Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Parapets Make a Comeback

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Parapets Make a Comeback

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Fall

Parapet walls are generally not thought of as being a local architectural feature on our homes, but that wasn't always the case.

The fortified houses around the North-East at the time of the Border Rievers were mini-castles. The occupants needed to repel invaders by retiring to roof level and firing arrows and what have you, from behind the protection of the castellated parapets.

The larger country homes around the region continued this use of parapets, but more for aesthetic or even fashion reasons, than providing a safe area to hide behind.

These later homes followed the styles of similar large country homes in the rest of the country, but this trend was not repeated on the smaller homes of the mere mortals. Instead we did away with the parapets, and finished the edges of our roofs with overhanging eaves and gutters.

Things are changing however. Over the past 10 years we have seen new houses in the upper price range sprouting parapets as part of the gentrification of styles.

In addition, the gable walls and, in some instances, the party walls between the houses, have started to project above the line of the adjacent roof. It all looks very attractive but, unfortunately, these walls all need careful attention to detail to avoid future problems.

A normal house wall is only subjected to the weather from one side. With a parapet wall, however, it is exposed to rain, sun and frost from both sides.

So what? Well, brickwork constantly expands and contracts. This is caused by temperature and moisture. The surface temperature of an outside wall can vary from as high as 30 degrees plus to as low as minus 5.

Where the inside of the wall is protected by the fairly constant temperature inside the house, the overall structure of the wall doesn't have a wide variation in temperature, so it doesn't expand or contract too much. …

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