Archive for the ‘Building Materials’ Category

Interior Architectural Detailing Distinguishes “Classic” From Ordinary

April 9, 2010

Trim Detail by Wood & Co.

The interior architectural details we select make a strong statement about who we are and make the difference between ordinary design and “classic ” design.  The detailing makes a room whole – from the decorative beams, and the crown molding, baseboards, paneling, and chair rails to the stairs, and the floors under our feet – good detailing transforms a home from the ordinary to the “classic”. 

Guide to Architectural Elements

Usually these details are made of wood and center around molding and custom woodwork.  The warmth and character of wood architectural details distinguish a home, and can make it spectacular.   Typically these details in classic old world or European homes are derived from the “classical Orders” and attention to proper detailing is important. 

While the choices of materials and detailing are too numerous to cover in this blog, a good summary of the classical orders can be found in “Get Your House Right” by Marianne Cusato and Ben Penreath.  They point out how interior detailing can range from high-style, fully classical design to a modest trim selection and point out that the classical Orders relate to the size of the room and the other elements in it.

Plaster and stone were frequently used for detailing old world homes, but wood is most comonly used.  As with the exrerior detailing we have discussed in previous blogs, interior detailing requires careful attention to proportions and materials in the context of the space and purpose.  For the most part we are concerning ourselves with “traditional” detailing in discussing old world design.  That, however,  may vary depending on the style of home, be it French, English, Italian or classic American Heritage which may have characteristics of any of these.  Our purpose is to provide information that may steer you to a variety of sources to suit the home design you have selected.

Trim, inside and out, has a practical purpose as well as an aesthetic purpose.  It accents what we want to beeseen and covers potential trouble spots resulting from the termination of or joining of two materials or surfaces.   More significant trim may signify a more significant door or window, while less trim may provide a subtle accent wihout bringing attention to something less significant.  The size of the space may dictate the size of the trim as well.  It really is a matter of proportion and balance.  Likewise, the shape of trim pieces indicate a level of importance or compliment an adjacent element in form or style.   Trim detailing varries significantly from one area to another.  Here we will address some of the more “traditional” interior trim detailing.

Trim Profiles

Some of the trim or interior millwork that make up the overal composition of interior architecture include, the base (trim at juncture of the wall and floor), window and door casings (used to cover the joint between the wall and window or door), crown molding (where the ceiling and wall planes meet), sills, wainscoting, and chair rail (traditionally used to protect the wall from the backs of chairs).  Each of these have shapes or “profiles” with a variety of “terminations” that transition the trim at the top, the edge or at the base.

Window and door casings have three basic elements that result in distinctive, built-up profiles.  These are:  the termination in the form of a bead, quarter round or assorted profiles, the back band and the largest element, the flat.  The size of each will be proportionate to the size of the space and of each element to the other.

Bases can be flat or topped with a base cap in the form of an ogee, nose and cove or bead, ogee and fillet.  Your builder and building supplier can show you examples of each

If the choice of profiles for base, trim and casing was not enough to complicate your decision making process, the size of the trim is another issue.  One of the best ways to determine the best size trim is to mock-up two or three options at different sizes and shapes on site.  It may be best to determine the trim and molding once walls have been framed in so any necessary blocking can be installed where extra support or nailing surface is required for larger installations. 

Hardwood Molding by White River

Ceiling trim may be a simple crown or a much more detailed, five, six or seven piece large combination detail cornice (LCD).  It may help to know that a built up cornice may be composed of any number of components, but most combinations have similar parts depending on the size of the desired cornice.  These parts are typically crown, frieze, bed, facia, soffit, blocking and cleats.  Assembling and installing a cornice takes skilled trades people who are familiar with the process of assembling these parts and have the appropriate tools. 

Trim is available in a variety of materials affecting cost, usage and application. Consideration needs to be given to whether the trim will be painted or stained.   The choice of finish may determine what material you should choose.

Solid hardwood trim is a traditional standard for elegant, interior millwork,  famous for its warmth and character.  It has a reputation for quality and durability.  In addition to its benefits it can have some drawbacks such as cupping and warping.  Advantages include availability, strength, ease of coping, cutting, nailing, and finishing.  A wide variety of solid shapes and curved moldings are available for any profile in a wide variety of wood species, grades and cuts including antique, imported and domestic.

Finger jointed  wood is knot free and less likely to cup than solid wood.   It is available in 16 ft. lengths, and installs like solid wood.  The finger-jointed process involves the joining of short lengths of timber to produce longer lengths, which can then be milled to the desired shape and equivalent to the strength of solid wood.   If wood is to be stained, careful consideration should be given to the trim material as joints can show through the finish. 

Medium density fiberboard (MDF) may be a wise choice in lieu of wood if you are considering painted trim.  These are are pre-primed and can save time and trouble.  They have softer profiles, are easy to cut and take paint well.  They are not suited for moist areas, can be fragile in small pieces, and not as easy to handle in long lengths.   Some manufacturers provide a low emission Green Building compliant solution to MDF mouldings and boards.

Synthetic trim is extruded or molded and can be cost effective, lighter, durable, workable, immune to moisture and more dimensionally stable, but lack some desirable characteristics of wood or workability of MDF products.  For instance, they are more difficult to cope, require proprietary adhesives, and may not be available in lengths greater than 14 feet.  Some are available in molded shapes and a variety of curves or flexible options. 

Plaster medalions are available in a variety of styles and replicate historically accurate designs.   They are intended to complement  embellished mouldings and add architectural detail to the well appointed interior. These old world plaster medallions are usually cast and feature highly sculptured plaster motifs.

These are but a few of the many manufacturers of these products available today.  Your trim provider or builder can describe the benefits of each in more detail and help you select the best option.

Visit us at http://www.newsouthclassics.com/ for more ideas relating to building your traditional or old world home and a wide selection of plans.

Wood Flooring for Old World Design

August 15, 2009
Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

Once you have decided upon a style, period or region of the world that you want your new house to emulate, you will soon be faced with the daunting task of selecting finishes for everything from walls, ceilings and floors.  These must be complimentary to one another, create a sense of balance, yet provide enough contrast to provide interest within each room and from room to room.   

 

Mountain Lumber Reclaimed Flooring

Mountain Lumber Co. Reclaimed Flooring

Flooring materials will have some of the biggest visual impact of any of the interior finishes and therefore must be appropriate to the house style as well as for the use they will receive.  They also will get the most wear, so choose carefully!  Certain residential styles call for a select range of flooring possibilities.  “Old World” homes such as English cottage, French country, Italian or American classic, offer great opportunities for creativity with flooring materials and installation techniques.  The space will dictate your material options making your selection easier, yet many times wood, stone, tile or a combination of the same may be an appropriate choice.  It usually comes down to personal preference.  There are virtually unlimited possibilities available to you.

Southern Wood Floors

Southern Wood Floors' Heart Pine Flooring

Determining which material to use is of primary consideration.  Once that decision has been made, the variations within that material group are overwhelming.  We will start our discussion with wood flooring. Wood offers a wide variety of color and texture options.  Its warm, natural beauty compliments virtually any residential design.  From wide plank flooring to narrow, light, medium or dark, traditional, rustic, formal or contemporary, heart pine or hardwood, wood has a character to compliment any style.

It is a renewable resource and with proper prep, installation and care, will last for years.  When selecting a wood floor, it will be important to consider factors  such as wood species, cut, color, grade and finish. Many manufacturers offer “distressed” finishes to enhance the aged look often preferred in an Old World house.  On top of this, you can now choose from re-claimed antique woods, old growth wood, engineered lumber, and a wide variety of finishes.  If sustainability, conservation and preservation is of importance to you, there are many considerations when selecting wood flooring such as whether the wood was harvested from a “certified” sustainable forest or if it was reclaimed from historic structures.  With engineered wood, consider using wood “certified” as laminated with low emissions glue.

Proper Installation

Proper Installation

Your choice may make a difference in not only appearance but in the way your new floor performs once it is installed.  Installation is as important as the floor you choose and the floor you choose will dictate the way it is treated, prepared, installed and maintained.

Because wood floors are subject to movement, it is important that wood flooring be installed with consideration of moisture content, and what conditions they will be exposed to for the life of the floor.  The environment in which the floors are being installed is a contributing factor to the success of your floor installation. 

On a concrete slab or in a basement, moisture problems can be reduced by installing a class-1 vapor retarder over the concrete slab and attaching the wood flooring to a sub-floor that is installed over “sleepers”.  You may want to discuss the possibility of depressing your slab if this floor will run into a tile or carpeted area.  Shrink or swell varies with the orientations in the wood.  The cut (plain sawn, or quarter sawn), respond differently to moisture changes.  Conditions such as buckling, cupping and peeling can occur in certain atmospheric conditions.  

Cupping, hardwoodflooring.com

Cupping, hardwoodflooring.com

Cupping occurs when the bottom of a board has a higher moisture content than the top.  The edges warp up higher than the center and is caused when there is a moisture imbalance through the thickness of the board.  This can occur over a crawl space or basement.  Crowned flooring refers to just the opposite condition caused when flooring looses some excess moisture and shrinks on the underside leaving the edges lower then the center.  

Buckling is the result of flooring that is so wet it expands and actually moves off the sub-floor.  If  floor boards are not acclimated properly before installation, they may push together and lift up.   Our link here will show some examples of these various conditions so you can recognize and avoid them.  Shrinking and swelling can be reduced in “engineered” products by gluing layers together with the alternate layers turned ninety degrees to one another.  The look and feel of engineered wood flooring can be just as convincing as that of solid wood, if selected carefully.

Carlisle Engineered Flooring

Engineered Flooring

Be sure to ask your builder to install according to the written installation specifications of the flooring manufacturer and comply with the highest  installation standards established by current industry guidelines.  Manufacturers’ and Industry standards such as those provided by the Forest Products Laboratory offer guidelines to determine proper moisture content in given situations.

Floor finishes affect the wearability and appearance of wood floors.  “Distressing”  can further add the aged character so often associated with the “Old World” look.  Wood flooring material may be pre-finished or site finished.    There are advantages and disadvantages to each.  Check with your manufacturer and installer to determine what may be best in your situation.  Some of the sites we are referring you to have suggestions that address this question as well.  Proper cleaning, prep and finishing is imperative.

Finally, proper maintenance once the flooring is installed will do as much for your floor as proper instalation.  Be sure to follow manufacturer’s proper maintenance instructions.  Also, many manufacturers provide answers to their most frequently asked questions and may answer additional wood flooring product and installation questions you may have.

For additional material that may be of interest, be sure to visit New South Classics at www.newsouthclassics.com

Bruce Eason, AIA

Window Design for “Old World” Homes

April 30, 2009
Segmented arch casement with authentic divided lights

Segmented arch casement with simulated divided lights (SDL) in French blue

New South Classics designs historically correct houses.  Historically correct details define a house and make it correct for a particular place or time.   As with doors, the selection of the correct window for your house, can make the difference between an authentic house design and one that simply claims to be from a particular period or style.

Windows come in all shapes, sizes, styles, materials and color choices.  Perhaps even more importantly, windows also are manufactured very differently depending on the source.  Other than the roof, perhaps no other component of residential design says more about the style of the house and does more to protect the occupants from the elements than the windows.

P1010398

Classic French Casement Set In Hip Dormer

Therefore, when selecting windows, one must determine if the window style is appropriate or “true” to the style of home being designed and if the window manufacturer has adequately addressed the durability of the window for the conditions it will be subjected to.

While it is important to pay particular attention to correct proportions for the style and period home you have selected, other factors are equally important.

Custom French window with bowed muntins and authentic divided lights

Custom French window (Mediterranean revival)

The designer, contractor and owner should ensure that the right window is installed correctly.

The best window installed incorrectly, won’t do much good if water and air penetrate the window assembly or the wall in which it is mounted.

Intended use, durability, finish and appropriateness of style have a lot to do with the species of wood the window is constructed from.  New technology creating rot resistant products for the most severe weather conditions makes it possible for some windows to withstand rotting and related damage for longer periods.

Manufacturers offer a broad range of wood species and finishes from unfinished, to factory finished, primed, painted, stained and clad which is seen as a prerequisite for high end custom homes.

small English bay window

small English bay window

This blog will give some opinions regarding what you should be looking for when it comes to window selection for your Old World home and suggest a number of sources for researching more detailed information and products.  It is not intended to replace the manufacturer’s written instructions or address all possible conditions.  It is merely intended to make you aware of what you need to ask when you work with your architect or contractor and when you think about what windows may be right for your house.

Finally, the style of  hardware you choose will speak of the period home you are designing.  The right, period  hardware will add that special touch, creating an “authentic” window design for the Old World style home you are building.

We hope this information will help to get you familiar with window styles, window construction, installation, and hardware and prepare you to ask the right questions before selecting your windows.  You will find links to appropriate sites where you can get additional technical advice and find windows you may want to consider.  We are not endorsing the companies featured here, but want to provide a selection to get you started.

We will start by addressing window style.

traditional-window-2-dynamic-windows6

Traditional design of bowed Palladian window with Gothic arch sash flanked by diamond glazed panels by Dynamic Windows

Basics of Authentic Traditional Window Style:

As with doors, window design should be consistent with the style of house you are designing.  Whether your house is Arts and Crafts, French Country, English Cottage, Italian, or one of the American classics, there is a window appropriate to that style.  Many manufacturers offer styles appropriate to each….some better than others.  Regional differences will be recognized by the overall composition and how the window unifies the style through basic proportions, unity and hierarchy, or implied importance of each window to the spaces in the house.

Traditional double hung by Norwood Windows

Traditional double hung by Norwood Windows

It is important to recognize the historical precedent using proportions and profiles based on traditional window design and construction techniques.    In short, traditional windows may be categorized as sash (double hung), segmented arch (popular in French country design, arched, casement (in-swing or out swing), round or eliptical, lancet (pointed arch) and Paladian, bowed and bay to name a few.  Then there are many variations of each such as tilt-in, swing -in, swing out, etc.  Proportional differences are extremely important if design is to be authentic to a particular time and part of the world.  Research material found on our blog post “Getting Familiar With an Authentic Classic Style” may help you understand how windows vary between various “Old World” Styles.

Engaged French Dormer on a New South Classics Home

"Engaged" French Dormer by Loewen on a New South Classics home

Historically accurate styles differ predominately with respect to shape, method of operation and how the glass is articulated or arranged.    Glass ,or glazing,  patterns and bead profiles can vary dramatically and in some cases very subtly.

Glazing refers to the glass which is available in every imaginable way from single, glazed panels with common mullions, to multiple “light patterns” created with a “multiple glazing bead” referred to as “true divided lights” (ADL) or “simulated” divided lights (SDL)  with snap or glued in grille inside, or profiled grille on inside and out.

Kolby segment head casement with diamond pattern

Kolby segment head casement with diamond pattern

Grilles can also be set between the the panes of insulating glass.  Virtually any glass pattern option is available to obtain the desired look.  The width and number of dividing bars or “muntins” that make up the divided lights determines the desired look.  Custom light patterns are available and some windows styles call for a combination of patterns mentioned above.

The diamond pattern casement with finely crafted glass like the example to the right  by Kolby Windows and Doors is frequently seen in “Old World” design and has the look of authentic leaded glass.

Classic Charleston double hung with "9 over 9 divided lights

Classic Charleston double hung with "9 over 9" divided lights

Glazing options are typically available  single glazed, insulated, laminated, Low E, restoration, art glass, and safety glass.    The dividers or “beads” between the glass are available in many profiles and widths depending on the style preferred.

The wood trim or “casing” around the window on the inside and outside is also available in virtually any size and profile.

Some residential styles call for wide casing, others narrow and still others require no casing but rather a trim or “brick mold” for use with masonry walls as shown here.

"Get Your House Right"

"Get Your House Right"

One of the better guides I’ve found on window design basics for traditional American homes is “Get Your House Right” by Marianne Cusato & Ben Pentreath, Sterling, New York / London.   It explains in detail what window design to use for traditional homes and what to avoid through detailed drawings and commentary.

Authentic French casement window with shutter

Authentic French casement window with shutter

Details make the difference and details are what separate styles from one another as well as what create similarities between regions or countries.

The French Country style is characterized by the classic French window with tall, narrow panels of divided lights and narrow muntins such as shown here on this home in the Loire Valley of France.  Notice how the shutters are hinged to fold back on themselves when not in use.  Often, interior shutters will do the same and are commonly seen in French and Italian residential design.

French Board and Batten Shutters with Diagonal Bracing

French Board and Batten Shutters with Diagonal Bracing

These windows can be flat topped or radius topped as shown on the windows in the dining room of this French Chateau,  below.  Typically they are set back to allow room for exterior folding shutters or set out flush to allow for interior folding shutters.  This was made practical because of the thickness of typical wall construction.

In-swing casement windows with radius top

In-swing casement windows with radius top

A prominent room such as one in the main living area or significant bedroom often has such tall windows indicating its importance in the house and allowing for maximum light and air.  Window panes may be large or small depending on desired look.

The use of the double hung window is seldom seen in France, while it is more common in American and often in English residential design.   Casement windows are commonly seen in both France and England as with this French home to the right.

The size of glazing may vary depending on the size of the window.  Often, true “Old World” casements fold in against pockets created by thick walls and they may be full height, resembling doors.  Hence, the term “French door” or French window as the windows often came to the floor and resembled doors.

Tudor house 1 cropped

Leaded casements in a tudor style house

In England, windows are often “leaded glass” in rectangular or diamond patterns.  Similar styled windows are often seen in Arts and Crafts styles as they have an English heritage.  Fan lights above entry doors are often seen in formal English homes and have a counterpart in French design as well.  The use of ornate windows is limited to larger, more formal homes in urban settings in both countries.  English design differs from French in several areas.  The typical English Country cottage is simpler in many ways from its French counter part including window design and ornamentation.

French board and batten shutters with strap hinges

French board and batten shutters with strap hinges

The use of shutters is fairly common in French residential design, whereas English homes rarely have shutters. As with windows on any house, the proportions of shutter relative to the window opening is an important design element.  Shutters, if operable or not, should be proportioned to fit in the rough opening.  Shutters that are oversized or undersized appear to be fake and distract from the authentic look you want to achieve.   Similarly, the radius of shutters for arched windows should exactly match the radius of the window rough opening.  If not, the shape of the window and shutter conflict and appear artificial.

traditional fan light over a Charleston entry

traditional fan light over a Charleston entry

Traditional Charleston homes typically incorporate shutters on virtually every window to  provide shade as well as protect against the strong hurricane winds as seen in the photo  below.  Quality, traditional shutters are available in wood or PVC with steel reinforcing.  Exterior shutter options include raised panel, recessed panel, flat panel, fixed louver, Bermuda, board and batten, and custom.

Segmented shutter adds detail and functionality

Segmented shutter adds detail and functionality

Again, details make the difference.  Look for historically correct hardware that simulates or allows for operable  shutters.  As can be seen with these shutters that are segmented to wrap around the window opening and also close to provide complete protection of the window, anything is possible in shutter design.

Here, clever design along with proper proportions add detail and interest while still being functional.  The operable shutter adds an architectural quality that lends to the authenticity of the period design of this classical home.  The shutter is in two vertical pieces hinged together.   It opens against the depth of the wall and folds back against the exterior creating a narrower profile easily fitting on the balcony.

Traditional Charleston style wood shutters by Withers Custom Made Shutters

Traditional Charleston style wood shutters by Withers Custom Made Shutters

Borrowing from the English and the French, homes in Charleston, South Carolina and other lower coastal areas of the United States frequently incorporate the double hung window, and shutter.  Entrances are often flanked with side-lights and delicate fan lights above the front door.

canata61

Hipped dormers on French country styled house

Our discussion of windows would not be complete without taking notice of dormer windows.  Dormers come in all shapes and sizes, yet, here again, dormers vary from country to country and design period to design period.  As seen above, French dormers can be a full dormer on the roof, an engaged dormer that is partially above the roof.  The roof can be barrel-vaulted, hipped, shed or gabled.  The house to the right and below are examples of engaged  dormers.  Each indicates a hierarchy of importance and, or, serves a specific purpose for the interior space which it serves.

Example of a gabled dormer window on a French country house

Example of a gabled dormer window on a French country house

Gabled dormers on French country homes are usually simple and often found on houses with roofs with a gabled end.  Windows on gabled or hipped dormers may be flat top or arched, and typically have a casement window with authentic divided lights as seen on the house to the left.  Some are shuttered if the shutters have room to fold back the depth of the wall to be authentic.

The English cottage typically has simple dormers that have less slender proportions.  They are usually hipped, flat or gabled with extended rafter tails and wide overhangs.  Windows could be casement or double-hung.

Again, size is based on the dormer’s purpose and importance.  dormers may be single window dormers, and are sometimes multiple windows assembled together in the form of what is called a “shed dormer”.  Shed dormers allow for more light and extend the usable floor area in the attic or second floor space into the dormer. Aside from shape alone, correct dormer placement is critical to the overall success of your design.  See the New South Classics Blog for more sources for classic Old World Design.

Typical English cottage dormer with double casement windows

Typical English cottage dormer with double casement windows

Classic Williamsburg Dormer detailing.

Classic Williamsburg Dormer detailing.

Perhaps most characteristic of our American Heritage in residential architecture is the early American home as designed by early settlers.  Among other classic features of these homes is the dormer window.  All good designers will tell you that there are rules for detailing, scale, proportion and placement of these features.  Hips and gables and sheds were used but when used correctly they adhered to certain classic detailing, which can be the subject of another blog.  This early Williamsburg house shows the importance of simplicity and proportions of even one dormer.  Note the positioning and slender proportions characteristic of this period.

A Classic Charleston Dormer with Full Cornice

A Classic Charleston Dormer with Full Cornice

Classic detailing and proportions of dormers can make the difference between an “authentic” look and a “sort of” period look of your Old World home.  Whether you prefer a shed dormer, gable or hipped dormer, remember to also select the right glazing and muntin combination.  The wrong shape is a dead give away that you understand the period or not.

This slender Charleston dormer with its fully detailed cornice and properly raking cyma is suitable for a classical roof.  Notice that the distance between the window head and cornice is minimized and the casing on either side of the window is narrow.  Siding may either be horizontal as shown or slope parallel with the roof pitch.

These details are all part of what make this dormer right for its period.

Melton Classics Cast Stone Architectural Elements

Melton Classics Cast Stone Architectural Elements

Windows and doors by themselves can make bold statements about the periods they represent as seen in the examples above.  These period styles have design elements that make up what we call the Classic Orders of Architecture.  Fine craftsmanship reflects the timeless beauty and unmistakable authenticity of good period design.

Added to the timless beauty of well designed windows, doors and surrounds, design elements such as columns, mouldings, keystones, and miscellaneous elements add character and help create a hierarchy of design importance.

These classic design elements can be of wood, cast stone, copper and other materials.  Whether castles or cathedrals, these elements create drama and add an element of elegance that traditional styling is noted for.

Avis Dormer by Custom Copper Designs

Avis Dormer by Custom Copper Designs

Specialty dormers such as this copper French dormer take windows to a new level of design.  Ornate, hand-crafted copper detailing duplicate architecturally correct proportions and period style.

For additional material that may be of interest, be sure to visit New South Classics at www.newsouthclassics.com

Bruce Eason, AIA

Roofing Says a Lot About a House

November 20, 2008

Not only does a good roof shield against the elements, it says a lot about your house.  A roof should blend with your style of architecture but not dominate it. Fortunately, today there are a wide variety of quality roofing materials that meet most budget and design requirements.  Pricing depends on the roofing material, features such as design, color, texture, thickness and its guaranteed life.  The owner must weigh the benefits of long life and style against material and installation costs.  In addition these and other factors influence the success of a roofing material in helping a design look “authentic” to a particular style.

split cedar shakes

split cedar shakes

Starting with timeless natural materials such as cedar shake and slate, other options include concrete, and clay tiles, as well as metal roofing.  Many options are now available that imitate the real thing quite convincingly and help reduce costs, if that is an issue.  Whether your home is Tuscan, English cottage, French Country, Italian or an American classic, attention should be paid to determine the best “look” for that particular style home.  Putting the wrong roof on the right house can have disastrous results.  A little research would be well advised before deciding. (See our Blog on “Getting Familiar With an Authentic “Classic” Style”)

With today’s emphasis on “Green” building, cedar shakes are a popular roofing material with environmental benefits attributed to using wood products.  Shakes also have precedence in Arts and Crafts as well as Old World residential architecture.  Synthetic shakes are available from a number of sources in a variety of colors and styles and come with up to a 50 year warranty in many cases.

greenstone-slate1What type of roofing is right for your design?  The French, English and American classics are well suited for natural slate which has precedence with all three.  Slate is one of the most durable roofing materials with benefits including longevity, appearance, durability and energy conservation.  If weight or cost are an issue, there are a number of good synthetic slate materials that convincingly mimic natural slate and are fire and impact resistant.

As an alternative to natural slate, concrete tiles offer some “green” benefits according to the manufacturer such as “a 50% reduction in the amount of heat penetrating the conditioned space” and “a 225 reduction in energy consumption” in addition to a variety of styles to imitate natural slate, wood shingle, and clay tile.

MonierLifetile

MonierLifetile

Authentic clay tile roofing is often the roofing material of choice for European or Old World houses.  Some clay tile roofs actually are available with an aged look to contribute to the “Old World” look you hope to achieve.  Some clay tile roofs are good for at least 100 years and actually look better as they age.

From lightweight clay tile to “cool” roofs, clay tile roofs have many benefits.  Clay tile roofs can help you save on energy costs and reduce heat stress, protecting your roof underlayment from failure.

Certainteed Grand Manor roofing

Certainteed Grand Manor roofing on a New South Classics home

Another modern roofing material is the composite shingle manufactured to simulate natural slate.  These asphalt shingles come in a wide variety if shapes, color and styles.  The most popular are the “Designer” or “Architectural” shingles emulate the look of slate and other natural materials.

standing seam roof

standing seam metal roof

 Metal roofing is lightweight and re-recyclable and comes in a multitude of profiles and colors.  The standing seam metal roof is predominant in many coastal areas of the eastern United States and made famous with the terracotta color roofs of Charleston and the “Low country”.  It also is available as a metal shingle in imitations of “slate”, “tile” and “wood”.

Properly selected and installed, metal roofing can  add beauty to any building.  Some, such as Follansbee’s TCS II, offer soft-looking, protective patina that’s developed after exposure to the elements. Yet, the metal is not degraded by heat or UV light and never needs to be painted. TCS II is oxygen reactive, so the patina is formed by exposure to even pollution-free air in rural areas and on coastal breezes.

Follansbee Roofing's TCS II Painted Charleston Green

Follansbee Roofing's TCS II Painted Charleston Green

Endureed Thatch Roofing

Endureed Thatch Roofing

For an authentic classic English Cottage “Old World” look, you may want to consider thatched roofing.  It offers timeless appeal and is applicable to many English cottages.

For instance, our English Cottage Classics offer an assortment of homes that would be a great opportunity to use a thatched roof.  Our Fireside Cottage with a thatched roof  is a good example.  Some manufacturers such as Endureed“, have synthetic thatched roofing materials that they claim are some of the finest available, with “benefits unmatched by inferior synthetic thatch products.”  Their specs claim that their materials have “a Class A fire rating, will not attract insects, rodents or birds, and can withstand a 110 MPH wind with no maintenance required.”  This material is manufactured in the United States and the price compares to natural thatch.

These are just some of the shingles, styles and sources available.  Hopefully this blog has made you more aware of the choices and unlimited possibilities available to you.

For additional material that may be of interest, be sure to visit New South Classics at www.newsouthclassics.com

Bruce Eason, AIA