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Chapter 7 Structural carcassing

Construction of a flat roof

Flat roofs joists are similar in construction to floor joists (discussed later in this chapter) but unless they are to be accessible, they are not so heavily loaded. Joists are, therefore, of a smaller dimension than those used in flooring. There are many ways to provide a fall on a flat roof. The method you choose depends on what the direction of fall is and where on a building the roof situated.

Firring piece long wedge tapered at one end and fixed on top of joists to create the fall on a flat roof

Laying joists to a fall

This method is by far the easiest: all you have to do is ensure that the wall plate fixed to the wall is higher than the wall plate on the opposite wall or vice versa. The problem is that this method will also give the interior of the roof a sloping ceiling. This may be fine for a room such as a garage, but for a room such as a kitchen extension the client might not want the ceiling to be sloped and another method would have to be used.

Joists with firring pieces

Firring pieces provide a fall without disrupting the interior of the room, but involve more work. Firrings can be laid in two different ways, depending on the layout of the joists and the fall. The lay out of joists is explained in more detail in the flooring section of this chapter.




Wall plate

Variable depth firrings to give fall Figure 7.56 Joists with firring pieces
Heinemann NVQ2 Carpentry 9pt Zurich BT aw_043546471X_126

Joists fixed level

Figure 7.55 Joists laid to a fall

Heinemann NVQ2 Carpentry 9pt Zurich BT aw_043546471X_127

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Carpentry and Joinery NVQ and Technical Certificate Level 3

Using firring pieces Definition

Header a piece of timber bolted to the wall to carry the weight of the joists Camber (crown) the bow or round that occurs along some timbers depth

The basic construction of a flat roof with firrings begins with the building of the exterior walls. Once the walls are in place at the correct height and level, the carpenter fits the wall plate on the eaves wall (there is no need for the wall plate to be fitted to the verge walls). This can be bedded down with cement, or nailed through the joints in the brick or block work with restraining straps fitted for extra strength. The carpenter then fixes the header to the existing wall. The header can either be the same depth as the joists or have a smaller depth. If it is the same depth, the whole of the joist butts up to the header and the joists are fixed using joist hangers; if the header has a smaller depth, the joists can be notched to sit on top of the header as well as using framing anchors. Once the wall plate and header are fixed, they are marked out for the joists at the specified centres (300mm, 400mm or 600mm). The joists are cut to length, checked for camber (crown) and fixed in place using joist hangers. Strutting or noggings are then fitted to help strengthen the joists. Once the joists are fixed in place they must have restraining straps fitted. A strap must be fitted to a minimum of one joist per 2m run, then firmly anchored to the wall to prevent movement in the roof under pressure from high winds. The next step is to fix the firring pieces, which are either nailed or screwed down onto the top of the joists. Insulation is fitted between the joists, along with a vapour barrier to prevent the movement of moisture caused by condensation.

Did you know?

Condensation is caused when the moisture in hot air meets cold air and condenses, turning it from a gas into a liquid

Once the insulation and vapour barrier are fitted, it is time to fit the decking. As you may remember from Level 2, decking a flat roof can be done with a range of materials including:

tongued and grooved board

Safety tip
Once the roof has been decked and is safe to walk on, the area around the roof (the verges and eaves) must be cordoned off with a suitable edge protection containing handrails and toeboards

These boards are usually made from pine and are not very moisture-resistant, even when treated, so they are rarely used for decking these days. If used, the boards should be laid either with, or diagonal to, the fall of the roof. Cupping of the boards laid across the fall could cause the roof covering to form hollows in which puddles could form.

Only roofing grade boards stamped with WBP (weather/water boil proof) should be used. Boards must be supported and securely fixed on all edges in case there is any distortion, which could rip or tear the felt covering. A 1mm gap must be left between each board along all edges in case there is any movement caused by moisture, which again could cause damage to the felt.

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