What is a Parapet Wall?

What is a Parapet Wall?

There are some facets of modern homes that although one might not realize it, have had drastically different uses at other points in time.

Perhaps there is no better example of this than the parapet wall.

When one sees a parapet wall on their home, there is probably zero attention paid to it at all, other than looking at it as simply another feature of the home.

A parapet wall is a small wall or rail system whose practical purpose is to prevent those behind it from falling over.

These days, parapet walls can also be worked into the design of the home as a decorative feature.

An illustration of this would be a parapet wall running around the perimeter of a flat roof above an entrance to a home in which there is no door leading out to the roof, perhaps only a smaller window.

Clearly in this instance the intent is not for the roof to be used as a balcony, but instead for the presence of the parapet walls to add to the décor of the home and look totally in place, even though there is no viable purpose for them in this scenario whatsoever.

Parapet walls throughout history have also had a primary existence as a form of protection for those behind them from some type of attack.

When thinking of this type of example, my mind cannot help but drift to a picture in my brain of a medieval town with walls surrounding it, flanked by soldiers around its top ducking behind parapet walls, defending the inner portion of the kingdom, by firing down at an aggressive enemy below who is shooting arrows towards those protecting the settlement.

Although these days we are less likely to be hiding behind a parapet wall to avoid a flesh-seeking arrow, parapet walls in non-decorative situations (those surrounding a functional porch as an example) may still serve as a place of peaceful refuge whenever one might wish to take advantage of it.

Parapet walls are constructed using a variety of different materials.

These can range from wood to metal to glass to masonry and so on…

There are also many different categories as to how parapet walls are constructed.

They can be solid or not solid (where one can see through them).

They can run flat across a roof or even run slanted up a peek of a roof.

In fact, there are so many different ways that parapet walls can be built that I can envision an architect giggling with giddiness anytime they are asked to incorporate one into the design of a building, as the sky is certainly the limit with regard to the creative ways in which parapet walls can be utilized.

Whether non-functional (adding to the ambience of a property) or hyper-functional (helping to protect soldiers warding off seething invaders), parapet walls throughout time have served as useful elements of building design.

As with many items in construction, parapet walls (if done correctly) can be pieces of one’s home that have special significance to them yet are seamlessly woven into the very fabric of home design to the point where they virtually exist unnoticed.

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