4 Classic Colonial Style Roof Options

Colonial Roof Styles

Classic colonial homes range from the simple streamlined designs of Postmedieval English homes to the complexities and stately columns of Early Classic Revival. In between these two bookend styles, the characteristics that define colonial homes include a range of roof styles and roofing materials.

4 Classic Colonial Roof Styles Options

Traditional Materials

Traditional colonial roof materials included cedar and slate. Cedar could be found in abundance in the woods surrounding the colonies and could be split into rough squares and attached to the roof. Slate use began after the first quarry opened the U.S. in 1785 and continued to rise in popularity until the early 1900s when a decline in skilled labor and the manufacturing of alternate materials, like asphalt shingles, grew. Spanish barrel tiles were popular on Spanish missions and were formed by shaping clay over a log to give it a barrel shape.

Through mass manufacturing and a focus on affordable materials, roof design moved away from the beauty of traditional shingles, especially given their downsides. Cedar shake, slate, and clay shingles are heavy, and add extra structural stress to a building that requires additional structural support to hold the roof.

Traditional cedar shake shingles require regular maintenance that includes painting or staining and sealing every few years. Cedar shingles can also deteriorate as a result of exposure to the elements and ultraviolet light, and are prone to mold and mildew growth over time.

Slate roof tiles are incredibly heavy, weighing between 800 to 1500 pounds per hundred square feet compared to 230-430 pounds per hundred square feet for asphalt shingles. They also have a tendency to chip or flake over time.

Clay tiles are incredibly long-lasting if properly maintained, but they can also become brittle and break over time. They are difficult to install, so a trained professional must be hired to complete any maintenance or repairs.

A Better Alternative

The invention of synthetic shingles gave Colonial style homes a new life. These lightweight materials make it easier to achieve a Colonial style look but without the downsides of traditional materials.

Brava offers Cedar Shake, Old World Slate, and Spanish Barrel Tiles made with recycled material for a sustainable product that can also be recycled when the roof needs to be replaced. They are maintenance-free and come with a 50-year limited warranty, so you won’t have to worry about that for quite some time.

Classic Colonial Roof Styles


Classic Colonial Roof Styles - Gambrel

Gambrel roofs were common on Georgian style colonial homes and were used to extend the livable space under the roof. The steeply pitched sides and near level top create space for storage or additional rooms. Dormers set into the gambrel roof allow more light to enter the space, and the roof balustrade — the railing around the uppermost part of the roof — became more common in Georgian homes built after 1750.

The steep pitch of the lower part of the roof can make hanging traditional shingles difficult and put additional stress on heavy materials, like traditional cedar shake or slate roof tiles. Luckily, synthetic shingles are up to the challenge.


Classic Colonial Roof Styles - Gable

A simple side-gabled roof is one of the most classic rooflines. These classic colonial homes often feature steeply pitched roofs and a central or end chimney. Dormers create additional space and allow more light into the upstairs space. In keeping with the classic colonial style, cedar shake roof tiles are often used. Synthetic cedar shake shingles create this classic look, but without the downsides of natural cedar.

Dutch Gable

Colonial Roof Styles - Dutch Gable

Dutch gable roofs feature a flared gambrel roof, a style that Georgian colonial homes later simplified into a gambrel roof. This more complex roofline allows water and debris to slide off easily and gives the home an old world appearance. In a blending of styles, this Dutch gable roof features Spanish barrel tiles more commonly seen in Spanish Colonial homes.


Colonial Roof Styles - Hip

A hip roof features an inward slope that meets at a seam. Traditional pyramid hip roofs consist of four sides that meet in a point at the top, but the variations of hip roofs are endless. Hip roofs offer the benefit of having more living space underneath.

Choose Brava For Your Classic Colonial Roof

Brava’s synthetic roof tiles are the best choice for a classic colonial roof. Our maintenance-free roof tiles offer superior authenticity and are manufactured to replicate traditional materials as closely as possible, but without the downsides.

Lightweight roof tiles reduce installation time and labor costs and decrease the amount of roof maintenance that needs to be conducted on traditional roofs.

Contact the experts at Brava today to discuss roof options for your classic Colonial roof.