What is a Butterfly Roof?24 October 2014


On a fundamental level, your roof is perhaps the most important part of your property’s structural layout, protecting you from the elements and quite literally ‘putting a roof over your head’.

So when it comes to its design, it’s vital to have a roof fitted that meets the needs of your building. However, this doesn’t just have to be from a practical angle; consider the aesthetic appeal of your roof, too.

Butterfly roofs provide an ideal combination between the two. Also known as an ‘inverted pitch roof’ (and sometimes a ‘London roof’, despite its origins lying in 1930s USA), a butterfly roof is essentially created when two adjacent gables are pitched inward towards the centre, as opposed to rising to meet each other in an upward slope.

History of the Butterfly Roof

Unlike most roof designs, the butterfly roof shape is relatively new. Where once English Tudor-style houses and quaint country cottages ruled, the early to middle part of the 20th century saw a change towards forward-thinking design – particularly in urban areas, where clean and minimalist lines were favoured over ornate pitches.

Despite many stylistic elements from the Space Age period now looking dated and cheesy, butterfly roofs are one of the few things to have survived, proving to be a timeless design style that’s also highly practical.

Benefits of a Butterfly Roof

Butterfly roofs have a number of advantages that go beyond the eye-catching gullies and straight lines.

The valley created by the inward sloping gables is often used as a method of harvesting rainwater, channelling it down the roof and into containers for use in gardening, plumbing and even as drinking water.

In areas that suffer from high winds, such as coastal towns, the butterfly roof design provides an aerodynamic structure that reduces the risk of ‘pulling’ that sometimes occurs on the roofline of upwardly pitched eaves.

As there is no overhang on the roof line from fascias and soffits, the exterior wall can incorporate much higher windows or other structural elements, offering greater flexibility when it comes to design and layout.

Disadvantages of a Butterfly Roof

Due to the nature of the layout of a butterfly roof, it is difficult to see the roof surface from ground level. This can cause issues or damage to go unnoticed for long periods, leading to damp or leaks that could otherwise have been avoided – particularly if the loft space within the property is not regularly visited and signs of water ingress are not spotted early.

Similarly, if water is pooling undetected in the valley of the roof, the additional weight could be putting pressure on load-bearing elements without your knowledge, leading to bowing or cracks.
Written by Morgan Asphalte, the leading provider of roofing and repairs in the London area. Our team calls on over 45 years of experience to offer the highest quality services for roofing of all types, including asphalt, felt, slate, tiled, lead, liquid, aluminium and single ply systems.


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