, having been in place for hundreds of years.
Its low cost and easy application made it the most accessible commercial roofing, worldwide. When installed leaving a space between the tiles and the roof surface, it can reduce heating caused by the sun. So called Cool roof+s are becoming increasingly popular, and in some cases are mandated by local codes.
Ice dams occur when heat escapes through the uppermost part of the roof, and the snow at those points melts, refreezing as it drips along the shingles, and collecting in the form of ice at the lower points.
The large area of a roof repels a lot of water, which must be directed in some suitable way, so that it does not cause damage or inconvenience.
In a Middle Eastern country, where the roof may be used for recreation, it is often walled, and drainage holes must be provided to stop water from pooling and seeping through the porous roofing material. Because of the very large nature of such roofs, it is essential that the outer skin be of a highly impermeable material.
Houses in areas of low rainfall frequently have roofs of low pitch while those in areas of high rainfall and snow, have steep roofs.
These buildings tend to accumulate a large amount of snow on them, which is seen as a factor in their insulation. There are also solar systems available that generate hot water or hot air and which can also act as a roof covering.
It is the covering on the uppermost part of a building or shelter which provides protection from animals and weather, notably rain or snow, but also heat, wind and sunlight.
A verandah+ may be roofed with material that protects against sunlight but admits the other elements. Other roofing materials include asphalt+, coal tar pitch+, EPDM rubber+, Hypalon+, polyurethane foam+, PVC+, slate+, Teflon fabric+, TPO+, and wood shakes and shingles+. Most US domestic architecture+, except in very dry regions, has roofs that are sloped, or ''pitched''. In regions where there is little rain, an almost flat roof with a slight run-off provides adequate protection against an occasional downpour.
Roofs constructed of flat sections that are sloped are referred to as pitched roof+s (generally if the angle exceeds 10 degrees).

The stone arch or vault+, with or without ribs, dominated the roof structures of major architectural works for about 2,000 years, only giving way to iron beams with the Industrial Revolution+ and the designing of such buildings as Paxton+'s Crystal Palace+, completed 1851.
While the shape and colour of tiles was once regionally distinctive, now tiles of many shapes and colours are produced commercially, to suit the taste and pocketbook of the purchaser. Lead, which is sometimes used for church roofs, was most commonly used as flashing+ in valleys and around chimneys on domestic roofs, particularly those of slate. In developed countries, the majority of dwellings have a ceiling+ installed under the structural members of the roof. This can result in structural damage from stress, including the destruction of gutter and drainage systems.
The longhouse+s of Papua New Guinea+, for example, being roof-dominated architecture, the high roofs sweeping almost to the ground. If it lies around the foundations it may cause seepage to the interior, rising damp+ or dry rot+. The roof of a garden conservatory+ protects plants from cold, wind, and rain, but admits light.
Although modern construction elements such as drainpipes may remove the need for pitch, roofs are pitched for reasons of tradition and aesthetics. Pitched roofs, including gabled, hipped and skillion roofs, make up the greatest number of domestic roofs. However, slate roofs are often expensive to install – in the USA, for example, a slate roof may have the same cost as the rest of the house.
Steel shingle or standing-seam roofs last about 50 years or more depending on both the method of installation and the moisture barrier (underlayment) used and are between the cost of shingle roofs and slate roofs. For this reason most buildings have a system in place to protect the walls of a building from most of the roof water. Roofings Group+ Roofings Group, often referred to simply as Roofings, is the largest manufacturer of steel construction materials in Uganda, with installed production capacity of 72,000 metric tonnes annually. So the pitch is partly dependent upon stylistic factors, and partially to do with practicalities. Some roofs follow organic shapes, either by architectural design or because a flexible material such as thatch has been used in the construction. Often, the first part of a slate roof to fail is the fixing nails; they corrode, allowing the slates to slip. Most modern roofs and many old ones have systems of valleys, gutters, waterspouts, waterheads and drainpipes+ to remove the water from the vicinity of the building. Besides the decorative benefit, roof plantings may provide food, temperature control, hydrological benefits, architectural enhancement, habitats or corridors for wildlife, recreational opportunities, and in large scale it may even have ecological benefits. Because of this problem, fixing nails made of stainless steel+ or copper+ are recommended, and even these must be protected from the weather. Rooftop photovoltaic power station+ A rooftop photovoltaic power station, or rooftop PV system, is a photovoltaic system that has its electricity-generating solar panels mounted on the rooftop of a residential or commercial building or structure. Roof shingle+ Roof shingles are a roof covering consisting of individual overlapping elements.
These elements are typically flat, rectangular shapes laid in courses from the bottom edge of the roof up, with each successive course overlapping the joints below. Roof and tunnel hacking+ Roof and tunnel hacking is the unauthorized exploration of roof and utility tunnel spaces.
The term carries a strong collegiate connotation, stemming from its use at MIT, where the practice has a long history.
Roof pitch+ In building construction, roof pitch is a numerical measure of the steepness of a roof.

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