A cold roof is roof in which the thermal insulation layer is located between the ceiling joists meaning that everything above the insulation, such as the rafters, and any roof space, will be colder than the living space below it.
When warm, damp air permeates up through the ceiling and reaches the cold roof space, the change in temperature can result in condensation forming. Adequate roof space ventilation must be provided therefore to remove this air. This requirement, and the need for preventative measures to tackle cold bridging, means that warm roofs can be preferable.
A warm roof is one in which the insulation layer is laid on top of roof structure (or above the loft or attic space in the case of pitched roofs) so that the roof structure or roof space is closer to the inside temperature and so the risk of condensation is reduced.
Particular care must be taken when installing loft insulation, as this can convert a pitched roof from a warm to a cold roof. Ventilation must then be provided to prevent the accumulation of moist air and so condensation, as this can cause the roof structure to deteriorate and ultimately to fail.
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