Most building materials are permeable to water vapour; brick, concrete, plaster, wood and insulation all can fall victim to interstitial condensation, this is why UK Building Regulations require roofs to be ventilated, either by the use of soffit vents, ridge vents, or replacement ventilation slates or tiles.
Stone lintels have been used to support roofs since prehistoric times, but cannot bridge large distances. 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. 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.
Depending on the region, other commonly applied roofing materials installed by roofers include concrete tiles, clay tiles, natural or synthetic slate, single-ply (primarily EPDM rubber, PVC, or TPO), rubber shingles (made from recycled tires), glass, metal panels or shingles, wood shakes or shingles, liquid-applied, hot asphalt/rubber, foam, thatch, and solar tiles. "Living roof" systems, or rooftop landscapes, have become increasingly common in recent years in both residential and commercial applications.
A roofer, roof mechanic, or roofing contractor is a construction worker who specializes in roof construction. Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings, using a variety of materials, including shingles, bitumen, and metal. Roofing work can be physically demanding because it involves heavy lifting, as well as climbing, bending, and kneeling, often in extreme weather conditions.
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