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Sod roofs: here we illustrate and discuss sod roofing in historic and contemporary use. This website provides un-biased articles about many common roofing materials, installations, inspection, defects, roofing repairs, and products. Our page top photograph shows a traditional sod roof on a historic log cabin preserved at the Romsdalsmuseet site in Oslo, Norway. The Romsdalsmuseet site in Oslo includes 35 Norwegian buildings with designs dating from 1600 to 1920.
The ultimate "green" roof design that caused media excitement when it was popularized anew in 2009 is an old design for which we have literally hundreds of years of design experience. Here are some sod roof design details.
While our page top photograph shows a traditional sod roof preserved on an antique log cabin, our photo at left points out that sod roof designs continue in modern use in some parts of the world including this modern home built in Molde, Norway.
In additional photographs below we show sod roof construction details using both traditional materials (such as birch bark underlayment) and modern materials (such as geotextiles and rubber underlayment).
Sod Roof Edge Termination Details
Our photo of a modern sod roof (above left) shows the use of copper underlayment and edge flashing to hold the soil in place on this relatively low-slope roof. However sod roof covering is also found on steeper slopes. Our photo of a traditional sod roof (above right) shows the use of a wooden board and birch bark as a soil dam as well as a drip edge.
Both of the roofs shown above use an eaves overhang but no roof gutters were present.
However roof gutters were used on traditional sod roofed homes at least over entrances, as we show in this sod roof home photo.
A hand-sawn wooden roof gutter or eaves trough was installed, leaving the ends open as we have shown.
You may also notice the steel spikes nailed into rafter tails to keep the sod roof lower dam in place to prevent soil from sliding off of the roof. Other museum-grade sod roofs in The Romsdalsmuseet site in Oslo used carved wooden pegs in these locations, indicating a time when iron spikes were not readily available. You can see a wooden eaves dam peg in the next sod roof photo (below).
Here is another look at a traditional sod roof, showing gable end design details for a traditional sod roof structure.
Because this roof was found on a restored museum building in Oslo, Norway, the museum restorers have hidden a rubber line under the sod as a step towards longer durability and less maintenance than the traditional birch-bark underlayment would have afforded.
Questions & answers or comments about sod roofs on buildings: history, inspection, maintenance, installation, repair, & current uses of sod roofs.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide, Edmund C. Snodgrass, Lucie L. Snodgrass, Timber Press, Incorporated, 2006, ISBN-10: 0881927872, ISBN-13: 978-0881927870. The text covers moisture needs, heat tolerance, hardiness, bloom color, foliage characteristics, and height of 350 species and cultivars.
Green Roof Construction and Maintenance, Kelley Luckett, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2009, ISBN-10: 007160880X, ISBN-13: 978-0071608800, quoting: Key questions to ask at each stage of the green building process Tested tips and techniques for successful structural design
Construction methods for new and existing buildings
Information on insulation, drainage, detailing, irrigation, and plant selection
Details on optimal soil formulation
Illustrations featuring various stages of construction
Best practices for green roof maintenance
A survey of environmental benefits, including evapo-transpiration, storm-water management, habitat restoration, and improvement of air quality
Tips on the LEED design and certification process
Considerations for assessing return on investment
Color photographs of successfully installed green roofs
Useful checklists, tables, and charts
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Roofing The Right Way, Steven Bolt, McGraw-Hill Professional; 3rd Ed (1996), ISBN-10: 0070066507, ISBN-13: 978-0070066502
Slate Roofs, National Slate Association, 1926, reprinted 1977
by Vermont Structural Slate Co., Inc., Fair Haven, VT 05743, 802-265-4933/34. (We recommend this book if you can find it. It
has gone in and out of print on occasion.)