Guide to Roof Age, Style, & Choices of Roofing Materials
Determinng the Age of a Building
- ROOFING MATERIALS, Age, Types - CONTENTS: This building roof architectural style & materials photo guide and text help determine the age of a building roofing materials & styles. Building component age: construction materials, methods, including hardware, saw cuts, and other details can help determine when a building was constructed or when it was modified.
- POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to estimate building age from its roofing architectural style and materials
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Roof age & architectural style guide: Here we provide a photo guide and a series of detailed descriptive articles that offer guidance in determining the age of a building and its roof by examination of the choices of roofing materials as well as the building roof architectural style.
The age of a building or its individual components can sometimes be determined quite accurately by documentation, but when documents are not readily
available, visual clues such as those available during a professional home inspection can still determine when a house was built by examining its components, building materials, even nails, fasteners, and types of saw cuts on lumber.
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Roofing Materials as Indicators of Building Age
Wood shingle roofing has been in use for hundreds of years in the U.S. and Europe.
But an inspection of
interior and exterior roofing details can indicate the probable age of a wood roof (which can last up to
40 years) as well as the roofing history of the building, the number and types of roofing layers, and related
The wood shingle roof shown in the photo below is on a building in Key West, Florida,
adjacent to the Hemingway house, viewed from the Key West tower. Notice the absence of lichens on the
wood shingles in the roof area below the metal-flashed rooftop tower?
We discuss here various roofing materials (Wood, slate, asphalt shingles (in several generations),
clay tile, metal roofing (several styles and generations), and how they assist in finding The age of a building below.
History and Dates of Use of Various Roofing Materials
This article explains the eras of use of different types of roofing materials as an aid to understanding the history and age of buildings
If you are trying to determine the age and condition of a particular roof covering, please
see AGE OF ROOFING.
If you need to see a complete index to articles describing all types of building roofing materials & methods
see ROOFING INSPECTION & REPAIR
Cement Board & Fiber Cement Roofing Products
Exterior Siding & Roofing Using Asbestos Cement included asbestos cement shingles, asbestos cement siding, corrugated asbestos-cement roofing.
Other fiber cement materials used in construction included
Modern Cement Board & Fiber Cement Products
Cement board is a non-structural building sheathing material which in its contemporary form is made from Portland cement covered with a reinforced fiberglass mesh fabric. Cement board is used as a tile backer or a backer board for stucco applications on buildings. Current producers include Custom Building Products (WonderBoard™) and US Gypsum (Durock™).
Panels made of a mixture of cement and wood fibers are produced for building siding by James Hardi (Hardi-panel and Cemplank™), and CertainTeed (Weatherboard™).
Clues to building age include these examples which we expand and detail in text and articles below, at page left, and at More Reading at the end of this article.
Visual clues pointed out by a home inspector or available to any careful building inspector
can help indicate the age of a building.
In addition to examining the roofing material, a look at roof framing, lumber marks, even types of fasteners all can relate the roof age to the building age and give information about both. More examples of this approach to identifying building architectural style, roof style, roof age and building age are in these articles:
- Architectural style, decorations, trim, building components - our introductory material is at ARCHITECTURE, STYLE, & Building Age.
For detailed guides, see the articles and text organized at ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING COMPONENT ID
- NAILS & HARDWARE, AGE Construction fasteners, nails, screws, the use of treenails or pegs
in post and beam framing, and fasteners such as roofing nails and screws used, hardware: window and door hardware, hinges, doorknobs, door pulls, latches
- ROOFING MATERIALS, Age, Types, asphalt shingles, stone roofs, slate roofs, tile roofs, wood shingle and shake roofs, built up roofing ("tar and gravel roofs"), modified bitumen roofs, EPDM and other membrane roof coverings
- SAW CUTS, TOOL MARKS, AGE,
hand hewn adze marks or even the type of saw cut marks on framing lumber
Keep in mind that even when we can identify specific types of building materials and building methods, precise dating of
the time of construction of a building remains difficult: old building materials were often re-used, so beams, siding, and other
components may appear in a building built later than when the materials were first made.
Also, in the U.S. various
states had machines for making cut nails, screws, and sawmills at different times. For example, New York State was industrialized
earlier than some western or southern states, so machine-made nails appear earlier in New York than elsewhere.
Continue reading at ROOF ARCHITECTURAL STYLES or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Or see AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
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ROOFING MATERIALS, Age, Types at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.
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Technical Reviewers & References
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- Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
- John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. He is also a contributor to InspectApedia.com in several technical areas such as plumbing and appliances (dryer vents). Contact Mr. Cranor at 804-747-7747 or by Email: email@example.com
- Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides:
- Commercial Building Inspection Courses - protocol ASTM Standard E 2018-08 for Property Condition Assessments
- Home Inspection Education Courses including home study & live classes at eleven colleges & universities.
- Home Inspection Education Home Study Courses - ASHI@Home Training 10-course program.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
- The Home Reference Book, a reference & inspection report product for building owners & inspectors.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
- The Home Reference eBook, an electronic version for PCs, the iPad, iPhone, & Android smart phones.
Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter inspectaehrb in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
- The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors.
Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
- The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones.
- Thanks to reader Kathy Bohon for suggesting using various sources of public records to determine the age of a home, 7/30/2009.
- Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, have provided us with (and we recommend)
Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates' Technical Reference Guide to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment ($69.00 U.S.). Technical Reference Guide, Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates, Ltd., 120 Carlton St. Suite 407, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 4K2 Canada, ISBN 1-895585-90-2 165pp.
- America's Favorite Homes, mail-order catalogues as a guide to popular early 20th-century houses, Robert Schweitzer, Michael W.R. Davis, 1990, Wayne State University Press ISBN 0814320066 (may be available from Wayne State University Press)
- American Plywood Association, APA, "Portland Manufacturing Company, No. 1, a series of monographs on the history of plywood manufacturing",Plywood Pioneers Association, 31 March, 1967, www.apawood.org
- Asbestos products and their history and use in various building materials such as asphalt and vinyl flooring includes discussion which draws on Asbestos, Its Industrial Applications, D.V. Rosato, engineering consultant, Newton, MA, Reinhold Publishing, 1959 Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 59-12535 (out of print).
- Building Research Council, BRC, nee Small Homes Council, SHC, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, brc.arch.uiuc.edu. "The Small Homes Council (our original name) was organized in 1944 during the war at the request of the President of the University of Illinois to consider the role of the university in meeting the demand for housing in the United States. Soldiers would be coming home after the war and would be needing good low-cost housing. ... In 1993, the Council became part of the School of Architecture, and since then has been known as the School of Architecture-Building Research Council. ... The Council's researchers answered many critical questions that would affect the quality of the nation's housing stock.
- How could homes be designed and built more efficiently?
- What kinds of construction and production techniques worked well and which did not?
- How did people use different kinds of spaces in their homes?
- What roles did community planning, zoning, and interior design play in how neighborhoods worked?
- "An Example of Colonial Paneling", Norman Morrison Isham, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 5 (May, 1911), pp. 112-116, available by JSTOR.
- Manufactured & Modular Homes: Modular Building Systems Association, MBSA, modularhousing.com, is a trade association promoting and providing links to contact modular builders in North America. Also see the Manufactured Home Owners Association, MHOAA, at www.mhoaa.us. The Manufactured Home Owners Association of America is a National Organization dedicated to the protection of the rights of all people living in Manufactured Housing in the United States.
- Re-Bath, tub lining products is a bath tub relining manufacturer and distributor located in Tempe, Arizona - see rebath.com
- Pergo AB, division of Perstorp AB, is a Swedish manufacturer or modern laminate flooring products. Information about the U.S. company can be found at http://www.pergo.com where we obtained historical data used in our discussion of the age of flooring materials in buildings.
- Plank House Construction: webslog from plankhouse.wordpress.com/2009/01/25/plank-house-construction/ and where plank houses were built by native Americans, see
Large 1:6 Scale Plank House Construction / P8094228,
Photographer: Mike Meuser
06/12/2007 documented at yurokplankhouse.com where scale model Museum quality Yurok Plank Houses are being sold to raise money for the Blue Creek - Ah Pah Traditional Yurok Village project.
- Scott C. LeMarr has provided his file of keys to decode Furnace and Water Heater Age from the data provided on the manufacturer's equipment labels. Mr. LeMarr is
a professional home inspector, Certified Professional Inspector/President,
MASTER Indoor Environmental Specialist (MIES).
Vice President of Wisconsin NACHI. He and his company, Honest Home Inspections, LLC. can be reached at
262-424-5587 or by email to email@example.com
- Weaver: Beaver Board and Upson Board:
Beaver Board and Upson Board: History and Conservation of Early Wallboard, Shelby Weaver,
APT Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 2/3 (1997), pp. 71-78, Association for Preservation Technology International (APT), available online at JSTOR.
- What Style Is It?: A Guide to American Architecture, Rev., John C. Poppeliers, S. Allen Chambers, Wiley; Rev Sub edition (October 6, 2003), ISBN-10: 0471250368, ISBN-13: 978-0471250364
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
- The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
- Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss. John Wiley & Sons, 2006. ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, Hardcover: 320 pages, available from Amazon.com and also Wiley.com. See our book review of this publication.
- Decks and Porches, the JLC Guide to, Best Practices for Outdoor Spaces, Steve Bliss (Editor), The Journal of Light Construction, Williston VT, 2010 ISBN 10: 1-928580-42-4, ISBN 13: 978-1-928580-42-3, available from Amazon.com
- The Journal of Light Construction has generously given reprint permission to InspectAPedia.com for this article. All rights and contents are ©Journal of Light Construction and may not be reproduced in any form.
- Asphalt Roofing Residential Manual,
- Building Pathology, Deterioration, Diagnostics, and Intervention, Samuel Y. Harris, P.E., AIA, Esq., ISBN 0-471-33172-4, John Wiley & Sons, 2001 [General building science-DF] ISBN-10: 0471331724
- Building Pathology: Principles and Practice, David Watt, Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (March 7, 2008)
- Concrete Folded Plate Roofs, C. Wilby PhD BSc CEng FICE FIStructE (Author), Butterworth-Heinemann, 1998, ISBN-10: 0340662662, ISBN-13: 978-0340662663
- Concrete Shell Roofs, C. Wilby PhD BSc CEng FICE FIStructE (Author),
- Concrete Dome Roofs (Longman Concrete Design and Construction Series),
- Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide, Edmund C. Snodgrass, Lucie L. Snodgrass, Timber Press, Incorporated, 2006, ISBN-10: 0881927872, ISBN-13: 978-0881927870. The text covers moisture needs, heat tolerance, hardiness, bloom color, foliage characteristics, and height of 350 species and cultivars.
- Green Roof Construction and Maintenance, Kelley Luckett, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2009, ISBN-10: 007160880X, ISBN-13: 978-0071608800, quoting: Key questions to ask at each stage of the green building process Tested tips and techniques for successful structural design
Construction methods for new and existing buildings
Information on insulation, drainage, detailing, irrigation, and plant selection
Details on optimal soil formulation
Illustrations featuring various stages of construction
Best practices for green roof maintenance
A survey of environmental benefits, including evapo-transpiration, storm-water management, habitat restoration, and improvement of air quality
Tips on the LEED design and certification process
Considerations for assessing return on investment
Color photographs of successfully installed green roofs
Useful checklists, tables, and charts
- Handbook of Building Crafts in Conservation, Jack Bower, Ed.,
Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, NY 1981 ISBN 0-442-2135-3 Library of
Congress Catalog Card Nr. 81-50643.
- Historic Preservation Technology: A Primer, Robert A. Young, Wiley (March 21, 2008)
- Historic Slate Roofs : With How-to Info and Specifications, Tina Skinner (Ed), Schiffer Publishing, 2008, ISBN-10: 0764330012
, ISBN-13: 978-0764330018
- Low Slope Roofing, Manual of, 4th Ed., C.W. Griffin, Richard Fricklas,
McGraw-Hill Professional; 4 edition, 2006, ISBN-10: 007145828X, ISBN-13: 978-0071458283
- Roof failure causes in depth (and specific methods for avoiding them)
- Roof design fundamentals and flourishes, based on voluminous industry research and experience
- New technologies and materials -- using them safely and correctly
- Comprehensive coverage of all major roofing systems
pecifications, inspection, and maintenance tools for roofing work
- Metal Roofing, an Illustrated Guide, R.A. Knowlton , [metal shingle roofs],
- Problems in Roofing Design, B. Harrison McCampbell, Butterworth Heineman, 1991 ISBN 0-7506-9162-X (available used)
- Roofing The Right Way, Steven Bolt, McGraw-Hill Professional; 3rd Ed (1996), ISBN-10: 0070066507, ISBN-13: 978-0070066502
- Slate Roofs, National Slate Association, 1926, reprinted 1977
by Vermont Structural Slate Co., Inc., Fair Haven, VT 05743, 802-265-4933/34. (We recommend this book if you can find it. It
has gone in and out of print on occasion.)
- The Slate Roof Bible, Joseph Jenkins, www.jenkinsslate.com,
143 Forest Lane, PO Box 607, Grove City, PA 16127 - 866-641-7141 (We recommend this book).
- Slate Roofing in Canada (Studi4es in archaeology, architecture, and history),
- Smart Guide: Roofing: Step-by-Step Projects, Creative Homeowner (Ed), 2004, ISBN-10: 1580111491, ISBN-13: 978-1580111492
- Tile Roofs of Alfred: A Clay Tradition in Alfred NY
- "Weather-Resistive Barriers [copy on file as /interiors/Weather_Resistant_Barriers_DOE.pdf ] - ", how to select and install housewrap and other types of weather resistive barriers, U.S. DOE
- Wood Shingle Roofs, Care and Maintenance of wood shingle and shake roofs(EC), Stanley S. Niemiec (out of print)