Saturday, March 16, 2013

Roofing Options for Historic Buildings

Have you thought much about the choice of roofing for your historic house or building? When it comes time for a new roof, the choice of style or material can make a huge impact on the look of your property.

My first and foremost preference for historic buildings would be if the property happens to retain its original roof, repair it in-kind rather than replacing. Most of the time older roofs can be repaired, unlike asphalt shingle which often must be replaced.

1. Standing Seam Metal

Standing Seam metal is a very durable option for many historic buildings and is on the more affordable side of the range of roofing options. It looks great on farmhouses and agricultural buildings especially. It can be repaired instead of having to be replaced in whole, and should last about 100 years or more if taken care of.

2. Slate

Slate is a very attractive option for historic buildings as long as it is appropriate for the style of the building. It can be costly, but will last for hundreds of years if well maintained and repaired as needed.

3. Terra Cotta Tile

Like slate, Terra Cotta Tile is also extremely durable and will last for hundreds of years if maintained well and repaired in-kind as needed. Most terra cotta roofing has copper trim, wells, gutters, and downspouts to fill gaps and control water flow. Terra Cotta tile is a beautiful option well suited to Spanish, Mediterranean or Mission Revival style buildings and will make a bold impact upon the look of a property.

4. Copper

A copper roof is certainly luxurious and expensive, but has a patina that only gets better with age and can last for hundreds of years if repaired and maintained. Copper can grow thin and suffer from holes due to water damage in spots such as gutters, but many times the holes can be filled or patched with new copper. I especially like the use of copper for accents such as dormer windows, cupolas, and turrets.

5. Wood Shingle

Historically wood shingle roofing is perhaps the most popular early choice of roofing for our Colonial settlers. It works well on older Colonial and Georgian style houses and can last surprisingly longer than you would think, especially if the material used is a wood that is water resistant.

6. Green Roof, anyone?

A Green roof would work well if the roof is flat, especially if there is a bit of a parapet to conceal and contain the vegetation grown on the roof. Buildings suited to this are often civic or commercial buildings located downtown, or Victorian or early-twentieth century storefronts buildings. Occasionally modernist houses possess flat roofs that could possibly be converted into a green roof.

7. Architectural Shingle

Finally, an architectural shingle roof is a nice option that mimics the look of a more expensive slate or tile roof, but is much more affordable for the every day American. It is certainly a step up from the usual asphalt shingle roof and much more appropriate for historic buildings.

Which is your favorite?


  1. I love a standing seam roof. They are so charming. Thanks for this little summary of roofs!

  2. These are all so awesome! I've always loved terra cotta roofs. And my husband is obsessed with green roofs! They are pretty neat :)

  3. Thanks for the suggestions, Megan. I own a 1920s Victorian home and part of what appealed to me when I bought it was the fact that the fa├žade was kept intact. After a few years, a couple of areas (including the roof) are in need of repairs and I’m a little lost when it comes to design. Now, I have a basic idea on what to look for. Thanks again!

    Mariam Freame

  4. Very informative post! Thanks for sharing the different types of roof and the pictures you’ve provided are all remarkable. I truly love it!
    - Lino Kosters

  5. Of course I love green roofs ♥, but I love the charm of older buildings with their original materials.

  6. I love green roofs because they have both aesthetic function and utility. If you want to develop the beauty of your home, you should really build a green roofing system. One downside is that it takes time to fully develop. Still, many landscape designers suggest them to their customers because they make properties eye-catching.

    Lakisha Autin

  7. I really like the one with the grass roof. After doing roofing here in Montreal for a few years, I can say that its so much more efficient than anything else. It just has burdensome upkeep.

  8. I've always loved terra cotta roofs. We recently moved into a new home with a pretty old/weathered one, so after talking with a Hawaii roofing company I think that's the style I've decided on :) can't wait!

  9. I've always loved terra cotta roofs. After moving into a new house with a pretty weathered/beat up one, I talked to a Hawaii roofing company and getting it replaced with shingles of that style. Can't wait :)

  10. I enjoyed reading your blog and found it very informative. keep up the good work.

  11. Well, if you got Brisbane problems, it is better to have an estimate first on how much Brisbane repair will cost you this days. The best solution for that is just a click away

    Jones Roofing Brisbane

  12. Thank you for sharing. It looks like you have a really great company! I will have to recommend you to family and friends in the area.

    Oklahoma city roofing

  13. Proper roofing is an important investment. Residential roofing needs to be installed properly to protect the home's contents and residents from the outside elements. Roofs do more than just keep things inside dry and having the proper materials are important.

    Iko roofing shingles