The Right Roof For A Historic House - Arberbiotech

Author : biocos12
Publish Date : 2021-10-18 05:51:11
The Right Roof For A Historic House - Arberbiotech

Owning a historic home can be difficult to restore and maintain, but it's worth keeping its beauty. If you are lucky enough to own a home in a historic neighborhood, you know that there are certain guidelines that you must follow to make sure all the details are correct. The roof is arguably the most important feature in any home because it protects everything underneath. The roof protects the structure of a historic house and all its functions from external influences and the ingress of water.

The main concern of historic homeowners in maintaining their properties is water ingress as it can damage the home in ways that often cannot be fixed. Most of these older houses are made of less durable materials than houses built today, meaning that water ingress has a much greater impact. Typically, if you received the roof in the past, hard work can keep the house in good condition that is suitable for a reasonable period of time. If you carefully perform routine roof inspections and work with qualified local roofing firms from the best roofing companies who have mastered historical techniques, it is very possible to keep your historical home intact.

If you own a historic home, it is likely located in a historic neighborhood, and those neighborhoods have guidelines that must be followed. At Infinite Roofing, we have replaced many of the roofs of historic homes in historic Saratoga Springs neighborhoods and we must adhere to their guidelines. These rules and regulations should preserve important character-defining features of the building as true to the original as possible. The shape of the roof, the materials used and the details all contribute to the historical character of the house. As a roofer, it is our job to research specific guidelines that a city will implement to properly carry out the work. Saratoga Springs has provided guidelines for the historic district design so you know exactly how to preserve the building.

Often times, restoration professionals choose to install a modern roof on a historic home, keeping all the details in the best interests of the property and budget. When working with the best roofing company, they will agree that adding modern materials provides great protection and much less maintenance costs. Adding a new roof also adds value to the house. Always check with the historical authority to see if the materials you plan to use are approved. It is possible to use newer materials while keeping the look of the past. Installing a more modern roof doesn't ruin the architecture, in fact, many newer materials can replicate older styles and details to match the original materials.

The first thing you should do is start by researching the roof type of your historic home. This can take several months, especially if you need historical authority approval. If you have major leaks or other problems, you may need to temporarily raise the roof yourself to protect the house. Whenever you have an area of ​​your roof repaired by your local roofer, make sure they are careful about how they mend it. You don't want them to remove evidence that you may need later, such as: B. an old roof layer under the current one. In this case, it is best not to go for a DIY patch, but to use a roofer with restoration experience.

Check documents

If you have access to documents on the house, such as: B. old pictures, magazines, original plans or newspaper clippings, check them out for ideas on original materials and colors of the roof. This can be helpful in maintaining the integrity of the roof details. An example of this would be if wooden beams were cut at unusual angles or shingles were not installed traditionally. It is important to write down all of the details to share with your local roofing company.


Look at the physical evidence

Try to save all previous materials such as old pieces of wood, nails, and scrap that can be helpful in identifying what type of roofing system has been used. Your local roofer may be able to determine what type of roof was used and what materials were used for an optimal preservation can be exchanged. Choosing a roofer with prior knowledge and experience with restorations is crucial in order to have the best chance of recreating the previous roof of the house.

Consultation with historical organizations

As mentioned earlier, if you own a historic home, chances are it is in a historic neighborhood and within those neighborhoods there are rules and regulations that must be followed. You may face many constraints on what changes you plan to make to the roof of your home. Some other restrictions include building codes, but some areas will have expectations of historic homes. Even if you have to use traditional, available roofing materials, modern underlay materials can often be used. Because it protects the roof better from the weather and is not visible or disturbs the external appearance.

Types of historical roofs

  1. Time style materials used

  2. Pre-Revolution Georgian or Federal Wood Shingles

  3. 18th century federal style wood shingles or slate

  4. 19th century Italian, Greek, Gothic metal, wood, slate

  5. 20th century bungalow, artisan asphalt shingles, slate

  6. Historic roofing materials

You can also search historical roofs on:

  1. Facebook

  2. YouTube

  3. Google

  4. Wikipedia

  5. Twitter

  6. Pinterest

  7. Tumblr

  8. Quora

  9. Reddit

  10. Medium

Material period details

Wood shakes All periods The type of wood used was dependent on the area.

Clay tiles From the 17th century Mainly used where there was a Spanish influence.

18th century slate rarely used due to price and assembly difficulties.

Metal roof 19th century Different styles and materials were used.

Shingles 20th century 3 tab asphalt shingles.

Wood shakes / clapboards

This was the most common historical roofing material in the early days up to the 19th century. The type of wood material used and the techniques varied. So if your house had wood shakes or clapboards, there is more information you need to gather on how to replace it. Wood is the fastest rotting roofing material, so it needs to be treated to make it last a long time.

Adobe bricks

This type of roofing material was mainly used during the colonial era with Spanish influence. When clay was used in the northeast, the tiles were flat compared to traditionally rounded tiles, due to English and French influence. Reproducing the shape and color of old clay tiles can be very difficult. If your house has clay tiles, you may need to explore other materials.


Slate was mined in America from 1785, it was rarely seen on many houses, but it was available. After the development of the railroad, slate expanded and made it much easier to transport the heavy slabs. Due to its limited availability and significant weight, slate has not been a popular choice when compared to wood shakes / clapboards. While it has many advantages, clay tiles are a much cheaper alternative.


Metal was a popular roofing material, but it was very expensive and only lead and copper were suitable at the time. This roofing material was more common in churches and government buildings than in residential buildings. In the 1870s, metal was cut from sheet metal and made into shingles, some had patterns and were mainly used for gable roofs. Metal gained popularity in the 1920s, even as asphalt became popular.

Asphalt shingles

This roofing material was introduced in the 1900s but did not become widely used until the 1920s, the appearance today resembling our 3-tab shingles.

If restoring a historic home with replacement roofing materials is growing in popularity, while some historic societies may vote against it, others agree that protecting the home as a whole is more important. Modern materials ensure a longer roof performance and keep the original structure intact. Finding alternative materials can also be very inexpensive while maintaining the same style of the original roof. Many more homeowners may choose to restore historic homes when the cost and hassle are reduced.

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