Historic Roof Restoration

Historic Roof Restoration & Repair

Do you have a historic roof in need of repair? 

If so, you may have a unique roof that requires care and attention to detail. Pfister Roofing has 25+ years experience with historic roof repair including slate, tile and steeples. We take pride in the number of religious and official buildings we have worked on – take a look at our Church References and the roof we put on Grant’s Tomb!

Pfister has been approved for historic restoration by the State of New Jersey Division of Building and Construction.


Roof Restoration of Historic Buildings

Historic roof restoration requires the knowledge and understanding of each of the building components involved in an historical building. Traditionally, knowledge means that the building is over 50 years or more in most cases the structure is made from sand stone wood beams as well as wood planking tongue and groove consisting of 1½” – 2½ “ in thickness to which the roof material is then secured.

Materials used on historical buildings can be i.e. copper, zinc, stainless steel, lead coated sheets and/or man made clay or concrete tiles as well as manmade and natural slate varying in thickness and color.


Failing or a leaking roof on a historical building can be caused by many influences the most prominent is age, rain, sunlight and wind as well as constant expansion and contraction caused by temperature swings which cause slate and tile material to become brittle and thereby losing their overall physical integrity.

Unfortunately repairs to such failures have not been made by qualified roofers who do not understand such damage and/or use roofing glue, corks or cement to make the needed correction solving a short term problem but also delaying the need for a qualified repair which must be done in order to prevent damage to the substructure.

What are the current steps to take to address repairs to historical buildings?

  • A good approach is to surgically take a section of the ailing roof apart step by step to determine the cause of failure. For instance in most cases tiles and slate will crumble during this process of removal metal roofs will tear and weaken due to the fact that they have lost their strength by water which washes away the thickness of most metal roofs through corrosion, expansion and contraction.
  • All in all understanding the weaknesses and self induced damage of a failing roof due to weather will allow the contractor to implement a proper roof repair and/or replacement.
  • Failure to analyze properly in advance will in all certainty bring about faulty repairs which will increase the likelihood of more damage done to the structure over time.

Therefore after a thorough inspection as outlined above and with the help of a qualified Architect a restoration program can be developed. Most failures in historical buildings occur in valleys. Roof penetrations such as dormers, chimneys, vent pipes and ventilators as well as elevation changes and ridges.


What Makes A Property Historic?

Age: A property must be “old enough” to be considered historic. Generally speaking, this means that a property must be at least 50 years old, although this is just a general rule of thumb.

Integrity: In addition to having sufficient age, a property must retain its historic physical integrity. For a building, structure, landscape feature, historic district, this means the property must be relatively unchanged. Its essential character-defining features relative to its significance must still be present.

Significance: Finally, and most importantly, a property must be significant to be considered historic. Significance is defined in three ways: (1) through direct association with individuals, events, activities, or developments that shaped our history or that reflect important aspects of our history; (2) by embodying the distinctive physical and spatial characteristics of an architectural style or type of building.

How Do We Decide what’s Historic?

National Register of Historic Places: One of the most important ways in which we determine which properties are historic and which are not is through the National Register of Historic Places. Since its creation by an act of Congress in 1966, the National Register has been one of the foundations of historic preservation across the country.

Other Historic Property Factors.

Documenting what role the property played in our history and ascertaining what it might tell us about the past, defining features of its building type or architectural style. Formal studies called “historic contexts” prepared according to National Park Service standards.

Historic Roof Restoration & Repair

Pfister will work with you to restore your historic roof.

Call today to speak to a roofing specialist about your project at 1 (800) 367-2207