Tips for Choosing the Right Roofing Material for a Historic Home

There is a certain sense of responsibility that comes with owning a historical home. The beauty and appeal of the architecture that has survived for decades needs to be preserved for the future, which requires regular maintenance. Much of the maintenance will take place on the exterior of the home where the sun will exert its greatest energy and cause the most damage.

Tips for Choosing the Right Roofing Material for a Historic Home

The process of preservation and restoration will usually start with the roof, since the roof ensures that the rest of the home maintains its integrity for decades to come. It is critical that the new roof match the time period of the original construction and that the new material take advantage of the technological advances that have been made in the roofing industry in the last 20-30 years. Brava Roof Tile is a leader in the synthetic roofing industry and their products will match many historic roofing materials while providing additional years of useful life.

What Roofing Materials Were Used on Historic Homes?

Most homes that were built in the late 1800s and early decades of the 20th century had sawmill cut 1x4, 1x6 or 1x8 as the deck material on the rafters. The actual roofing materials may have been:

  • Wood
  • Slate
  • Clay
  • Asphalt shingles, after 1915

However, the majority of homes would have had wood shingles, as it was the least expensive and most-readily available.

If you are trying to match the original historic roofing shingles on your home and there are no records available, try checking the attic for extras that may have been left behind, or look beneath the existing roof covering where two roofs meet to see if there are any remnants visible. If there is no available evidence, then it is recommended to choose a simple roof tile that would be appropriate for the style of your home.

If your house has clay tile, slate or wood shakes, and they need replacing, you should consider using Brava’s synthetic roofing tiles due to the many advantages they provide over traditional natural roofing products.

Consider Using A Substitute Roofing Material

Wood Shingles

Many historic home roofing shingles were made of wood and the style of those shingles would’ve been split cedar shakes. Cedar shakes were very popular starting in the late 1800s and have remained so ever since, primarily due to the availability of raw resources used to produce them.

Consider Using A Substitute Roofing Material

Eco-sensitive homeowners are looking for products that will help preserve the forests and cut down on landfill usage. Brava has an alternative to replace your old wood shingles that is made from 100%-recycled material and is fully recyclable.

Brava Cedar Shake is a synthetic roof tile that will provide the authentic look and rustic charm of real wooden shakes while also providing these additional benefits:

  • Nearly unlimited color options
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to install - no special tools required
  • Virtually maintenance-free
  • 50-year limited warranty
  • Class A fire resistant
  • Class 4 impact resistant


In the U.S., owners of extraordinary homes have used slate roofing since the mid 1800s. Virtually unfading and weather-resistant, slate resists fire, rot and handles severe weather better than most natural roofing products. However, for all it’s advantages, natural slate may not be an option for your historic home.

  • It is extremely heavy, your older roof structure may not be able to handle the weight of a slate roof.
  • Availability - Depending on where you live, slate may not be easily available.
  • Professional installers are required to ensure that the job is done right.
Slate Tiles

To maintain the look of the original historic roofing, consider a synthetic slate alternative that looks like slate but has none of the disadvantages: Brava Old World Slate. It will give your roof the look of freshly quarried tile, and has:

  • A 50-year limited warranty
  • No need for a special substructure
  • The ability to have multiple colors (only synthetic tile to offer this)
  • The ability be walked on without fear of breaking tiles

Barrel Tiles

Clay roofing tiles have a history that goes back at least 10,000 years. In the U.S., clay roof tiles were known to be used on homes of the settlers of Jamestown. Clay was easily resourced and able to be turned into roofing with a minimum of investment. Historic homeowners in the south and the west will find that clay was used on many homes, particularly those with Mediterranean design features, and will want to replace their worn roofs with the same look.

However, like natural slate, clay is extremely heavy, expensive to install, and requires a professional service to perform maintenance. Brava Spanish Barrel Tiles give the rolling look of a beautiful clay roof without the issues that come with clay. Brava’s synthetic barrel tile:

  • Is lightweight and easy to install
  • Has a Class 4 impact rating and a 188+ MPH wind resistance with ring shank nails - highest in the industry
  • Is available in almost any color, and the color goes all the way through the tiles
  • Can be nailed or screwed
  • Is 3rd-party tested and Miami-Dade County approved
Brava Roofing Tiles Give Historic Homes The Edge

Brava Roofing Tiles Give Historic Homes The Edge

Maintaining and preserving the roof on your historic home is a priority and the roofing tiles that will give you the greatest value for the money you invest are available at Brava. We:

  • Help maintain the historic look of your home
  • Have a 50-year limited warranty
  • Are available across the U.S. and Canada
  • Are recognized as leaders and innovators in the industry
  • Are made from 100%-recycled material that can be recycled again
  • Are lightweight and easy to install

Brava puts customers first, and we provide PDF and video instructions on their website to make sure or your roofer understands how to properly install their tiles. We offer free samples and have a professional customer service staff that can be reached at 844-290-4196. Contact us today to get your free samples.