A roof is essentially the top surface of a structure, with all structures and materials needed to support it upon the ground or on upstanding pillars, giving protection from the elements of weather, rain, light, extreme temperatures, and wind. A roof may also be used to protect a building from damage, especially in the case of a hurricane or strong thunderstorm. A roof also covers a building’s interior. A roof protects the interior, but not necessarily from the elements; rather, the roof protects the integrity of the structure from damage due to external elements.
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There are several types of roofing materials, each offering various advantages and drawbacks, as well as varying levels of difficulty in installation. The most common roofing materials are asphalt shingles, which offer excellent fire retardant properties, are durable, easy to install, and have few moving parts; tiles are inexpensive and lightweight, but because of their design they require adherence to a strict building code, and they may rot if not properly installed. There are many more roofing options, such as metal roofing, wood shakes, pre-fabricated steel roofing systems, slate and ceramic tile roofs, among others.
The roofing materials selected depend upon many factors, such as the location of the structure, its aesthetic appeal, how well it functions, what it is made out of, etc. Certain roofing materials are better suited for certain climates. The roofing materials, in combination with proper installation techniques and a properly functioning venting system, play a very important role in protecting a structure against natural elements that may be detrimental to it, as well as acting to prevent damage and deterioration from external conditions. Proper roofing installation techniques depend upon the kind of roofing material being used, the overall condition of the structure, its location, the presence of existing roofing materials such as shingles, flashing, and ventilation, and how it will be installed. There are a variety of methods to install roofs, including the use of nails, screws, fasteners, plates, sheets, and membranes, among others. The roofing materials, roofing flashing, roofing materials used for vapor barriers, roofing materials for reinforcement, and roofing methods such as single-point, step-down, hip to ceiling, and prefabricated with prefabricated flashings are some other important factors that must be considered.