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Roofing types in London

When one thinks of a roof on a building, one tends to think about tiles or slate, however this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to roofing. Admittedly, the vast majority of buildings in London will have a number of different names, including inverted pitch roof, butterfly roof and even the London Roof. It is a pitched roof, but it generally cannot be seen from ground level as it is concealed behind a parapet wall. Although these are the most common types of roof in London, there are many others to be found if you look up. Below we will look at just some of the roofing types and various differences that can be found in and around London.

  • Gabled roofs: These are probably the most common type of roof where the side wall continues up to the roof ridge.
  • Double or multiple gabled roof: These are similar to above but with double or more roofs.
  • Hipped roof: These roofs have slopes on all faces of the roof.
  • Double or multiple hipped roof: These are similar to above but with double or more roofs.
  • Half Hipped roof: These roofs are also known as a Barn Hip on traditional buildings. Only the upper portion of the roof nearest to the peak is hipped.
  • Gablet roof: Just the tip of the roof rises up vertically to create a peak in the roof.
  • Half hip and gablet roof: A combination of the two roof styles above.
  • Mansard roof: The mansard roof is double pitched to all four sides.
  • Gambrel roof: These roofs are also known as double pitch roofs and are frequently confused with the mansard roof.
  • Outshut or Catslide roof: This is where a smaller lower addition is added to a building, the new roof makes one continuous roof with the main roof, and is often at a shallower pitch to the main roof.
  • Shallow roofs: Often constructed from simple corrugated metal, plastic or asbestos. Flat or shallow roofs are often used on agricultural buildings, factory units and warehouses.
  • Mono pitch roof: A very basic single pitched gabled ended roof.
  • Lean to roof: Quite similar to an outshut roof but with a small addition to the side of the building, however the roofs are not continuous with one another. They are also known as a Pent roof.
  • Flat roofs: These are usually in mono pitch form, flat roofs are often used in domestic house extensions, tower blocks, and public and council buildings where cost of the build and ease of maintenance is a priority. Quite often buildings such as schools will have flat roofs. A roof is usually considered flat at 10 or less. Flat roofs are not the prettiest roof to look at but can be very practical and may not even be seen if a parapet is present.


A Dormer is often considered to simply be a window, but is in fact a separate smaller roofed structure protruding above a main roof. The window is fitted into the dormer itself. Dormers add space in the roof or lost area of a building.

Dormers are often additions to a building many years after the build has been completed. They often become a part of a loft conversion, allowing the home owner to make more from their unused roofspace. In recent decades roof lights have often been added instead of dormers due to their low cost, these are frequently referred to as Velux roof light or windows.

Dormer types

  • Gable fronted dormer.
  • Hipped dormer.
  • Flat roof or box dormer.
  • Shed dormer. These are a shallow pitch roof that falls in the same direction as the main roof.
  • Wall dormer: The main wall continues above the eaves line.
  • Round topped dormer.
  • Circular windowed dormer: These dormers are typical of French classical architecture.
  • Swept dormer: These are typical of those incorporated into thatched buildings.
  • Canted dormer.
  • Rooflights: More recently it has become popular to install roof lights as a quicker and cheaper alternative to dormers.

Parapets in London

Parapets are used in combination with the roof types that are listed above. The main walls of the building continues up hiding the eaves of the roof. Parapets are often used on taller buildings, where maintenance to eaves can be difficult. Parapets were made very popular in London after the Building Act of 1707 was introduced. The Act banned the projecting wooden eaves to reduce the risk of fire spreading to neighbouring buildings. The style became fashionable during Georgian times.

Curved roofs in London

Agricultural buildings such as cattle sheds or corrugated metal barns and haylofts are often simple curved corrugated iron roofs. However, nicer looking roofing materials can be used which means they are now very popular amongst new buildings and there are some very interesting looking buildings that have curved roofs.

Dome roofs in London

St Pauls Cathedral in London has got to be the most famous example of a domed roof.

Specialized roofs in London

Conical roofs. These can still be seen in oast, oast house or hop kiln houses. These are buildings designed for kilning or drying hops as part of the brewing process. They can be found in most hop growing and former hop growing areas around the country and are often good examples of vernacular architecture. Many old disused oasts have now been converted into houses or even shopping centres. The conical roofs were designed to channel hot air up through the kiln.

Windmill pivoting roofs. These are often called Onion cap roofs.

Opening roofs. Stadiums and Observatories will often have opening roofs. Some modern shopping malls and even railway stations employ them too.

Modern Roofs in London

Nowadays there is such a large choice of materials for use in roof construction, including different metals and glass which can produce interesting and imaginative shapes and some quite stunning results.

  • Saw-tooth roof: A quite barrack like design resembling the cutting teeth on a saw.
  • Hyperbolic paraboloidal roof: An interesting design that has been used on some petrol filling station canopies and Hatfield swimming pool in Hertfordshire also has this type of roof.
  • Folded roof: These types of roof are often employed in industrial factory units.
  • Butterfly roof: These are a strange looking roof where the roof dips down between two main structures below.

Unusual roofs in London

Grid shell roof: This is not a particularly well used method of roof construction. The entire building structure is constructed from a lattice grid of thin wood or steel. This allows for more unusual shapes to be achieved.

Roofing materials used in London

  • Green or living roofs.
  • Asbestos.
  • Slate.
  • Lead.
  • Felt.
  • Grit-stone.
  • Zinc.
  • Horsham slabs.
  • Thatch.
  • Clay Tile.
  • Asphalt.
  • Corrugated sheet metal.
  • Copper.
  • Steel.

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Further Information

If you would like to know more or are interested in a quote we would be happy to help. Phone us on 01438 229 655, email us at or fill in our enquiry form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

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