Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


New guide helps homeowners look after their roofs

Edinburgh World Heritage has produced new advice for owners of historic buildings within the World Heritage Site.

May 28, 2013

The new guide aims to give homeowners a better understanding of their roofs, the materials used to make them and how to spot problems before they turn into costly repairs. Maintenance of the roof is key to ensuring the future of any building, as neglect will quickly lead to problems elsewhere.

Edinburgh’s extraordinary topography also means that the city’s roofscape is an essential part of the character of the World Heritage Site. The consistency of grey slates, massive masonry chimney stacks and clay chimney pots, is an impressive sight, and testimony to the traditional materials which have lasted hundreds of years.

The comprehensive guide covers not only slates and pantiles, but also features such as dormers, cornices, gutters, cupolas, chimneys and balustrades. As well as describing the construction and materials, the guide also offers maintenance tips and highlights common problems with roofs in the Old and New Towns.

In addition the guide covers some of the history of roofs in Edinburgh, from the 1621 by-law banning thatch, to the introduction of pantiles from the Low Countries and the innovation of the M-shaped roof in the Georgian period.

Fiona MacDonald, Conservation Architect for Edinburgh World Heritage said: “The booklet explains how different roof materials influence the character of an area, from the dark grey slated pitched roofs of the New Town, to the steeply pitched red pantiled roofs of Well Court in the Dean Village. To keep your building in good order, keep it wind and watertight at all times. A stitch in time such as replacing slipped slates and clearing out gutters regularly really does make a difference, and will keep costs to a minimum.”

This publication is the latest in the EWH Historic Home Guide series, aimed at giving straight forward advice to homeowners on the maintenance of their historic buildings. Previous editions look at Exterior Paintwork, Ironmongery and Energy Efficiency.

Download the EWH Historic Home Guide - Roofs (PDF | 2MB)

Did you know?
In Scotland, slates are laid in ‘diminishing courses’, with the largest at the outer edge and smallest at the ridge.

Scots slate has a highly distinctive uneven surface and colour. A well-slated roof can last for over 150 years.

Using inappropriate materials on historic buildings such as hard cement mortar will cause more harm in the long-term.

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