Historic churches and buildings stand as timeless monuments, each telling a unique story of the past. The challenge with these buildings is maintaining and preserving them for future generations. Among the many concerns, roofing proves to be a critical aspect that demands careful attention. In this blog post, we will address specific challenges related to roofing historic churches and buildings and offer insights into preservation techniques and materials.

Age and Decay:

  • Historic buildings often display age-old craftsmanship, but the artisans of the past may have employed materials that are now outdated or prone to decay. Roofing materials, in particular, may have weathered decades of exposure to the elements, leading to deterioration.

Architectural Complexity:

  • Many historic churches and buildings exhibit intricate architectural designs. Roofing these structures requires a nuanced approach, as the roofing system must seamlessly integrate with the existing design without compromising its historical integrity.

Material Scarcity:

  • Traditional materials used in historic construction might no longer be readily available. Finding suitable replacements that match both aesthetically and functionally can be a considerable challenge.

Roof Preservation Techniques:

Document and Assess:

  • Before initiating any preservation efforts, conduct a thorough documentation and assessment of the existing roof. This includes identifying the original materials, understanding the structural condition, and documenting any areas of concern.

Historically Accurate Repairs:

  • When repairing or replacing roofing elements, strive for historical accuracy. Utilize materials that replicate the original ones as closely as possible. This not only preserves the authentic look but also ensures compatibility with the rest of the structure.

Conservation Treatments:

  • You can apply conservation treatments to existing roofing materials to extend their lifespan. This may involve applying protective coatings, consolidants, or other treatments to combat decay without compromising the historical appearance.

Materials for Historic Roofing:


  • Copper has been a traditional roofing material for centuries. It’s durable, corrosion-resistant, and develops a distinctive patina over time. While it may be more expensive initially, its longevity and aesthetic appeal make it a worthwhile investment for historic structures.


  • Slate roofing earns recognition for its elegance and durability. It can last for over a century and complements the aesthetic of many historic buildings. Replacing damaged slates with new ones that match the color and texture ensures a seamless integration.

Wood Shingles or Shakes:

  • People commonly used wood shingles or shakes, often made from cedar or redwood, in historic roofing. These materials offer a rustic charm and can be an appropriate choice for preservation efforts, especially in regions where they were historically prevalent.

Synthetic Materials:

  • In cases where traditional materials are scarce or cost-prohibitive, modern synthetic materials can be considered. These materials are designed to mimic the appearance of traditional roofing while offering improved durability and weather resistance.

Preserving the roofs of historic churches and buildings is a delicate balancing act between maintaining authenticity and implementing necessary repairs. Documenting, assessing, and using historically accurate materials are crucial steps in ensuring that these architectural wonders stand the test of time. By employing preservation techniques and carefully selecting appropriate roofing materials, we can contribute to the longevity and continued beauty of our rich historical heritage. As stewards of the past, it is our responsibility to safeguard these structures for generations yet to come.