Dome Roofs – What They Are, History, Pros/Cons, Costs

The dome design has a long history in the construction world and has actually been a style of various types of architecture worldwide. Domes were widely used in the Persian, Roman and Byzantine, as well as the Islamic empires, and even during the Italian Renaissance.

In its basic form, a dome is a hollowed structure in the form of a semi-sphere. Domes progressed from arches, initially being adjusted to little structures such as burial places and huts; nevertheless, as building and construction and style strategies were established, they ended up being used to showcase grand structures, including cathedrals, governmental buildings and, just recently, leisure structures such as sports arena.

What is a Dome Roof?

What is a Dome Roof

A domed roofing system, as the name recommends, is roofing that’s created in the shape of a dome. By taking the engineering and style concepts of the arch and turning them through a 360-degree radius, dome-shaped roofing can be developed.

History of Dome Architecture

Known as “the kings of all roofing,” domes cover a few of our crucial structures. Domes are entirely curved buildings—having no corners nor angles–and they confine a massive quantity of area without the aid of any columns. Regardless of their thin nature, domes are a few of the most structurally sound structures out there today.

Columns necessary for most roofing systems

Prior to domes, buildings were solely rectangle-shaped structures. Almost every ancient structure actually had roofing supported with a grouping of columns. These columns kept the heavy roofing from collapsing, though they left an extremely small space for an open interior area.

Quickly, ancient engineers started to explore arches. By 100 A.D., creative Roman architects turned an arch into a circular shape and found that it became even stronger as a monolithic dome. Afterward, builders began topping Christian churches and Muslim mosques with this dazzling and brand-new style.

Masonry dome

The earliest known domes were made from stone. And the oldest masonry dome, called the Pantheon, weighed so much that engineers sculpted detailed shapes, known as coffers, all along its walls to decrease the weight of the huge structure. They likewise poked a hole, called an oculus, on the top. This hole provided an everyday light show and is still part one of the reasons the Pantheon is so famous.

As people built taller domes, they ended up being much heavier. In 532 A.D., engineers recognized that they might lighten their dome buildings by digging out the areas in between each arch. This style permitted sunshine to enter into the dome but without deteriorating the structure. An example of this style is the Mihrimah Mosque. It was built in 1555 by an excellent designer named Sinan and features 161 windows!

Stress rings

Often, they end up being too heavy. For example, when the dome atop St. Peter’s Basilica started splitting in the 1700s, Vatican engineers connected numerous iron rings, which we now call stress rings, all around it to keep it from collapsing. Their emergency repair worked and became a new technique in dome-building.

Double domes

In the mission for height, creative engineers created a couple of techniques. By the early 15th century, Roman engineers started constructing double domes in one so as to give the impression of even higher building. The US Capitol dome, developed in the year 1793, owes its height to this engineering trick.

The US Capitol is likewise among the first domes to be made from cast-iron ribs prefabricated for the purpose. The change from heavy masonry to these metal ribs in the late 1700s considerably lowered the weight of dome buildings being developed around the globe.

Geodesic dome

A later innovation would alter dome engineering permanently. During the 1950s, an extreme brand-new style– geodesic domes– altered the method engineers viewed dome-building for the very first time in around 2,000 years. Created by American engineer/designer Buckminster Fuller, geodesic domes are partial spherical shaped structures formed from an arrangement of triangles instead of the classic grouping of arches.

Today, you can see geodesic domes in a nearly unlimited range of designs and shapes. Among the most well-known domes on the planet is Disney’s Epcot Center.

A brand-new era of dome structures, geared up with retractable roofing, (the Toronto SkyDome, for example), is becoming a popular option for sports arenas worldwide.

Benefits of Dome Structures

Why choose a dome building? Here are the advantages of erecting a dome home or commercial building.


Standard domes are very efficient structures, comparable to arches. This is because they are self-supporting, stabilized gravity acting upon their weight to keep them compressed into shape. The weight of classic domes produces both a downward and an outward force. The down thrust should be moved to the structures, whilst the outside thrust should be withstood to keep the dome walls from collapsing. The necessary resistance is supplied by the sheer mass of the walls, buttresses, or by a stress reliever such as a border ring, chain, or network of cables.

With the physic nature of this shape, a dome can stand for centuries, and only then will it break down because of the composition of the materials. With the proper upkeep, a dome building could last forever.

Versatility in Building Materials

Domes can be built from a range of materials, from standard masonry and concrete to cast steel, lumber, and iron. Your choice of product will depend on how large you want your dome to be and you want it to look like inside and out.

Open Floor Plan

They have the ability to cover big areas and need no supporting columns, allowing for wide open spaces below. Instead of needing to place walls for support, your choice of where to divide the rooms comes down strictly to your preferences. You’re not limited in any way regarding your floor plan.


You’d think that having a big open space like would cost more to heat or cool. The opposite is true; because of how tightly the materials are compressed in the shell structure, very little temperature changes occur from outside influences. And if you keep the floor plan open as possible, you won’t need to worry about air circulation as much. Every area will be evenly heated and cooled without the need for a complicated duct system.

Low Maintenance

With a dome, you won’t need to worry about replacing shingles or a rusting metal roof. You won’t need to clean out gutters or brush the leaves off your roof. You won’t even have to worry about snow piling up on top. The shape and materials of a dome take care of all that. And besides, a dome is so structurally sound, the only repair work you’ll need to do is spot replacement in case of damages.

Not as Expensive as You Might Think

Building a dome may cost more than other types of roofs simply because it’s a unique type of structure. Not all contractors or experienced with or comfortable erecting this type of building, so you’ll have to employ more of a specialist. That raises the cost.

What lowers the cost is the material. Because domes are such a smart design, they take less material than more traditional buildings. Of course, the cost of material will depend on what you choose to use and how large your building will be.

Downsides of Non-standard Roof Installations

In the extremely managed industry of house building, a roofer might balk at setting up roofing styles that depart from the typical. It might be challenging to comply with regional building regulations as roof products are produced for angular styles.

Putting together arched roofing includes reconfiguring basic structure materials to fit particular curvatures. Some materials and parts might be custom-manufactured for your requirements, though in both cases, expenses of product and labor will increase.

The eccentric aspect might likewise wind up riling next-door neighbors who want their neighborhood to maintain a more standard aesthetic.

The resale worth of your house might be impacted by non-standard dome roofing since purchasers who are about to invest a couple hundred thousand on a brand-new house might choose the familiarity of typical and staid designs.

What Materials are Utilized in a Circular Roofing System?

Throughout time, domed roofing has actually been developed from numerous materials. Stone, adobe, wood, copper, and other metals, plastic, ice, glass, ceramic, fiberglass, and concrete have actually all been utilized to build dome roofing. What your dome will be made of will depend on your environment and chosen aesthetic.

What is the Cost for a Monolithic Dome House?

Monolithic Dome houses are available in all sizes and shapes, so offering specific expenses is usually only done on a project basis. That stated, most companies do have a square-foot rate they charge. This rate can increase or decrease based upon any variety of elements, but it gives you a starting point.

Shell and Flooring Only: The cost is generally $65 per square foot of flooring. This cost is for a Monolithic Dome house built on top of an incorporated concrete flooring.

Finished Dome Houses: These cost around $130 per square foot of flooring. For 1,000 square-feet, a dome house shell would cost approximately $60,000; totally completed, it would cost closer to $130,000.

The very best method to begin the procedure is with a Feasibility Study. It’s an economical method to see YOUR style choice and design digitally modeled with an accurate quote regarding expenses.

Dome Roofs - What They Are, History, ProsCons, Costs