New roofing, whether an alteration or for a completely new house, will require new timber rafters. Old purlins and rafters may not be re-used (unless the roof tiles are simply being replaced).
Traditional or standard tiles are now made of cement and are available in an array of colours and profiles. Clay roofing tiles today are very expensive and rare, and mostly available as an imported item. Other natural sourced roofing includes Mazista slate tiles, which can only be fitted by the supplier, and again are very expensive. Roof purlins for the attachment of Mazista slate tiles as well as certain other profiles require special spacing. Thatching also is rarely requested and requires a knowledgeable supplier/fitter.
Roofing in South Africa is mostly designed to fall within a pitch of about 20 to 30 degrees. The lowest roof pitch would be 15 degrees to the apex of the rafters, while the higher the pitch the more tiles will be required to cover it. Steeply pitched roofs are not strictly necessary in a country where there is no snowfall.
Pitched roofs can follow the line of the gable (the brickwork is built to a pointed angle) or can be designed to fit level built brickwork by means of hips and valleys. The roof cover can be tile or roofing sheets. Tiles are nailed on individually, overlapping each other according to the profile used. Roof sheets, which are also available in a variety of profiles, widths, colours and finishes, must be overlapped and screwed on with safety water resistant screws compatible with the sheet. All roofing needs to be capped along the ‘seams’ between hips with ridging which matches the colour of the tile. Valleys are sealed with flushing fitted below the tile.
Flat roofs have no pitch but nevertheless require a fall of about, 350 to 500mm to allow rainfall to run towards the guttering.
Flat roofing is fitted below parapets (the brickwork is built higher than the roof which fits into a ‘well’ below the parapet line) and must be thoroughly waterproofed with flushing along the sides of the parapet to ensure against rainwater seepage which is quite a common problem with flat roofs in wet areas. Flat roofs are not tiled but use sheeting to cover. Flat roofs which form a balcony or deck for an upper floor will require a cement or concrete slab as roof cover.
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