10 Types of Roofs and the Possibilities of Slate Tiles

10 Types of Roofs and the Possibilities of Slate Tiles

Every child has drawn a house. Perhaps a sunny day with some clouds, a leafy tree, a family with a dog, low wooden fences, or even a car. But in these drawings, they will almost certainly draw a simple rectangle with a gable or hip roof. This archetype of the house appears in virtually all cultures, and even today many architects use it for contemporary projects.

In addition to the primary function of draining rainwater and snow, and thus protecting the building from the weather, roofs can be an important aesthetic device for composing a project. In modern architecture, waterproof roof slabs emerged as a popular alternative, but sloping roofs have continued to captivate both clients and architects. In this article, we will cover the various types of roofs and, more specifically, the manufacturing process and characteristics of natural slate tiles.

Zen Garden Resort Zánka / Másfél Építész Stúdió. Image © Péter Koronczi – Px2lab Architectural Visualisation
Zen Garden Resort Zánka / Másfél Építész Stúdió. Image © Péter Koronczi – Px2lab Architectural Visualisation

When designing a roof, architects can choose from a wide variety of materials. Whether they decide on metallic, ceramic, asphalt, or other tiles can significantly alter the aesthetics of the project, its costs, its thermal characteristics, and even the dimensioning of the support structure. Slate tiles, with their dark colors, subtle variations, and elegant texture, often please many tastes. Slate is a 100% natural product that only goes through the extraction and carving process, requiring no additional treatment and generating no chemical waste. This qualifies it as a sustainable alternative to other material options, since its residues of production are entirely natural; likewise, the original landscape can be completely recovered with native plants in a process supervised and approved by environmental agencies. Slate is a durable and fire-resistant material, ensuring structural security of the roof in the event of a fire. However, an important point to consider is that, as a natural stone, slate is also a heavy material, requiring a robust support structure to hold its own weight. Also, it is always essential, like with any other type of tile, to pay attention to the minimum and maximum angle of inclination.

Villa G / Audrius Ambrasas Architects. Image Cortesia de Audrius Ambrasas Architects
Villa G / Audrius Ambrasas Architects. Image Cortesia de Audrius Ambrasas Architects

From the quarry, natural slate must go a long way before it can be installed on a roof. Its manufacturing process is somewhat artisanal. At the quarry site, geologists thoroughly examine the best areas to perform the extraction. The slate is then sawn from the quarry face into large flat slabs using a steel cable and then sliced and transported to the factory. There, the blocks are selected and sawn in different sizes, according to their quality and potential for use. The next step is the molding process, in which smaller blocks are cut one by one by qualified artisans into sheets. Then, the corners of each part are chamfered by a machine and, after a final inspection, are ready for use.

Bioclimatic 'Longère' House / INDY ARCHITECTES. Image Cortesia de INDY ARCHITECTES
Bioclimatic 'Longère' House / INDY ARCHITECTES. Image Cortesia de INDY ARCHITECTES
Cortesia de Cupa Pizarras
Cortesia de Cupa Pizarras
Tipos de instalação: Pregos / Ganchos. Image Cortesia de Cupa Pizarras
Tipos de instalação: Pregos / Ganchos. Image Cortesia de Cupa Pizarras

For installation, the slate tiles are applied on the support structure of the roof, potentially over an anti-vapor layer. There are two main ways to install the parts. They can be drilled and "nailed" to the structure, or workers can use small hooks that hold each tile without piercing them. As noted in the examples shown in this article, the material also can finish walls. On roofs, the tile typologies can vary a lot, adapting to the specifics of each project. Below are 10 general types of roofs:

Cortesia de Cupa Pizarras
Cortesia de Cupa Pizarras

1. Gable roof: the most common type, consisting of two planes that can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. It can include eaves or not. Finally, this type of roof is very functional: it is easy to build, drains water well, facilitates ventilation, and adapts to most architectural projects.

Home for Life / AART Architects. Image Cortesia de AART Architects
Home for Life / AART Architects. Image Cortesia de AART Architects

2. Hip roof: also quite common, it is a slightly more complex construction, composed of 4 inclined planes. It is suitable especially for regions with strong winds, as none of the gables represents a barrier to wind passage.

MéMo Médiathèque of Monein / OECO Architectes. Image © Franck Brouillet
MéMo Médiathèque of Monein / OECO Architectes. Image © Franck Brouillet

3. Dutch roof: similar to a gabled roof, but with two pronounced planes of inclination. This type of roof provides access to the attic, in addition to adding natural light and extra space.

4. Mansard roof: very common in Paris, this is a roof with four sides constituted by 8 planes, the lower ones being steeply inclined and the upper ones lying almost flat, providing space below the roofing.

Parliament for the German-Speaking Community / Atelier Kempe Thill. Image © Ulrich Schwarz
Parliament for the German-Speaking Community / Atelier Kempe Thill. Image © Ulrich Schwarz

5. Flat roof: Most flat roofs are not 100% flat, but slope slightly. This subtle slope allows water to drain better.

6. Shed roof: a unique plan, which provides space for large windows and a high ceiling.

Music Conservatory in Melun / DE-SO. Image © Herve Abbadie
Music Conservatory in Melun / DE-SO. Image © Herve Abbadie

7. Butterfly roof: two planes inclined to a central track. This type of roof provides plenty of light and ventilation, but the detailing of the gutters must be done very well to avoid infiltration problems.

Slate School / Patriquin Architects. Image © Ian Christmann
Slate School / Patriquin Architects. Image © Ian Christmann

8. Gambrel roof: can be characterized as a gable roof, but with four planes of different slopes. This allows for better use of the internal space in the attic

Cortesia de Cupa Pizarras
Cortesia de Cupa Pizarras

9. Dormer roof: characterized by roof windows illuminating and increasing the existing space. They protrude and create useful space outside the roof, as well as providing additional natural light and ventilation.

Ship Chandler’s Warehouse, Skibshandlen / RAVN Arkitektur. Image © Adam Mørk
Ship Chandler’s Warehouse, Skibshandlen / RAVN Arkitektur. Image © Adam Mørk

10. M Shaped roof: composed of two or more gabled roofs.

Cortesia de Cupa Pizarras
Cortesia de Cupa Pizarras

Sloping roofs can do much more than drain water, instead becoming focal points in buildings by blending or standing out in context. Understanding the possibilities of these typologies and materials is vital to making the best choice for each project, combining functionality, aesthetics, and affordability.

Learn more about natural slate roofs on the Cupa Pizarras website.

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About this author
Cite: Souza, Eduardo. "10 Types of Roofs and the Possibilities of Slate Tiles" [10 Tipos de telhados e as possibilidades das telhas de ardósia] 12 Nov 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/950937/10-types-of-roofs-and-the-possibilities-of-slate-tiles> ISSN 0719-8884
Montaña House / [baragaño]. Image © Mariela Apollonio

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