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Historic Home Preservation: How To Choose Roofing Materials That Are Appropriate For Your Home's Time Period

Unlike new-build homes, historic homes were built with a lot of architectural details that was carried out through the roof. The result was stunning. Unfortunately, even though they were well crafted, most historic roofs eventually succumbed to the elements and had to be replaced. 

If you have a historic home that needs a new roof, you probably want to stay true to the style of your home since a standard shingled roof often detracts from the style of a historic home and looks odd. But many materials that were used back then are not available now, which means you have to do the best you can. The following are roofing materials that are appropriate for your style of house. 


Wood shingles or planed shakes were commonly used on Colonial homes that were built in the late 1600s and 1700s. Such homes can readily be found in the areas where the original 13 colonies were located, which were strung all along the northeast side of the US. In the northern colonies, Eastern White Cedar was used, whereas Cypress was used in the southern colonies. An appropriate substitute for these materials is Alaskan Yellow Cedar, which develops a silver patina just like the other materials did. 

Greek Revival

Historic Greek Revival homes were probably originally roofed with wooden shingles as well. However, it became common in the 1800s to replace the wooden roofs on these homes with roofs constructed with terne-coated steel or flat-lock tin. These materials are acceptable for restoration. Unfortunately, these types of roofing materials are hard to find and costly as are the roofers that have the experience necessary to work with them. On the bright side, most historic metal roofs don't need to be replaced; they can be repaired, patched and coated over. 

Queen Anne

Queen Anne style houses were roofed with a wide variety of materials, including slate, cedar shingles, copper and clay tiles. So as the owner of a Queen Anne home who is dedicated to preservation, you have a lot of acceptable materials to choose from. There are even architectural shingles on the market that have been constructed to look like slate tiles. 

Before replacing the roof on your historic home, be sure to check with your municipality to see if they have any material requirements. Many towns, especially historic ones, have preservation laws on the books that you have to follow whenever you undertake a project. Contact a local outlet, such as Liberty Exteriors LLC, for further assistance.