A Simple Guide to Choosing Roofing for Historic Homes

Historic homes play a crucial role in any kind of urbanscape. The homes are not just beautiful to look at and comfortable to live in; they are part of the history and heritage of any locality. They exude warmth and charm and form part of the character of any town or city.

Owning a historical home often comes with a great deal of responsibility and maintenance work such as roof restorations which are often subject to strict local regulations. Restorations must often adhere to a certain style and use certain materials so as not to wipe the architectural heritage and historical significance of these homes. You will feel responsibility not just for your family but the rich heritage that the structure represents and there will always be a need to preserve it for all future generations.

One of the biggest restoration projects that you will grapple with when it comes to maintaining your historical home is choosing and installing new roofing on the premises. This is often a costly and very delicate undertaking that requires specialized knowledge and experience along with some dose of tender loving care. Whether you are planning to restore an old tin roof, terracotta tiling, slate roof, asphalt shingles or wood shakes, you may have to come up with a similar looking material that will preserve the architectural heritage of the building. Sometimes, you may be free to deviate and go with a material of your choice but it should still be one that brings out the old home “flavour” while complementing the style of the building.

Finally, choose a roofing specialist with extensive experience in historical homes restorations. Look at their experience and the portfolio of homes that they have worked on in the past.  If you are planning to do a historical home roofing restoration or replacement, here is a simple guide on selecting the best roof for your prized gem of a home:-

Picking the Right Roofing Materials

Picking a roofing material for a historic home can be a bit challenging but it also presents a fresh opportunity to work with various creative roofing options. While some homeowners will go with the original roofing, some might experiment with new roofing options that will give their homes a modern facelift. Here are some of the popular roof options that you can go with in a historic style home:-

  • Slate Roofing: Slate roofing offers a highly attractive roofing option but they can be quite costly. They give the home the classic look because they have the natural stone colour shades. However, they are quite heavy so you will need to reinforce the framework of the roof when planning to install slate roofing which will increase the installation cost. Slate is also a highly durable roofing material. Once installed, it will last for duration of up to 100 years without any extensive maintenance work. The slate roofing style will work well with various historic home styles such as Colonial style homes, Victorian style homes and the French style homes.
  • Synthetic Slate: If you find natural slate too costly, then you can go for the less expensive but equally impressive synthetic slate roofing material. These can be made from a variety of materials including slate that is mixed with resin, virgin rubber or wood fibre. They are most commonly manufactured from petroleum-based products. The material is not only cheaper but also lighter in weight so you can install them without the need of a costly reinforcement of the roof framework.
  • Asphalt Shingles: They offer some of the best value for money if you are looking for quality and affordable roofing option for your historic homes. They are also long lasting. Many homeowners choose them because they give the home a very modern look.  However, in your historic home’s roof restoration work, you may not be after a decidedly modern look. In that case, you may go with the architectural asphalt shingles which are not only thicker than the standard asphalt shingles but can also be laid in a staggered style. Using architectural asphalt shingles will give your roofing extra depth. They are also available in a variety of shapes and styles to suit your individual preferences. These are perfect for roofing that requires darker shingles in order to bring out the look. The architectural asphalt shingles can be used in a host of historic homes such as the Colonial homes, Victorian homes and the Georgian style homes.
  • Wooden shingles and shakes:- Most of the old historic homes had roofing made from timber materials so adding a wooden roofing style would be a perfect replacement if you are carrying out roofing restoration. Fortunately, advances in fabrication processes means you can get high quality and durable wooden shingles and shakes that have been passed through various treatments to give them their unique properties such as strength, fire resistance etc. However, wooden shingles and shakes require occasional maintenance and treatment such as praying them with preservatives and fungicide.

When it comes to wooden roofing, you can opt for either a shingle or shake. Shakes are split on all sides and they give the building a rustic look that perfectly complements the historic building profile. The shingles on the other hand have been sawn on all sides so they have a smoother appearance and would give you roofing a more modern look. Choose wooden roofing derived from timber that age gracefully such as redwood or pine. This will create a beautiful patina on your roofing that recaptures its old style look.

  • Clay Tiles: Clay tiles have been used in roofing for thousands of years and are generally known for their impressive durability. If they don’t break or chip, they will last you over a hundred years. There are also several designs and a spectrum of glaze colours to choose from for your clay tiles. The clay tiles are also energy efficient and have excellent energy resistance.  The tiles have a very strong profile so they will give your home a nice architectural look and feel. The main drawback is that the tiles are quite heavy so you will need to reinforce the roofing framework when carrying out the installations. The tiles can be used in various kinds of historical homes such as the Mediterranean style and the Mission style of homes. They also look good on Cape Cod style homes.

If you are still unsure about the right roofing style to use for your premises, you can contact a historical or heritage homes restoration specialist to advise you on the best options that will beautifully complement your beautiful old home.


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