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Roofing and Siding Ideas

The traditional roofing materials are once again widely available today, as are tradespeople who work with them. Wood shingles, clay tile, slate, metal, quarter-sawn clapboards, cement stucco: these materials telegraph the style, character, and quality of the house.

Traditional Roofing 

Red and white cedar shingles are of course the classic material for a bungalow. Look-alikes today include composite shingles made of polymers and fiberglass, as well as metal and concrete shingles. These have an “architectural” or dimensional texture as well as coloring that approaches wood shingles.

shingle “thatch” roof by Custom Cedar Solutions

An English cottage with new shingle “thatch” roof by Custom Cedar Solutions.

Clay roof on a half-timbered manse, traditional roofing

Clay roof tiles newly laid on a half-timbered manse, by Tile Roofs, Inc.

Clay tiles are prized for long life. Depending on style, the pieces may overlap or interlock. English (flat) tiles resemble either wood shakes or slate shingles. Concrete shingles appeared during the early 20th century as a substitute for clay tile, wood, or slate shingles. Slate, another material with longevity, was quite popular ca. 1900-1945 for houses in the English styles, like Tudor Revivals and Cotswold cottages.

Cooper door hood (Paradigm Shingles)

A door hood in copper with period-style support brackets. (Paradigm Shingles)

By the 20th century, metal roofs were usually of galvanized steel, as sheet material or as metal shingles with embossed patterns. Today you can find aluminum and steel roofing with factory-applied coatings that mean you don’t have to paint the roof, as in the old days.

Traditional Siding

Cladding materials varied widely during this period and are not always reliable as a style marker. Craftsman-era houses often follow vernacular tradition, built of brick in Chicago and redwood in California, as examples. Greene & Greene’s Gamble House has board-and-batten siding and Gustav Stickley’s family home in New Jersey is made of logs!

Asian-inspired Craftsman house

Texture comes from the unusual, spaced placement of shingles on an Asian-inspired Craftsman house. 

But there are themes. Prairie houses are often stuccoed, as are English cottages and Spanish Revival dwellings. Tudor Revivals are made of brick. Local stone is often combined with clapboard or shingle siding for bungalows from East Coast to West.

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