A parapet is a low protective wall along the edge of a roof, terrace or balcony of a house. It extends vertically and may be a continuation of the exterior wall, or another building feature like a firewall between attached houses.
While parapets were once used to protect soldiers from the enemy, they are now used as guard rails, to hide things installed on the roof like swamp coolers and air conditioners, or as a decorative element on the house.
How Many Different Types of Parapets Are There?
There are many different styles of parapet from simple ones, with just a cap on top like these from PTFoamDesign.com. The tops of a parapet wall can get much fancier with all sorts of decorative trim like corbels and dentil molding.
More important are the functions served by a parapet:
- Guard rails provide safety for anyone working on the roof, or enjoying the view from a rooftop deck.
- With attached housing, the fire wall between units can continue above the roof with a parapet.
- And if we remember the castles of our childhood, then we also know that castles often had parapets that were used for defense.
Note: When you wrap a wall around the perimeter of your roof, you're going to trap water unless you include scuppers in your design to allow water to flow off your roof.