Historical Roofs: A Challenge and a Commitment
May 23, 2016
Be it a home, a commercial structure, or even a National Historic Landmark, a property with history deserves respect. Historically, roofing materials were made to last, protecting people and property from the elements over a series of decades, not years. But over time, all materials will degrade and allow leaks and air to permeate a structure.
When it comes time to restore a historical roof there are several factors to consider. First is preserving the historical integrity of a building: no one wants to see a tin roof on a centuries-old adobe structure! Other factors include the durability of the repair materials and the overall cost. All are important.
Types of Historical Roofing Materials
The most common historical roofing material in the United States is wooden shingles, also known as shakes. Typically split and cut from log sections known as “bolts,” wood shingles are both visually appealing and relatively long-lasting. Even so, at about 30-50 years in, all wooden roofs begin to crack, leak, and rot and should be evaluated and repaired. Here in the Southeastern U.S., cedar and cypress are commonly used to create any of the dozen or so popular wooden shingle styles.
Stone was another commonly-used historical building material. Both slate and clay tiles are seen on historical roofs across the country, particularly in climates where extreme cold can cause retraction. Unlike wood, stone won’t crack or rot on its own – it usually needs repair when its fasteners wear out or when broken by debris like hail or a tree limb. Stone roofs are incredibly expensive and require a great deal of expertise to install.
Metal roofs, namely copper, tin, and aluminum, were a popular choice in 19th century America. Copper patina, though beautiful, is maintenance-heavy and very expensive. Galvanized metal roofs are frequently seen in rural areas and often installed in large sheets. Stamped metal shingles were expensive and ornate to install, and hardly ever used today, although if regularly painted they can last indefinitely.
Choosing a Historical Roofing Company
Whether you’ve got a craftsman bungalow that needs a roof patch, are the property manager for a Spanish-style church that requires new clay tiles, or even a historical preservationist looking to replace the entire roof of an 1800s homestead, choosing the right roofing company is paramount. Historical roofing preservation and replacement is something that requires decades of experience to perfect.
H&S Roofing & Gutter Company is Charlotte’s preferred historical roofing and gutter repair company. From commercial buildings to historical homes, we’re experts in matching and maintaining aging roofs. Call us today to find out about some of the local historical buildings we service and to learn more about how we can help with your historical property!
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