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Historic Roofing

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Asbestos roofing brochure from 1887.

Metal Roofing Brochure from 1909.

Metal Roofing Brochure from 1909.

Historic Roofing Documents on Roof Online

1. Coal Tar Pitch Roofing: Barrett’s Handbook on Roofing and Waterproofing for Architects, Engineers, and Builders – Barrett Manufacturing Co. – (published in 1896, 48 pages).

2. Copper Roofing: Copper Flashings – A Handbook of Data on the Use of Copper As a Flashing Material with Standard Details of Construction and Specifications for Sheet-Copper Work – Copper and Brass Research Association – (published in 1925, 66 pages). 

3. Copper Roofing: Copper Roofings – A Manual – Information for Architects and Roofing Contractors – Copper and Brass Research Association – (published in 1925, 25 pages).

4. Slate Roofing: Slate Roofs – National Slate Association – (published in 1926, 83 pages).

5. Slate Roofing: The Story of Slate – Charles H. Davis – Davis Slate & Manufacturing Company – (published in 1923, 4 pages).

1. General: “Roofing for Historic Buildings” by Sarah M. Sweetser is a great starting point for anyone responsible for the care, maintenance, or repair of a building with an historic roof which must be preserved. On the US National Park Service’s Technical Preservation Services site.

2. Asphalt Shingles: For a brief history of early asphalt shingles, see “Roofing for Historic Buildings – Asphalt Shingles” on the website of the National Park Service.

3. Clay Tile: Not a bad read, even if the article is old: “A Brief History of Roofing Tile Manufacture and Use“, from the website of the National Building Arts Center.

4. Clay Tile: For a description of the clay tile manufacturing process from 1911, see “Mound City Roofing Tile” on the website of the National Building Arts Center.

5. Metal Roofing: “Metals in America’s Historic Buildings – Uses and Preservation Treatments“ provides extensive coverage of the subject – 174 pages – and is well-researched. Available on the website of  the National Park Service. Covers metals from aluminum to zinc.

6. Terra-Cotta: “The Preservation of Historic Glazed Architectural Terra-Cotta” is a good introduction to architectural terra-cotta, and also covers maintenance and repair techniques. Available on the US National Park Service’s Technical Preservation Services site.

7. Tile RoofingHistoric and Obsolete Roofing Tile – Preserving the History of Roofing Tiles* by Vincent H. Hobson and Melvin Mann. Described as “(t)he only reference book ever compiled addressing the identification of old, historic and obsolete roofing tiles.”

8. Wood Shingles: If you have a few minutes, take a look at this video where traditional tools are used to produce wood shakes. It’s a pleasure to watch: “Making Roof Shingles With Hand Tools“.

9. Wood Shingles: “Fabricating and Installing Side-Lap Roof Shingles in Eastern Pennsylvania” by James Houston and John N. Fugelso, from 2008, is a terrific article, hugely informative. Available on the website of the Association for Preservation Technology International.