Choosing the Right Roof for Historic/Older Georgia Homes

Choosing the Right Roof for Historic/Older Georgia Homes

Whether you're making repairs or looking to reroof your historic or older Georgia home, it's important to do your research so you know what type of roof to install. When you have a historic home, you have to balance the look with functionality. It's important to maintain a period aesthetic, but it is also important to protect the building and its contents from exposure to sun and water.

The roof is the most important part of a home, as it protects it from the elements. However, finding roofing materials that match the historic period and protect well can be difficult. Luckily, there are some shingle alternatives that can help you get the look you want and the protection you need.

The most common traditional roofing materials are wood shingles, slate tile, and clay.


Wood shingles are traditionally made from cedar, oak, pine, or cypress. They have been used throughout American history in all regions of the country. They usually last 25 to 30 years. Unfortunately, they are subject to erosion from exposure to rain and ultraviolet light. They also can hold moisture, allowing moss or fungus to grow, which holds in more moisture and can cause rotting.

The advantages to wood shingles are they are a traditional roof material found throughout the US, a natural material, rustic looking, and they go with any home style.

The disadvantage to wood shingles is that they may not be allowed by the fire code. Always check local code requirements when it comes to choosing your roof material. Some wood shingles are coated with a protective coating to help improve their fire resistance. Coated shingles may be allowed in areas where traditional wood shingles aren't.

There are some alternative roofing materials available that mimic the look of wood. Custom asphalt shingles, called dimensional shingles, can provide a similar look with all the protection of an asphalt roof. Asphalt roofs typically last 20 to 50 years.


Slate roofs were popular in the US during the 1700s and were usually imported from Wales. They are extremely durable and can last over 100 years but are expensive to replace. Victorian homes used the various colors available to form a pattern on the roof. Slate comes in red, green, purple, and blue-gray. After the Civil War homes started using slate from the US, which was of a lesser grade. This softer slate is subject to erosion from airborne chemicals which can cause delamination or breakage. Slate is also susceptible to ice and ice dams.

The advantages of slate are that it is durable, fire-resistant, recyclable, and it has a long life.

The disadvantages of slate are that it's heavy and expensive. It may require additional framing and structural reinforcement when installing a new slate roof.

Alternatives to natural slate include synthetic slate or ceramic tile. Both give the appearance of natural slate at a less expensive cost.


Clay was used in the US in the 1700s in areas of Spanish influence. It's often used with Mission and Spanish Colonial-style homes. It's made from terracotta clay and can last 40 to 50 years. Tiles can be flat or curved. Clay tiles can be damaged if hit by a tree branch or other debris, or if they're walked on improperly. They may also break down during freeze and thaw cycles if they haven't been properly fired.

The advantages of clay are its long life and that it's noncombustible.

The disadvantages of clay are that it's heavy and more expensive than other roofing materials. It may require additional framing or structural reinforcement.

Alternatives to clay include sheet metal and ceramic tiles. Both can be molded to look like authentic clay tiles and are less expensive and lighter.

Before starting any historic roof construction project, it's important to contact a professional roofer. There may be roof design details or roof modifications that need to be made to maintain the historic look of the home. While using traditional materials is best, there are ways to provide the best protection without giving up the historic look.

Findlay Roofing has the experience you need working on historic or older Georgia homes. We can offer affordable options for any home that will keep the aesthetic appeal while not breaking the bank. Contact us today for a consultation.

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Findlay Roofing 4181 Jvl Industrial Park Dr, Marietta, GA 30066 e-mail: sales@roofroof.com