Sketch of basic architectural house styles with common period dates 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.

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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.

Roofing Materials as Indicators of Building Age

PHOTO of wood shingle roof, Key West Florida, adjacent to Hemingway's house

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 house-age-determination details.

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

If you need to see a complete index to articles describing all types of building roofing materials & methods

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

Also see

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™).

Sketch of basic architectural house styles with common period dates

Clues to building age include these examples which we expand and detail in text and articles below. Also on this page at Continue reading we provide an INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES that includes a live link -

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:

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 closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine

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ROOFING MATERIALS, Age, Types at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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