All you need to know about parapets

Articles > All you need to know about parapets

The word Parapet has been derived from an Italian language word “Parapetto”. In German language it is called “Brustung”. In English it is called Parapets. Parapet is the product of two Italian Words “Parare” and “Petto”. Parare means to defend and Petto means Breast. Combined meaning is “to defend with extended portion of some thing”. Parapets are constructed on the walls, external peripheries of stairs, edges of roof, terrace and party walls. It may be a portion of firewall across the roof. The purpose of parapets is to protect ourselves and children from falling down. The grill of a terrace is very good example of parapet.

Purpose of Parapets:

(1). Safety:

Parapets are the primitive tools to protect the houses from the military attack or attack of enemy. It was obligatory in religion of Jews and the teachings of Moses prescribed parapets on roof edges for newly constructed houses as a safety measure.

Even today the purpose remains the same, however, some additional ends are added to the purpose of parapets, like decoration of houses, falling down of the roof and hiding the interior of houses etc. Anyhow the main purpose of the parapets is to defend ourselves and our homes from external and the internal threats. In the following picture the purpose of parapet is not to defend from the external danger, but rather to defend from falling down into the deep water. Parapets are not only built on the buildings but they are also constructed on the top of ships.

In short the objective of a parapet is to defend ourselves and our houses in one way or the other. Parapets are made in different ways and different types of materials are used while constructing a parapet. They may be of concrete, bricks and iron, steel or other metals, depending on cost in different regions of the world.

(2). Utilizing the Space of House:

Without the existence of a parapet, the use of the roof of the building is not safe. In order to utilize the upper space of the building, it becomes necessary to make the roof safe and protective. The safety of a roof is possible only through the construction of a parapet.

(3). Aesthetics:

The parapet wall acts as an architectural element which adds the beauty and attraction of the building. Making a building more charming, parapets with beautiful designs are constructed. In modern day architecture the attraction of a building depends highly on the designs of parapet walls.

(4). Protecting the privacy of houses:

Another important aim of the construction of a parapet is to protect the interior privacy of a house or office. The interior activities are seldom visible to the outsiders.

(5). Protection from Winds:

Another but very important factor behind the construction of a parapet is to protect the building and its residents from the winds. The wind might be unfavorably cold or warm. It is compulsory to protect the houses from the unwanted winds.

(6). Protection from spread of fire:

This factor holds primary position especially in the congested and densely populated areas, where the outbreak of fire may spread up to hundreds of meters, before the arrival of fire extinguishing team.  The parapet walls protect a building from spread of fire.

(7). Clean Façade:

As the parapets protect the building from the outer winds, therefore it also protects the building from the entering of dust present in the air. Another reason behind clean façade is the altitude of the roof.

Types of Parapet Walls:

            There are a dozens of types of parapets, but still the following types of parapets are very common all through the globe and from Japan to Mexico. The introduction to these most common types of parapets is as under;

(1). Embattles Parapet:

This type of parapet is the primitive type of parapet, which were build around the cities and palaces. The purpose of these types of walls was to protect from the enemies. These parapets were build on the top of a yards wide wall. These were built in the form of a street with openings at particular distances. In the street the soldiers wandered here and there with weapons. These walls acted as the ambushes. Great Wall of China is good example of Embattled Parapet.

(2). Plain/Solid Parapet:

This type of Parapet is easy to construct and maintain. These walls are made up of bricks or RCC and run throughout the wall. Such type of walls has not openings and these walls are not meant for deploying guards/soldiers. Their purpose is same as mentioned in the above lines.

(3). Perforated Parapets:

These types of parapet walls are aimed at beautifying the building. These are difficult to design and construct and maintain. These types of parapets do not protect privacy. Their purpose is to decorate the buildings. There are different designed openings in the wall depending on the designing of architect.

(4). Composite Parapets:

This type of Parapet is also made for the safety. The difference is, this type of parapet is made up of different types of material. These are similar to the perforated type of Parapets, but still a metallic and well designed grill is used in it. Apart from safety the purpose of this parapet is to beautify the building. Some times hard glass panels are also used in these parapets to give further charm to the building.

(5). Bridge Parapets:

Bridge Parapets are made for providing safety to the vehicles. These are very strong objects made up of steel rods covered with reinforced cement concrete. These parapets are of either of the above types. These may be made up of only metals or may be composite type.

(6). Green Parapets:

In modern advanced metropolitan and cosmopolitan cities these types of safety parapets are used. Special types cladding is installed which is favourable for the growth of plants. These are very attractive and charming designs of parapets.

(7). Grill Parapets:

This type of parapet wall is made up of only a metallic grill. No other engineering work related to architecture is used in designing in this type of parapet. The purpose of this type of parapet is to provide charm to the building. This is very common in USA, Europe and Asia. The advantage of Grill Parapet is, it no massive and easy to clean. While the disadvantage of the Grill Type Parapet is;

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