Pre-manufactured roof trusses come in a wide variety of styles. They are designed by the manufacturer for each specific building. Timber trusses also are built in a variety of styles using wood or metal joints. Heavy timber rafters typically spaced 8 feet (2.4 m) to 12 feet (3.7 m) apart are called principal rafters. Principal rafters may be mixed with common rafters or carry common purlins.
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.
Roof space ventilation is needed to combat condensation within the roof space, leading to interstitial condensation within the roof fabric; this can lead to serious structural damage, wet or dry rot, as well as ruining the insulation in the roof spec.
The roofing material is primarily designed to shed water. The covering is also a major element of the architecture so roofing materials come in a wide variety of colors and textures. The primary roof covering on houses in North America are asphalt shingles, but some have other types of roof shingles or metal roofs. Tile and thatch roofs are more common in Europe than North America. Some roofing materials help reduce air conditioning costs in hot climates by being designed to reflect light.