How to Choose the Best Roof for Your Antique House

Antique house - Victorian

If you are lucky enough to be the owner of an antique house, you know what a challenge it can be to take care of a building like that. On one hand, building standards, and materials in the 19th and early 20th century were sometimes higher.

Many middle-class families had access to fancy millwork. Clay tile and slate roofing were used much more extensively than today. On the other hand, there were fewer building codes and regulations.

Antique buildings are often one-of-a-kind. This can present many engineering and design challenges for anyone who inherits an old structure.

Antique houses and buildings were made with a range of roofing materials. This includes wood shingles, tin or zinc roofing, clay or slate tiles, and sculptural shingles. Sculptural shingles were especially popular in Victorian period houses and buildings you can find in abundance in every small town and big city.

What should you do for roofing when you have an antique house or building? There are many opinions and options out there, so it’s best to go into the process with useful information.

Consult an Architect

If you want the best information about your antique house or building, consulting an architect is the first order of business. Architects are trained in recognizing the styles of historical period building. This can be particularly helpful if you have an old building with a roof that doesn’t fit its style and you want to restore its original beauty. After that, a consultation with a certified roofing contractor will help you determine which material to choose.

Some materials that were used 100 plus years ago aren’t even available anymore. The good news is that there are many more options now to fit many budgets and still preserve the look and feel of your historic building.

Your professional roofing contractor will also evaluate the structure of your old home or building to make sure it can handle the load of your chosen new roofing material.

New Materials With A Historical Look

Tin or Zinc

Some old homes were roofed using these materials which are, frankly, not up to modern building code. Tin or zinc roofing can be mimicked with a standing-seam metal roof. Metal roofing can be quite expensive. However, it never needs to be painted. In addition, it’s quite a bit lighter than asphalt, and it lasts much longer than traditional asphalt.

Clay or Slate Tile

Many old roofs were made of slate. If your slate roof is still intact but in need of repair, it may be worth looking into the repair instead of completely replacing it with asphalt.

Slate and clay tiles are very durable – often able to last for over 100 years if properly maintained. The issue with these types of roofs is almost always in the initial cost. Concrete or synthetic slate tiles can be used in place of either clay or slate and come at a lower price. If properly maintained, these can last almost as long as the real thing.

Is Asphalt Still A Good Option?

The good news here is that asphalt shingles are made in a variety of shapes and sizes now, not to mention colors. You can mimic, with asphalt, the look and feel of almost any architectural shingle or clay tile at a lower price point.

It is possible to get the look you want without paying the enormous cost of an authentic slate roof. This is where your contractor can help. If you choose a reputable, local company chances are good that they have already successfully replaced a roof on many antique houses without compromising style.


If you have questions about a new roof on your antique house or building, or about the different style options available to you, don’t hesitate to call us at Renovations Roofing & Remodeling, Inc. We would be honored to help you find everything you need.

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