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I'm writing a paper about flat roofs. I wanted to use the term "walkable roof" to describe a roof that can be used on a daily basis (e.g. a roof terrace), but I'm not sure if this term exists in English language? What name would you suggest for this type of a roof?

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  • Google "walk-on": maybe that fits the bill. – JavaLatte Mar 27 '16 at 18:14
  • It's perfectly valid terminology, though it likely does not carry the specific connotation you seek. – Hot Licks Mar 27 '16 at 18:31
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    There's the widow's walk, but that's just a smallish platform on top of a peaked roof. – Joe L. Mar 27 '16 at 19:13
  • I think the technical term is either a deck roof, or a roof deck. One of them is a roof which simply covers an outdoor deking area. The other may be a roof which is 'walkable'. – WS2 Mar 27 '16 at 19:17
  • Thanks for the suggestions. Maybe the photo will help. This is the "walkable" roof I was referring to (opposed to a "not walkable'' roof that is covered with gravel). – Jessie Mar 27 '16 at 19:26
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As a former building contractor (and native speaker of North American English) I would say that the term "walkable roof" does exist, but does not have the meaning that you want.

"Walkable roof", particularly in trade jargon would mean "a roof that is not too steep to walk on"; ie. slope is less than 8 inches rise (or so) over each horizontal foot. More likely to be used in reference to a roof with some slope than a totally flat one.

eg. "The roofers are replacing our roof; as it is not walkable, they are building scaffolding all around our house!"

I would call the type of roof shown in the photo a "rooftop patio".

  • Good answer. Another term that I see multiple times in Google Books search results is "paved roof" (or "paved roof deck" or "paved roof terrace"). – Sven Yargs Mar 27 '16 at 21:55
  • Thank you! So, if I understood correctly - In English there is not one word that can describe paved type of a roof and one that is describing roof covered with gravel (or something else, but not paved)? Two opposite terms for describing two types of flat roofs. – Jessie Mar 27 '16 at 22:06
  • @Jessie - A "walkable" roof isn't even guaranteed to be flat -- just no so steep that one can't readily walk on it. – Hot Licks Mar 27 '16 at 22:40
  • @Jessie - In North America anyways, types of flat roof are normally named by the type of material making up the watertight layer -- so you could have for example a "tar & gravel", EPDM (synthetic rubber) or "torch-on" (a rolled asphalt product) roof. Any of these types can be finished with concrete pavers or other surfaces to make them more friendly to human traffic, but one wouldn't normally name the roof according to this factor. It's kind of an ancilliary feature to the roof itself. "Paved roof" as Sven suggests would make sense, or maybe "livable space"? Concrete roof deck? – jkf Mar 29 '16 at 5:31

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