Historic Homes: How to Choose the Right Roof

Image of historic home

Just like any other part of a house, roofs require maintenance. Not only to remain aesthetically pleasing, but also to serve their intended function. Roofs are essential to preventing water from entering a house as leaks can damage not only your belongings but also the structural integrity of the house. In addition to preventing water leaks, a good roof must allow for adequate ventilation. This prevents a buildup of moisture which can also cause damage. This is especially important in Vancouver which is a city defined by its rainy climate and surrounding rainforests. Vancouverites living in all types of houses have to constantly work to keep water from damaging their homes. So, well-maintained and well-ventilated roofs act as the first line of defence.

Those living in historic homes have to pay even more attention to keeping water at bay as their homes are built using older methods, potentially using fewer waterproof materials, and have had to withstand many more years of battling water damage. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that these homeowners invest in quality roofing materials. And perhaps more importantly, hire experienced roofing companies to replace their roofs when the time comes.

Such a project can prove to be time-consuming and complex – for even the simplest of roofs. So, you’ll want to have the right team helping you preserve your historic home when replacing its roof. This guide will make sure you take into consideration some aspects unique to replacing the roof of a historic home.

Regulations for historic homes

Historic homes are often subject to more regulations than modern homes in order to preserve their historic character. Such regulations can include specifications for the material and style of various components of a house, including its roof. Make sure you consult the appropriate historical authority for your region when performing any maintenance work on your historic home. One place you can start your research is the Government of B.C.’s website.

Historical research

Before embarking on a roof replacement project, it’s a good idea to do some research into the methods and materials used to construct your home’s roof. Documents that might provide helpful information include work orders, receipts, photographs, journals, diaries, original blueprints, insurance surveys, and newspaper clippings. Local historical organizations may also have information relevant to your home.

Historic roofing materials

There are five main types of materials that are used to construct roofs and knowing the exact type used for yours is crucial when replacing it.

#1 Wood shakes/shingles

Wood shingles were one of the most common roofing materials used until the 1800s as it was readily available, especially in much of North America. The Pacific Northwest is known for having a plentiful supply of wood, in particular red cedar (which is also very rot-resistant), so shakes made from red cedar are very common.

It’s important to know the exact type of wood used for your roof when deciding how best to replace it, something experts with knowledge in wood roofs will be able to help with.

#2 Clay tiles

Clay tiles are often featured on homes with a Spanish style of construction. Replicating the shape and colour of historic clay tiles can be challenging, so modern alternatives are often used instead.

#3 Slate tiles

Slate tiles are very rare as clay tiles were often used instead whenever fireproof materials were desired. However, there are still buildings and houses in the region which have used slate tiles on their roofs.

#4 Metal

Metal roofs were originally made with tin or lead sheeting, but eventually copper sheeting was also used. In the late 1800s, metal shingles began to be used in addition to metal sheeting.

#5 Asphalt shingles

The introduction of asphalt shingles in the early 1900s resulted in a drastic reduction in the usage of other roofing materials. Historic roofs with these shingles are much easier to replace and these shingles may be used to replace other roofing materials as well.

Choosing the right roofing company

At Taves Roofing, we have extensive experience with many roofing projects around Vancouver and even offer a unique 50-year warranty on all our projects, demonstrating our commitment to ensuring your historic home has a roof that will last as long as the rest of it.

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