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Repairing a Barrel Vault Porch Roof

A popular motif in Classical architecture, barrel vault ceilings were first developed and used by the Sumerians in southern Mesopotamia in 2000 BC, and were subsequently copied by the Egyptians. We often think of them as Roman because they were employed extensively in Ancient Rome for large scale stone structures such as cisterns and aqueducts and as part of major buildings such as the Colosseum.

A barrel vault is also called a tunnel vault, wagon vault or wagonhead vault. This architectural element is formed by the extrusion of a single curve (or pair of curves, in the case of a pointed barrel vault) along a given distance. A vaulted ceiling shifts the weight load around the profile of the arch to the abutments, jambs, or piers on either side. The arch is stable because of this weight pushing down on the sidewalls, evenly balanced through the form, and in this case, the single porch pillar.

Vaulted ceilings are popular in shopping malls and commercial centers because it keeps shopper’s eyes moving from one side of the enclosed space to the other. Barrel vaults are also used in museums and upscale homes because they resonate Classical architectural themes which appear sophisticated in today’s more linear world.

A barrel vault is the simplest form of a vault or vaulted ceiling because it’s essentially one single continuous archway. Barrel vaults are employed to catch the eye and soften the edges of a room or entrance and to make it appear larger and more voluminous. Eastview carpenters are proud to create and repair such eye-fetching shapes, although many of us will have sore backs afterwards because it means working over-your-head for a few days.

Eastview Homes did Emergency Carpentry to Save the Vaulted Ceiling of an Exterior Front Porch

The front porch’s concave roof is unique in the neighbourhood and a big part of what makes this house so attractive. This curious element adds curb appeal and a touch of Classical style. But absent annual maintenance, the eves troughs and downspouts became clogged and there developed a leak which allowed rainwater to enter the woodwork. The water pooled on both sides of the arched ceiling and the wooden wings became unstable. The rot threatened the viability of the entire structure as the single porch pillar was also damaged and decaying fast because of the roof leak. Eastview Homes was called-in to save the barrel because this portion was as yet undamaged.

The first thing Eastview did was tear away the rotten wood and perform surgery to shore up the beams and trusses and seal the leak. You can see our roofing experts on site applying their hot tar remedies in the photo below.

Eastview rebuilt the unpinning and replaced the ceiling one slate at a time. Some fine carpentry happened with precise measurements, acute angled cuts and synthetic sealants to make waterproof joints. When the ceiling was complete we replaced the porch pillar and handrail and rehung the light fixture. The entire structure will soon be painted grey to match the exterior of the home, so just the uniquely arched shape will be the attraction.

Do you have a crises requiring Eastview Home’s emergency carpentry service? Call the number above.

About Eastview Homes

Eastview Homes has been transforming Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga houses into personalized luxury homes for twenty years.

We offer home consultation, effective design services and professional construction solutions. We specialize in large scale remodeling projects, custom homes, additions, or structural improvements to existing houses.

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Mississauga, Oakville & Burlington