5 Roof structure

Introduction During the 19th century the construction timbers were cut by machine rather than and bolts were cheaper and more readily much the same as it had been 100 years 1900s A typical roof comprised a series of sloping timbers known as rafters fixed, at the top to a ridge board, and at the bottom to a wall plate. Ceiling joists supported the ceiling and acted as a tie to the rafters - to stop the rafter feet from spreading. A binder running at right angles to the ceiling joists could be added to help prevent deflection in the joists. In some houses the binder was connected to the ridge by a hanger, again to prevent deflection. This type of construction could be adapted for larger roofs. The roof shown on the right is the same in principle although there is an additional timber known as a purlin which prevents the rafters from sagging mid span. The purlin is supported by the gable-end walls (party walls in mid-terraced houses) and is sometimes strutted from an internal loadbearing wall (and sometimes the gable walls) to a provide additional support. of domestic roofs changed little. In the late 1800s by hand, and fixings in the forms of nails, screws available, but the nature of the structure was earlier.

The feet of the rafters were designed to provide a roof overhang or to finish flush with the wall. A fascia board at the feet of the rafters finished off the roof and supported the cast iron or, in a few cases, timber guttering.

Sometimes the style was adapted slightly.Some very large houses with big rooms did not have an internal loadbearing wall in an appropriate position. King and Queen post trusses could be used in this instance. larger examples still. and and a half truss supporting the end (hip) purlin. A hipped roof (below) is a different shape but the arrangement of the timbers is much the same. Other ways had to be found of supporting the purlins mid span. Larger examples had strutted purlins. had trusses . These were also widely used in factories and warehouses where large uninterrupted spaces were required.usually one full truss spanning front to back. . Nearly all the roofs built before 1940 would have been based on the closed couple or purlin design.

Timber was in short supply and new techniques had to be found. at the same time. At ground floor level timber was saved by building floors in concrete.Post War Years During the War 500. They were common during the 1950s. there was a chronic (it lasted for nearly 10 years) shortage of materials. In the post War period there was a massive building programme not just to rebuild these damaged homes but also to continue the slum clearance work of the 1930s.000 homes were damaged or destroyed. They did away with the need for internal loadbearing walls upstairs and allowed for smaller section rafters .often at slightly wider centres. But. This was not a practical solution for roofs (apart from a few flat roofs in system-built houses) so techniques were developed which would reduce the amount of timber used in a roof. In an attempt to avoid economic disaster the government placed strict limits on the import of materials. The TRADA truss is basically a lightweight version of the trusses shown above. Trussed rafters .

Perhaps their major disadvantage is that use of the roof space for storage (when using normal trusses) is severely limited due to the nature of the timbers. rigid roof structure. they have been popular since the 1960s. These are explained elsewhere on this web site. New 'cut' or traditional roofs are sometimes still found but they tend to be one-off dwellings often with living accommodation in the roof space. They are relatively cheap. When the trusses are in position additional timbers (braces) need to be added to produce a strong. which are typically 80 x 40mm in section. They can be designed with very shallow pitches. It's normal practice to strap the roofs to the blockwork inner leaf to prevent them lifting or moving in high winds. The trussed rafters are prefabricated and delivered to site ready for lifting onto the supporting walls. Spans of up to about 12 metres can easily be achieved. Nowadays the timber are normally pre-treated to guard against rot and insect attack. They offer vary fast construction.       No internal support is required from loadbearing partitions. Most modern roofs are constructed from trussed rafters. The most common pattern is the Fink or ‘W’ truss designed for symmetrical double-pitch roofs although there are a variety of shapes suitable for most roof designs. Modern roofs .The TRADA truss was relatively short lived. Modern trussed rafters and traditional roofs are both supported on softwood wall plates bedded in mortar on the inner leaf of the cavity wall. The timbers. although occasionally you will find the entire roof structure assembled on the ground and lifted into place by crane. are butt-jointed and held together by special plates (first introduced to the UK in the mid 1960s) which are pressed into position by machine. Skilled labour is not required. Trussed rafters offer several advantages when compared to traditional roofing methods.

There are other methods and these are explained elsewhere on this web site. .are normally ventilated to help minimise condensation. This is usually done by installing air vents at the eaves.