Repair tin shingle roof: early 1870s style

This red metal roofed home near Gray Court, SC, represents a rare relic of the early days of the embossed tin shingle era. In the 1870s, metal shingle design tended to be flamboyant due to influence of the Victorian period

Recently, a hail storm damaged numerous shingles. Plus neglect over the years created leaks, a dull finish, jagged edges and a dysfunctional front porch reroof.

Repairing tin shingle roof: Before any work

The four photos below illustrate several major points about a project involving the repair of tin shingles:

1. The embossed tin shingles themselves had not been maintained. Even with this neglect, the lines of metal roofing appeared to lay respectably flat–a good sign that the roof would shape up with professional workmanship and quality materials.

2. The photo that shows the driveway’s main entrance into the home with a porch overhang illustrates a rural style standing seam roof from the early 1900s. Although the shingles here had been replaced, the resulting “redo” blends well with the 1870s style.

3. The porch photo challenges a contractor like me. The modern panels over the porch’s early stamped shingles scream “cheap, cheap.” The edging around the “witch’s hat” has lead to leaks as well as shingle deterioration.

4. The final photo illustrates hail damage. This photo shows several hail impacts on the house siding. The same storm hail damaged decorative shingles on one side of the roof as well as on the witch’s hat.

The owner of the homestead

Our customers demonstrate a love of our American past. The owner of this rural homestead possesses an abundance of this characteristic. Besides working hard during the week in her profession, she is hands-on renovating the entire property. She insisted on a peculiar request; the fence gates always be closed so that her cows did not meander into the swimming pool!

Her ability to lose herself for a few minutes in music is obvious. She is a member of Greenville in Harmony chorus. As an active member she performs in the South Carolina area. Unexpectedly she and several members phoned a Valentine ditty–not many contractors can brag of that treat. Check them out.

Replacement shingle

During the first half of the embossed tin shingle era spanning about 70 years, there were three sizes available: large, medium and small. This roof used the medium and small sizes.

A talented tool & die manufacturer near Philadelphia, PA, created the two molds needed to replicate the shingles. Because the shingles were so warped, Dennis Mayerschoff, the owner, had to massage the mold’s impressions to overcome damage and age.

Red roof restoration for tin shingles

Before any work, as the photo on the right shows, the roof cried for attention. The next photo confirms three important steps in the work performed:

First, the shingles have been protected and reinforced with a high quality primer. In any old metal roof project, the quality of the primer is the best insurance for the long-term performance of the roof.

Second, the shingles are covered with three coats of the highest quality material available to protect the primer–and the primer protects the metal. The first two coats of traditional red acrylic did well, but the application of Wearcoat66 from Andek Corp added a glossy finish that highlighted the design even more beautifully.

Third, attention to few detail subtlety finishes the look. For example the black trim “seats” the roof line more attractively than a white to red line.

The front porch is a good illustration of a cheap job. Modern panels were nailed directly over the 1870s embossed tin shingles. If you look closely at the photo on the left above, you can spot the shingle edges at the roof base. The work included removing the modern panels then applying the reinforced system to the shingles. The profile of the unveiled shingles ties the porch roof with the upper sections.

The dormers had been installed after the original construction of the home, probably around 1900 to 1920. The dormers still have the the rural standing seam panels. With the cleanup, painting and detail work, the dormers slide into the early appearance of the home.

Witch’s hat, sometimes called witch’s cap or candle-snuffer, creates the traditional look. The above two photos illustrate the “before” situation. The small size shingles were damaged around the base, plus hail damage had ruined more than a few.

Below the work included the dormer edges as well as the replacement shingles. As an aside, the replacement shingles were made of copper for the purpose of capturing the design better than any other metal. My crew chief immediately coated each replacement shingle so that nearby unsavory eyes did not sparkle dollar signs. To spot the replacement shingles takes a good eye. The side porch roof responded to the new materials. This is the view that the owner sees everytime she walks into her home.

The chimney also received the crew’s full attention. The use of the shingle tint allows the chimney to blend in with the overall impact of the roof.

So few of these roofs still exist. With a fortunate sequence of events, this musically talented homeowner engaged us to do our best in tin shingle repair work. The opportunity she gave us is deeply appreciated.