Parapets are a meeting of function and form in the world of masonry. They are extensions of a wall above the roof line, and serve multiple purposes while offering aesthetically pleasing features to any brick structure.
In the past parapets often served as battlements for the top of castles and walls. They provided a secure and strong position for defending forces to operate from. Today, they serve a number of functions beyond improving what might otherwise be a boring roof line:
Parapets act as a structural brace against wind impact on a roof
They serve as guard rails along roof lines and walkways
Often, they are required on the tops of fire and party walls to meet fire codes
They can hide any roof mounted equipment, such as hvac
If designed correctly, a parapet can also serve to control water flow in order to help protect itself and a wall from water damage. One can often see examples where this process has failed, as water has been allowed to weep down the front of a building, leaving stains below the parapet structures.
This water damage can extend beyond just being an eyesore, as it can begin to weaken the parapet or bricks below it. This is why it is important to have them inspected and repaired correctly, by a professional who knows how to properly cap them to control the flow of water. A weakened parapet can become a dangerous situation on a windy day.
The same goes for parapets on walkways and bridges. These serve as barriers for pedestrian safety, and they need to be strong an intact to do their job. If they are cracked or damaged in any way, they need to be attended to immediately for public safety.
If you're building has parapets that need maintenance, please contact us and we would be happy to assist you!