Keeping a Church Operational
We gather here on Sundays, sometimes on a weeknight, and on special occasions. Other than those times, we don’t give much thought to these structures really. But they too need maintenance and upkeep, the bills paid, the lawncare done, and the structure itself needs maintenance and upkeep, including elements of the building such as the church roofing.
What is special about church roofs?
Church roofing is special because it is protecting a place of worship. It may be seen as just another structure, like the homes and businesses around it, but a church has significance to many. This is where people go to pray, watch a couple join the union of matrimony, or where we go to bid our last good-byes. The contents inside a church are often of historic value, as well as things of monetary value. Like a home, there are furnishings, flooring, electricity, plumbing, and more.
When we think of church roofing, we picture the steep, tall roofing with a steeple on the top. Today, though, church services are held in large metal constructed structures with flat low-sloped roofing or in strip center buildings with flat roofing. Still, no matter the type of structure and church roofing is still there for protecting a place of worship.
Why do churches have steep roofs?
There are some different opinions on the reason church roofing is typically made of a steep construction:
- One reason references back to the Middle Ages. The church roofing and steeple were built as high as they pointed to heaven. It was believed that it protected those who worshipped inside were protected from the evil spirits that many that afflicted church buildings.
- Another opinion why church roofing is typically steep is to draw our vision upward, toward the heavens. The lofty church roofing and the high ceilings inside not only direct us to look upward but remind us there is more to life than our own everyday earthly existence.
- And another opinion of steep church roofing, it gives the structure a more significant presence and makes it easier to locate the structure. Churches were built in a time when other structures were smaller, thus the steep church roofing dwarfed the other structures, making them seem insignificant. This is the building that housed the religious thoughts of eternity and infinity.
Do church roofs require regular maintenance?
A church structure that was constructed many years ago and still standing today is evidently a well-built, strong structure. But that doesn’t negate its need for routine maintenance and repairs. Just like our homes, the structural strength of a church depends on the foundation of the structure and the church roofing.
Climate, time, weather, and water do not pass over church roofing. This structure can be damaged, and the roof weakened by water leaks, wind damage, and more. However, the structure it protects often includes non-standard features, like concealed gutters, parapets, and steeples.
These features that make a church uniquely beautiful add complexity to maintaining and repairing the church roofing. It takes more than a residential roofing contractor, the person that repairs church roofing should have specific training and skills.
Most of any potential issues and problems with church roofing can be stopped and repaired before any severe and lasting damage happens. But, like our own home, the roofing should have regular inspections, gutter cleaning, and more to keep it healthy and safe.
What pitch is a church roof?
Traditional church roofing has a 50/12 pitch, making it one of the most distinguished and recognizable structures. These numbers mean that the roof rises upward 50” for every 12″ inward toward the peak. A roof peach can be measured in two ways:
- One: From the rooftop, a 12” level mark is made, and while keeping the measurement balanced and level, between the distance from the starting level point to the roof surface.
- Two: Start by measuring from the rafter bottom, measure the pitch in the same process, but in three locations. This is the preferred method of most roofing contractors.
How are steeples attached to church roofs?
A steeple can be constructed to stand on its own foundation, or it can be integrated into a larger structure, the church building, end wall, or sidewall frame. Many steeples on church roofing are timber-framed steeples and their bearing weight is divided into two posts on the church’s end walls and two posts on the ﬁrst roof trusses of the interior.
There are different components within the church roofing’s steeple. A steeple on church roofing can be five to six stories high. A top of the church roofing is the steeple, and a top of the steeple is the spire. Where the steeple is a turret of the church building, the spire is the top of the steeple, rising a tapered top higher. Below the spire, a church may have a lantern or some type of lighting, and below that is the Belfry where a bell is housed. At the steeple’s lowest level is the tower.
Is there a specific type of roof churches need?
Just as it is for your own home, church roofing is a big decision for the leaders to make. There are many different aspects to consider when looking at the many choices available. Things that must be considered in the decision are:
- Architectural Integrity
- Energy Efficiency
- Life Expectancy
- Maintenance Expenses
- Proper Installation
- Weight to Structure
- Fire Resistant
- Weather Strong
With the investment that new church roofing can take, more church leaders are going with metal church roofing now, but why? A list of the benefits they see metal roofing providing a longstanding ROI are:
- HEAT AND SUN: Where other roofing materials dry out in the Texas summer heat and sun, metal roofing withstands it the best.
- WIND RESISTANCE: All across Texas, the weather can include devastating high winds. From hurricanes to tornados to ‘northerners’, roof damage is the most common result.
- ICE AND SNOW: Ice and snow are two of the worse things that church roofing must withstand. Metal roofing quickly sheds snow loads, but the insulation under the metal roofing or the ice dams cannot be skipped.
- LIGHTNING: Research has found that metal roofing isn’t any more likely to attract lightning than other roofing materials. However, the elevation of church roofing is a concern. It is recommended that church roofing have grounding installed along with the metal roofing because of the height that the steeple and spire create.
- HAIL: Metal roofing is known for its hail resistance, and here in Texas, that is an important consideration.
- FIRE SAFETY: Church roofing needs to be protected from fire as much as other structures, and most metal roofing is rated at Class A, Class B, and Class C. A special underlayment is often included for specific building codes and fire classifications.
Which metal would be most suitable for a church roof?
Aluminum metal is the most popular choice among church leaders when deciding on the new church roofing material. It is attractive, energy-efficient, lightweight, fire-resistant, rust-resistant, and weather-resistant.
One final question – do churches use residential roofs? Today, not every church has a steep roof with a steeple, spire, or belfry. Church roofing styles vary from that traditional style to flat, low sloping, or domed roofing. So, it isn’t uncommon today for the leaders to choose the church roofing material based on the initial costs. This includes what is typical of residential roofing like composition shingles, wood shakes, clay, concrete, and slate tiles. However, these roofing materials are not the materials for longevity.
This means, they will look good and serve their purpose for the time being, but they will begin to deteriorate and lose their aesthetic appeal. And more importantly, put the church structure at risk for potential damage.