Given the prominence of a Foursquare’s dormered pyramid roof, or the low sweep of a bungalow roof, it’s clear that the roofing material may be an important style feature. You really can’t cheat if you have a quaint Storybook house replete with gables and hips, or ocean-wave shingles or a rolled edge. Custom Cedar Solutions specializes in such elaborate roofs. Their patented, steam-bent cedar shingles and shakes are made from 100-percent vertical-grain Western red cedar from the Pacific Northwest, in just about any design.
Untreated shingles usually weather to a soft gray or brown, but traditionally color was often added by way of non-opaque stains in Venetian red, slate gray, or brown-green. Dow’s Eastern white cedar shingles and shakes from Maine are known for their ability to take stain evenly. Family-owned Longfellow’s Cedar Shingles, also in Maine, produces shingles from local cedars. Designed to last 20 to 30 years with proper maintenance, cedar shakes and shingles help insulate, yet allow the roof to breathe (air circulates under the felt on which shingles are laid).
If you need to “thatch” your Cotswold cottage, consider that Endureed has developed a non-flammable, wind- and insect-resistant thatch made of synthetic reeds bound by a metal binder strip. It looks quite like natural thatch, but it’s much easier to install and maintain.
By 1915, more economical asphalt shingles had replaced cedar shakes as the most popular type of period roofing; today asphalt shingles cover probably 75 percent of residential buildings. Today’s material is laminated and may contain fiberglass. Back in the ‘20s, decorative tab profiles included diamonds and hexagons. CertainTeed’s Carriage House shingles give a similar look. Tamko’s Heritage laminated shingles have striking cuts and angular lines that remind us of Storybook shake roofs of the ‘20s and ‘30s. Check out Tamko’s Lamarite composite shingles, made from a mix of fire-resistant limestone and resin, available in scalloped and diamond-cut variations for the look of slate without the weight or difficulty of installation. Easily cut and fastened by a pneumatic nail gun or two corrosion-resistant roofing nails, these come in colors ranging from midnight black and mulberry to a Colonial Revival slate-green.
Slate is the time-honored classic. Thick, irregular courses of colored slate shingles were favored for Tudor Revival and Storybook homes. A graduated slate roof called for the largest shingles at the eaves, with subsequent courses diminishing in size and thickness toward the ridge, lending a greater sense of pitch. Decorative patterns were often added, such as saddle ridges and mitered Boston or fantail hips. To recapture the colorful or variegated slate roofs of the period use New York and Vermont stone such as that from Sheldon Slate. Those looking for something keen and green can consider Greenstone Slate’s solar cell panels; the cells integrate with their Nu-lok grid system.
Clay tiles include S-shaped pan tiles and barrel-shaped Mission tiles as well flat English tiles. Clay-tile roofs are a tradition on Spanish Revival and Mission house. Star Tile Works makes handmade tiles in unique terra cotta colors. Fritz Clay Roof Tiles carries a wide array of decorative colors and designs in matte and glazed finishes. Tile Roofs Inc. has a comprehensive selection of salvaged tiles to match existing roofs, as well as new tiles, with finials and fittings. Dating to Roman times, concrete saw a revival during the Arts & Crafts era. Concrete tiles can be an economical substitute for clay tiles and slate shingles.