DC: Care Needed When Replacing Historic Roofs

Photo courtesy Tom Daniel

Walk, bike or drive on 8th St. S.E., near Eastern Market and you will see a long block of homes with old slate turret roofs, with built-in gutters below and finials, the decorative metal ornaments, at the peak.

A turret is a small tower that projects vertically from a building and were originally castle appendages. These beautiful roofs are most often found on Queen Anne-style three story homes throughout the Capitol Hill Historic District. While distinctive, they also present a challenge to home-owners needing to repair or replace these roofs.

Many of these slate turret roofs are original and are more than 100 years old. There are four aspects of these roofs that must be considered in a holistic way order to properly assess the situation. A homeowner and his or her roofing advisor must consider the condition of the slate, the wood substrate below the slate, the built-in gutter below the roof (also known as a water table) and the metal decorative finial at the peak. One must also determine the best plan for the work.

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