Do you have a metal porch roof or asphalt?
Is your porch roof the original design?
You may have a very authentic vintage home but there is a good chance that your porch roof has been not only replaced but changed over the years.
What looks original may not be. Some porch roofs were not meant to be seen.
Many metal porch roofs were made of tin, a tern metal that was painted usually red or green and some were even made of copper.
Tin roofs had a very shallow pitch. The pitch of this roof is 2:12 or 9.46 degrees. The tin roof slopes downward to the front where there is a sort of gully. This gully is angled to the corners of the roof where there is a drain.
The drain is merely an opening in the roof down through the soffit where a downspout carries the water away.
Why have people replaced their tin roofs? The design is NOT a problem. If the drain becomes clogged or rotted, the water can leak into the soffit rotting out the wood. This problem is more apt to occur with a modern roof and gutters that can easily get clogged. A gutter holds leaves while the gully on a tin roof allows leaves to blow off. A tin roof requires minimal maintenance and can last years. Mine is from 1910. As with anything, neglect results in destruction.
Aesthetically a tin roof like this is the way to go for the gutter system is that of a Built-in gutter . Once this roof is replaced you will then need to install gutters. The gutters, either K-style or half-round will cover up the nice looking bed mold trim on the fascia board.
Metal Porch Roof Repair – The Wrong Way
Sometimes the metal roof was repaired by applying roof tar or an aluminum asphalt silver paint. Asphalt shingles couldn’t (shouldn’t) be applied to the porch roof because there was not enough of a pitch for the water to run down. A better fix was to alter the design of the house by increasing the pitch of the roof. The new porch roof would be a real lot higher beginning usually right under the second floor window sill which is too high. This makes the second floor appear shorter when viewed from the street. A look that the original architect did not want. Be sure to read my article on porch flashing for this leads to another issue.
My Tin Porch Roof
When I purchased my 1910 home, the porch roof was recently painted with a new coat of silver aluminum asphalt paint. It looked ok if you like shiny sliver but by the following year it was leaking through the bead board ceiling onto the porch floor. I contacted a few roofers and the only option was to go with black rolled roofing and I remember they said it would have a white lip around the edges. That meant a definite no for me so I did some research.
Meanwhile this silver painted roof was quickly deteriorating. I actually had holes in the porch roof the size of my fist. I found a company that manufactured an elastomeric coating called Acrymax that I can paint onto my roof that would seal it, protect it, and allow it to expand and contract at a wide range. There is also a high strength polyester reinforcement which gets applied over the large holes. The most difficult decision was choosing a color. I finally decided on a copper patina color that I thought would go well with my house colors – although the roof is only visible from down the street.
The result was unbelievable. I still have my 1910 tin roof and it is now in perfect condition. Don’t listen to your roofer or contractor and alter the design of your house to something it was not meant to be. For a fraction of the price (and I mean a fraction) you can save a super deteriorated roof that you would not think could possibly be saved, let alone last for many years. Here is a link to the repair I used.
Metal Porch Roof’s Today
If the pitch of your porch roof is low, the roof should be metal. You DO want the porch roof to look different from your main roof. It can also be a different color. A porch roof with a pitch that appears more steep can be an asphalt roof and then should match the main roof in style and color. I am not stating roof pitch slopes for I think it is best to do make a judgment call on this.
There are two basic types of metal roofing.
Standing Seam Roof:
- Standing seam roofs are sheets of metal that attach to each other with interlocking ridges. Standing seam roofs were also used as the main roof for homes during the 1800’s.
Flat Soldiered Seam Roofing:
- Flat soldiered seam roofs are metal roofs without seams. These roofs were mostly used for porch roofing and tower roofs. This is the type of roof I recommend for most porch roofs.
Use Caution When Choosing a Roof
The above house was a Foursquare home that was in bad condition. Someone purchased the house and changed the appearance making it into a fancy contemporary Foursquare. Not like the house was designed to look. A Victorian round porch was added. A Foursquare would never have a porch like that. The roof pitch was increased cramping the windows above it and a fancy standing seam roof was installed on the porch. I do not like it. The seams are way too pronounced and distracts the viewer – especially on the turret roof. Are there other manufacturers that offer smaller seams? Yes there are. Just pay attention to the standing seam roofs you see in your travels. Some look a lot better than others.
Lately I have seen a lot or standing seam metal porch roofs. Black metal seems to be popular although you can probably fry an egg on it during the summer. I love standing seam roofs but I do not like them on a porch. They seem too bulky for a small area and the details seem exaggerated. Porch roofs like this seem to attract your attention away from the rest of the house.
It seems that the standing seam roof salesperson also convinces the homeowner to add matching gutters. Never match the gutters to the roof. This is a major mistake! See my article on historic gutters to better understand gutter color and how it effects the appearance of a house.
Although this roof is not painted it does have a more appealing appearance for its simplicity allows the roof to blend in letting the other more important features of the porch and house stand out more.
There are a quite few options when choosing a standing seam roof. The information I have here is to make you aware of porch roof aesthetics. There is a lot to know such as the type of metal and if you have the option to paint the roof if you later want a change.
The trim on a house is visually very important for it outlines the house and provides a border surrounding the body color creating a neat appearance. The trim must be proportional to the architecture of the house. If the trim on the eaves of your house is too thin then it can appear that the trim is not visually strong enough to support the heavy roof. All this registers with your inner senses and can create a negative feeling.
Today there is a problem with roof flashing that covers the trim. This is explained in the blog post – Roof Flashing – What You Need to Know . The design of some metal roofing also creates a similar problem. The metal roof that once overlapped the fascia board beneath the roof only about 1/2 inch now can completely cover the fascia board totally concealing the trim. This is a MAJOR PROBLEM that must be discussed with the roofers at the very beginning. When roof shopping, this is something you need to be aware of and prevent.
Before and after. Instead of repairing the tin, a new asphalt roof was installed very badly. What this homeowner did was an atrocity. See the tin roof. Instead of repairing it, new asphalt roofing was installed on top of the tin. On top of all that the roof overhangs so low that it completely hides the fascia. This is one of the worst roofing jobs I have ever seen. Don’t do this to your house or your neighborhood!
A Metal Roof for Your Main House Roof?
If your house is pre-Victorian then you can use a metal for the main roof. Do NOT put a metal roof on a Victorian or Craftsman etc. If your house was built before 1870 a metal roof would be appropriate. A Colonial Revival from the 1920’s would look appealing with a metal roof but would not be historically correct.