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What is a Parapet ? Functions and Design Features

What is a Parapet ? Functions and Design Features

Parapet can be defined as a dwarf wall structure or a kind of heavy railing provided around the edge of a roof, balcony, terrace or stairway.

Parapet For Staircase

It is also called as parapeto in Spain and orbrustwehr in Germany, but share the same purpose and uses. 

Parapet rails for Balcony

Parapets are famous from medieval-era where it was used in castles, towers and temples, and now common in our homes. Within these years, their style and purposes have changed.

Lets look in detail the purpose of parapets and its construction details.

Functions of a Parapet Wall

Parapet Wall for a Modern Building

Parapet roof designs looks great and they provide a finish look to buildings with flat roofs. But other than beauty enhancement, parapet walls have certain functions to protect the buildings. The function of parapet walls are:

1. Parapet Wall for Fire Protection

Parapet wall or rails helps to guard the roof membrane against flame. These dwarf walls let the house remain undamaged during small fires. Its not a complete solution for large fires.

2. Parapet Walls for Wind Resistance

Parapet walls in roofs helps to distribute the wind evenly over the roof. Parapet walls prevent wind uplift that can result in damage to roof shingles. For high wind areas, parapet wall designs are a good choice. It is also a proven solution for a tornado and hurricane prone regions. For buildings affected by wind gusts due to any nearby large body of water, parapet walls are a good choice. 

3. Parapet Walls for Protecting Roof from dust, moisture and debris

4. Parapet Walls prevent unfortunate accidents 

Design and Construction of Parapet


Parapet Wall for Castle

The parapet design is strongly associated with medieval castle architecture, during which it was made from marble. This would give a classic castle architecture feature to the structure. But now, parapet walls are constructed using reinforced cement concrete (R.C.C), steel, aluminum, glass etc. 

Parapet walls are exposed to extreme weather conditions when compared to other forms of walls. Higher the exposure towards dampness, faster is the degradation of the parapet wall components. Hence, parapet walls must be designed to prevent water from penetrating the supporting masonry wall.

Parapet Wall Affected By Weather- Rain

Adequate water management facility must be provided in the form of copings, damp proof membranes and weep holes. Small defects in these regions can result in the severe water ingress to adjacent parts of the building. Continue Reading


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