The basic shapes of roofs are flat, mono-pitched, gabled, hipped, butterfly, arched and domed. There are many variations on these types. Roofs constructed of flat sections that are sloped are referred to as pitched roofs (generally if the angle exceeds 10 degrees). Pitched roofs, including gabled, hipped and skillion roofs, make up the greatest number of domestic roofs. Some roofs follow organic shapes, either by architectural design or because a flexible material such as thatch has been used in the construction.
Sheet metal in the form of copper and lead has also been used for many hundreds of years. 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. 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. Copper was used for the same purpose.
The roof framing may be interrupted for openings such as a chimney or skylight. Chimneys are typically built with a water diverter known as a cricket or saddle above the chimney. Flashing is used to seal the gap between the chimney and roofing material.
A common method of ventilating a roof is to make openings in the soffit and ridge to allow natural air flow. This example also has ventilated exterior walls called rainscreen construction.
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