Appalachia

Roof Board

Roof board

Home construction has come a long way since the days when folks lived in cabins built with the simplest of tools and the materials they had hewn out of the forest around them. Lucky for us-Pap and The Deer Hunter were able to build our house. It’s no great mansion nor even impressive by any standards-yet its warm, dry, sturdy, and well its home.

Back in the day, almost 20 years ago, when they were building our house, metal roofs were just beginning to become popular again in our area. Pap said when he was a boy most every house had a metal roof on it but once asphalt shingles came into the area folks stopped using metal.

Ours was the first metal roof The Deer Hunter ever put on. He went on to roof many house with metal. Some new construction like ours others older homes like Pap and Granny’s that previously had shingled roofs.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English
roof board noun 
1984 Roth Reminiscences The roofs of all cabins were made of handriven shingles [or] “roof boards.” The shingles were split with the grain from white oak or hickory and all the cabins were built of hand hewn logs. 1995 Trout Historic Buildings 22 True “roof boards” (as the old-timers call them) several feet long can be nailed from purlin to purlin, until the house is covered with only two or three courses of strong planks. This was an early form of roof construction, one that eliminated the need of sawn or split boards to close the gables, rows of lath on which to lay shorter shingles, and hundreds of nails.

Thinking of our metal roof always makes me smile. We (or should I say I) had a hard time deciding on what color of metal we wanted. A heated discussion took place until the decision had to be made-we went with red. It was only after we’d lived in the house for several years that I realized it was almost impossible to see the color of our roof unless you climbed one of the surrounding ridges and looked back at the house.

Are metal roofs popular in your area?

Tipper

*Source: Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 20, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    When I met Mitchell and my future home, the roof was shingled. I thought, now who ever heard of a log cabin covered in asphalt? I was so happy when that roof started to leak! The brown tin I chose is still lovely all these years later. Sadly, (or maybe not), the roof doesn’t sing because the house is too well insulated.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    January 20, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Tipper. We will be putting a medal roof on in the spring.

  • Reply
    Lise
    January 20, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    We have a metal roof, as many of the cabins and homes around us do. Ours is silver (well, I guess it actually is just the metal and no color). My favorite thing about a metal roof is the sound of the rain dancing upon it! How sweet it is:)

  • Reply
    teresa atkinson
    January 20, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Recognizing that roof, the deck and the view brought a big smile to my face. Much love and best wishes headed your way.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 20, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Tipper,
    The other night at Chitter and Chatter’s Concert at the Pick N’ Grin, Pap came up to me and told me a couple of nice stories. He told me how proud he was of his son-in-law, the Deer Hunter. It went something like this: “When me and my oldest boy was roofing our house, my
    son-in-law came by, climbed up on the
    roof and asked for a hammer. He stayed until the job was finished too.”
    Then he asked me if I was old enough
    to remember The Great Depression. I
    told him I got here just at the end
    of it, but my daddy always said he
    couldn’t tell when it ended. Pap said
    things were so bad where he grew up
    that folks stole the crossties off
    the railroad to keep warm…Ken

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    January 20, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Hubby is wanting to go with metal, but I was reluctant but he explained how much simpler to do metal with no taking off the existing shingle roof to take a chance of getting wet with so much rain we have. I agreed and now the color selection is all now for getting the metal roof. He does his own roofing, that is a pulse.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    January 20, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I see them coming back again, not if Arizona of course, but when I go back home!! My Granny had a tin roof and I loved to hear the sound when it rained.

  • Reply
    Wanda
    January 20, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Our whole house is recycled!! It was moved here from its original site about 20 yrs ago. Much repair was needed & we had some hilarious adventures along the way. And some not so hilarious like removing about 10 layers of wallpaper & dirt. We learned (well enough to do) how to hang sheetrock & lay foundation bricks, sand & paint & lay tile! We still have some unfinished projects.
    Anyway, our roof was deteriorating & two summers ago my husband decided we could put on a metal roof. (to hire someone was more than we could pay). At that time he was 60 & I was 61 & both pretty pudgy & out of shape. A Mennonite builder sold us the metal & let us buy it as we used it & also the screws. We had several in the family help out but the main work fell to my husband.
    My son & I were lifting the sheets up to him–I guess it’s a wonder we didn’t get sliced open good but we had only a few minor cuts. After we finished we were told about using a machine to lift the whole stack of metal!! My husband works construction & we could have borrowed something from his employees!
    He had a safety harness, thank heavens, but I never really trusted it, & people just up for a few minutes had no harness. It was a pretty nerve wracking experience at times.
    Our roof is a ivory type color & looks great. We are very proud of ourselves!!
    I grew up with a tin roof which was replaced two yrs ago. It was at least 60 yrs old & was still in pretty good shape.

  • Reply
    Jackie
    January 20, 2014 at 11:33 am

    When I was a kid our house, barn, corn crib and all of the out buildings had wood shingles. They were called shakes then. I stacked the shakes as my dad split them with a froe and mallet. I’m sure the mallet has rotted away but the froe was still in the smoke house the last time I was there.
    There is a grave in Graham County with a shelter built over it. It has a shake roof. Google ‘Sheltered Grave – Graham County, NC’.

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    January 20, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Yes they are very popular here too. We had to have one put on a few years ago. It’s brown but the color doesn’t matter it keeps the house more insulated and warm and they say that a metal roof lasts longer than shingles do.

  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    January 20, 2014 at 11:10 am

    My paternal grandparents were married in the early 1870’s when they were about sixteen years old. Grandpa built a shack on Balsam Mountain in North Carolina. They couldn’t afford nails to hold the roof boards on so they put big rocks on the boards to hold them down. Granny said a panther got on the roof one night when Grandpa was gone, and she thought it was going to tear the boards off.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 20, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Tipper,
    I grew up in a tin covered house and
    it lasted a good 45 years. The outside
    walls were wormy chestnut and double
    boxed. You couldn’t get the nails out to save your life. I have some that I saved from our bedroom when I was a kid.
    An old friend gave me a 3″ x 6″ x 6′
    stick to go on my reservoir way up in
    the mountains. He said it was nearly
    a hundred years old then, and that
    was over 20 years ago. Every time I
    remove the tin to clean it, I have
    to move the Chestnut that supports
    the covering. It makes me think of
    him…Ken

  • Reply
    Tamela
    January 20, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Metal roofs are popular here. My husband is still building our house after almost 15 years. I had found a contractor who would do it turn-key in a few months but once my husband decides something he digs in his heels and that’s that – until he digs them in somewhere else. Problem is, he rarely (if ever) finishes anything – and so after 10 years we moved into a house where half the light switches work; where only part of the light fixtures are in; where the insulation is in the attic (has been for 7 or 8 ears) but is stilled rolled in batts; where we finally got shelving in the cabinets; where the drain in the laundry room floor got plugged somewhere along the way so when the clothes washer overflowed the water didn’t go out the drain as it should have but instead flooded three rooms in the house; where the porch off the laundry room finally got put in a year ago so we can finally use that door (I wasn’t too keen on that 4 foot(!)step!); where closets and abathroom don’t have doors;where the rainwater system isn’t quite complete so he has to run out in the middle of thunderstorms and switch piping around and open tanks so the first wash of rain (welcomed when we get it) cleans the roof before he opens the tanks to collect water; and on and on. . . . We do have a metal roof: I wanted bronze, he wanted plain metal – we have plain metal.
    There are a lot of features about the house that i like but I’m not handy enough, nor agile enough these days, do finish many of the things still undone – I used to, but no more. Also, since he decided to build a metal frame house he has commanded that I cannot “poke holes in the walls” for anything because I might hit an important wire or pipe. . . . once I was quite handy but this house is his baby and I can’t touch it. At least he hasn’t taken away my gardens although my potting shed/greenhouse became my Dad’s workshop when they moved out here. . . .
    Oooh what a complainer I am! We are warm and dry and so much better off than so many folks; and for that I am deeply grateful. But when someone talks about building their own house . . . .

  • Reply
    Patti Tappel
    January 20, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Yes the metal roofs are very popular here. We have our second shingle roof in the 20 years since we built.
    When our first roof was damaged by tornado, we wanted metal. It took forever to get someone to bid on it.
    Two dealers finally came out and the bid was about a 1/4 of the cost of our house!!! So that’s why we have asphalt again ;(
    I so wanted a green metal roof.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 20, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Tipper (and brother Don)–I immediately noticed the mention of hickory shingles with some doubt. Hickory is an ornery wood which isn’t readily workable, quite unlike white oak. I’m also fairly sure that chestnut was used for shingles (it was certainly used for rail fences and telephone poles). I don’t think there are many alive who are likely to have much experience in splitting chestnut, given than it started dying out in the mountains in the late 1920s, but if it worked well with a froe, and I’m fairly sure it did, the wood would have been ideal thanks to being so rot and insect resistant.
    Jim Casada
    http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com

  • Reply
    Shirla
    January 20, 2014 at 9:45 am

    I replaced shingles with metal a few years ago. It was more expensive, but I thought it would be easier to keep clean due to the soot and mold produced by the local whiskey distillery. That was a mistake! Bleach is the only chemical that will clean it. Now the deep burgundy color is quickly becoming pink.
    When daddy and Uncle Tom built our house in the 60s, they put on a tin roof. Is that what they called metal roofs back then? Daddy always laughed as he told the story about buying the tin. The salesman asked how big the house was. Dad told him it was big enough to cover six acres (Akers).” Akers was our last name.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    January 20, 2014 at 9:45 am

    We always had tin roofs. My brother lives in the house we grew up in and it still has the same roof. We would help dad paint it every few years to keep it from rusting. I like the look of tin and I would not mind having it on our house.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    January 20, 2014 at 9:28 am

    We have just staked out the corners for our house that we are building in Brevard, NC, so we are just getting started. Our roof will be fiberglas reinforced shingles.

  • Reply
    gailatthefarm
    January 20, 2014 at 9:18 am

    I love the sound of rain on a tin roof. I grew up with that sound and now have the more modern metal roofing on our house.
    I love the old tin so much I covered my laundry area ceiling with old barn tin.

  • Reply
    steve in tn
    January 20, 2014 at 9:11 am

    have shingles but like metal…depends on style of house. no question…metal looks good and lasts. you were a pioneer 20 years ago.

  • Reply
    dolores
    January 20, 2014 at 8:51 am

    We have a shingle roof and wherever we have lived, the roofs were shingle. However, I have noticed a comeback of metal roofs. It seems as if they last longer and don’t seem to distract from the look of a home. I was thinking that I might like to do that when we have to replace our roof on our house in the foothills. I always wondered if the metal roof is noisier during a rain storm than a shingle roof.

  • Reply
    John Rawdon
    January 20, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Metal is popular in our area now but for many years most folks used shingles. I never figured that out. When I was a kid there were old houses and barns with metal roofs and now almost 50 years later many of those roofs are still doing their job but every 20 years of so shingles must be replaced. I have always prefered metal though I do like the look of wood shakes and one day plan to build at least a small building for which I will make the shakes myself. I like learning and doing things the old way often just for the experience. Have a blessed day. John

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 20, 2014 at 8:18 am

    One comment about the references from Michael Montgomery’s Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English:
    The first reference, Reminiscences, mentions making shingles out of hickory. Maybe one of the Blind Pig readers will validate that to be true, but I’m doubtful. To the best of my reading recollection, here in the mountains white oak was universally used. But also having split a lot of hickory for firewood, I know that it is much less likely to have the fine straight grain that is common in oak.
    I’d really like to hear thoughts of others on this.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 20, 2014 at 8:07 am

    There are lots of metal roofs in my area. We have older houses that are re-roofed with the new colorful metals and most of the newer houses being built have metal roofs.
    I saw one house here in Black Mountain , this was an older house that was remodeled. It was painted pink, and I mean PINK! They put a red metal roof on it and red metal awning over the windows and porch. It was/is a sight to behold. This house was not so tall, like yours and the roof can be seen from the street or even the front yard!
    Tip, I love your house in fact it’s not a house, it’s a home inside and out, and it’s beautiful!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 20, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Our house, which is over 120 year old, has had two roofs, both of which were metal. The current one is similar to the style you see on new metal roofs – long pieces with ribs spaced a foot or so apart. But the older one used a style which is closer in configuration to asphalt shingles – pieces with a bit of overlay.
    Daddy had to have the old one replaced sometime around 1990, as I recall, when some leaks developed in the old roof. I liked the old style, which had a formed shape to it, much better for several reasons – rain sounded better, the formed shape kept the water from streaming, and you could walk on it, even though the roof is steeply pitched. There is no way a body can stand up on the upper part of our roof now without the help of a rope that’s slung over the house and tied off.

  • Reply
    Laurie
    January 20, 2014 at 8:03 am

    I have a metal roof and love it. Nothing as soothing as hearing it rain on that roof, I always sleep better when it is raining at night. Mine is standard silver, but the barn across the pasture has a blue one and it sure is pretty. Lots of folks around here in south Mississippi have metal roofs.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    January 20, 2014 at 7:41 am

    I live in a house my uncle renovated from a small building built as a beauty shop (hair salon for you young folks). It has an old fashioned tin roof. There is a lot of insulation so I seldom hear the rain unless I am in bed, then I can hear it on the garage which is attached nearby . I grew up hearing the rain on the tin roof at my grandparents. We put one of the new style metal roofs on Mothers ‘s house about 15 years ago. It is a deep bronze brown which complements the dark red brick. Again, you can hardly hear the rain except on the car port. Love the sound of rain on the roof!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    January 20, 2014 at 7:40 am

    We have a shingle roof now, but our last hoe had a traditional silvery metal roof. With all the insulation required now you could not hear the rain falling though, which is something I loved at my gramma’s house.
    Insulation keeps those power bills down though.

  • Reply
    Ethelrne Dyer Jones
    January 20, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Pleasant memories of my childhood are the nights I spent at my Grandpa Collins’ house and being lulled to sleep with the sleep with the sound of rain on a tin roof. At my house, we had a roof of riven wood shingles until my Dad roofed our house with asbestos shingles. These never sounded as good in the rain as the music from the old tin roof!

  • Reply
    TimMc
    January 20, 2014 at 7:19 am

    As matter a fact they are, this last house we built, we put black metal on it, in stead of shingles. Been living here now 10yrs last November.. A lot of other houses in the neighborhood have gone with metal.. It has slowed down some since the price of metal has gone way up tho..

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull, PhD
    January 20, 2014 at 7:05 am

    No Tipper! I can’t say there is one metal roof in our neighborhood or nearby. We have shingles which are faded now and Jim ‘hints’ at maybe replacing them. He built our house and it took him TWO YEARS! He had a fellow (GREAT BRICK MASON!)from LaFollet do the brick – which were already more than a hundred years old. We bought them out of Knoxville’s old town area. EVERY brick is different – and that requires much skill to lay them right! I just love the brick! But I will share your ‘metal roof’ story with him.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    kat
    January 20, 2014 at 6:45 am

    My home has a metal roof, in fact the whole house is metal. The roof is called barn red and when the sun hits it just right,from up the road all you can see is glare. It’s so bright it’ll nearly knock your eyes out.

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