Roofing in Romania: Lessons From the Past

[Editor’s Note: In May, Thomas W. Hutchinson presented a paper at the 2017 International Conference on Building Envelope Systems and Technologies (ICBEST) in Istanbul, Turkey, as did his good friend, Dr. Ana-Maria Dabija. After the conference, Hutchinson delivered a lecture to the architectural students at the University of Architecture in Bucharest, Romania, and spent several days touring Romania, exploring the country’s historic buildings and new architecture. Convinced that readers in the United States would appreciate information on how other countries treat roofing, he asked Dr. Dabija to report on roof systems in Romania in the first of what is hoped to be a series of articles on roofing in foreign countries.]

Photo 1. Sanctuary in Sarmizegetusa Regia. Photo: Oroles. Public Domain.

Photo 1. Sanctuary in Sarmizegetusa Regia. Photo: Oroles. Public Domain.

Romania is somewhere in the Southeastern part of Europe, in a stunning landscape: an almost round-shaped country, with a crown of mountains—Carpathians—that close the Transylvanian highlands, with rivers that flow towards the plains, that merge into the Danube and flow to the Black Sea.

Conquered by the Romans in 106 A.D, crossed by the migrators between the fourth and the eighth centuries, split in three historic provinces—Walachia, Moldova and Transylvania—and squeezed between empires, Romania absorbed features from all the people and civilizations that passed through or stayed in its territories.

The language—Latin in its structure—has ancient Dacian words that blend in with words from languages from other countries that had influence in our history: Greek, French, Turkish, English, Slavonic, Serbian, German, Hungarian. Traditional foods vary by region; for instance, in Transylvania you won’t find fish, while at the seaside, in the Danube Delta, on the banks of the rivers, fish is traditional. Each historic province uses different ingredients and developed recipes that can be found in Austria and Hungary, in Greece and Turkey, in Russia and Ukraine.

The same applies to buildings. In Transylvania, the Austrian Empire hallmarked the houses in the villages, the mansions, the palaces, the churches, the administrative buildings. One of the most popular sites for foreign tourists is the Bran Castle, infamous home of Dracula. In Walachia, the buildings have strong Balkan influences. Close to the Black Sea, the Turkish and the Greek communities that settled there brought the style of the countries they came from. Moldova was under the influence of the Russian Empire reaching back to Peter the Great.

Photo 2. Densuș church, Hațeg County, has a roof made of stone plates. Photo: Alexandru Baboș, Creative Common Attribution.

Photo 2. Densuș church, Hațeg County, has a roof made of stone plates. Photo: Alexandru Baboș, Creative Common Attribution.

Romania is situated in the Northern hemisphere, about halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. The climate features hot, dry summers with temperatures that can rise to 113 degrees Fahrenheit in the South, and cold winters, with temperatures that can drop to minus 22 degrees in the depressions of Transylvania, with heavy snow and strong winds. There are some spots with milder temperatures, close to the sea and in the western part of the country.

Why all this introduction? Because specific geographic conditions lead to specific building systems. People living in areas with abundant rain and snow need materials and systems that resist and shed water; after all, the steeper the slope, the faster the water is evacuated off the roof.

Cultural influences color the patrimony, but climatic conditions define the geometry and the materials that are used for roofs. As there are different climatic conditions as well as diverse cultural influences, the building typologies of the roofs are, in their turn, diverse.

Ancient Settlements

Photo 3. Below-ground cottage in the Village Museum in Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

Photo 3. Below-ground cottage in the Village Museum in Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

Although these territories were inhabited for millennia, the roofs did not “travel” in time as long as the walls. The six ancient citadels of the Dacians, located almost in the center of Romania in the southwestern side of the Transylvanian highlands, still preserve ruins of the limestone, andesite or wooden columns of the shrines, altars, palaces and agoras. No roofs survived. (See Photo 1.) We can only presume that the materials that were used for the roofing were wood shingles or thatch, which would explain both why artefacts of the roofs could not be found and also why the deterioration is so advanced.

After Rome conquered Dacia, emperor Trajanus built a citadel that was supposed to represent continuity with the previous civilization: the Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana. It seems to have had an active life, considering the temples, palaces and dwellings that we inherited, including an amphitheater for 5,000 people. Still, no roofing traces survived.

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Asphalt Roofing Solution Provides Cedar Shake Alternative

IKO offers an asphalt roofing solution as an alternative to wood shakes.

IKO offers an asphalt roofing solution as an alternative to wood shakes.

As an alternative to traditional cedar shakes, IKO offers an asphalt roofing solution, IKO Armourshake premium shingles.

Dimensional Wood Shake Look

Premium roofing shingles are continuing to gain popularity with building owners and roofing professionals for many reasons, namely for their durability and affordability compared with traditional wood shakes.

Manufactured with color-blending technology, Armourshake shingles feature a dimensional profile with a contoured design. The Armourshake profile also rivals the look of hand-hewn, random-cut cedar shakes without the added upkeep and expense.

Also, with cedar and other woods used to construct natural wood shakes, the finished look may take a few years to fully develop. However, with Armourshake shingles, building owners can choose the weathered shake look they desire in one of five rich color blends, including Chalet Wood, Greystone, Shadow Black, Western Redwood and Weathered Stone.

The roofing shingles also offer weather resistance thanks to their construction.

Unlike real wood shakes that are flammable, Armourshake shingles have earned the Class A Fire Resistance rating tested against ASTM E108 (by FM). Plus, they resist the type of fading, warping and breakage that can occur over time with natural wood shake shingles.

Premium Accessories for a Finishing Touch

When installing the shingle, it is ideal to pair it with a ridge cap shingle to complete the look in both aesthetic and performance qualities.

An addition to the IKO PRO4 roofing component system, IKO’s Ultra HP High Profile Ridge Cap Shingles have been designed to complement the aesthetics and performance attributes of IKO’s premium shingle offerings, including IKO Armourshake, as well as IKO Crowne Slate and IKO Royal Estate shingles.

For more information on Armourshake premium shingles and IKO’s full line of roofing products and solutions, visit the website.

Historic Home Gets a Refresh with a Striking New Copper Roof

Anyone who spends time in Connecticut finds themselves in a place with deep historical roots that stretch back to colonial times. It is an inherent part of the charm of the state and something in which residents take great pride.

Along with delivering the performance desired by the homeowners, the copper roof maintains the traditional look and feel of the house.

Along with delivering the performance desired by the homeowners, the copper roof maintains the traditional look and feel of the house.

There is a real, tangible window to this rich historical tradition in many of the historic homes and buildings all across the state. Great care has been taken to preserve the look and operation of many historic structures and to integrate them into the architectural fabric of communities all around Connecticut.

Like many places and institutions in the state, Litchfield County has a history that goes back to pre-Revolutionary days. Established as a county in 1719, Litchfield County was home to Harriett Beecher Stowe and was also where Sarah Pierce established in 1792 the Litchfield Female Academy, one of the first major educational institutions for women and girls in the U.S.

Today, Litchfield County has 166 properties and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Staying true to the architectural heritage of the state is very important to the people who live there. However, just because a home or building looks like it did a few hundred years ago doesn’t mean it has to operate that way, too. Many owners of historic homes want to bring the function of their houses into modern times while still keeping the look and feel of the past.

This was the case for homeowners in Litchfield County who wanted to make some modern improvements while still preserving the traditional look and feel of their home in Sharon, Conn. For this work, the homeowners turned to the professionals at Anderson Enterprises, a general contracting building and renovation firm in Sharon. The project started with modest goals in mind but quickly grew.

“We were initially hired to replace four oak floors,” recalls Ellen Burcroff with Anderson Enterprises. “That was then extended to changing the mouldings, re-plastering, painting, renovating the third floor and master bedroom, as well as rebuilding the chimney and replacing the roof.”

Anderson Enterprises won the job after an interview. “Our goal was to get the homeowners into a more pleasing interior,” Burcroff says.

The entire home features a brass snow-retention system. PHOTO: MetalPlus LLC

The entire home features a brass snow-retention system. PHOTO: MetalPlus LLC

As part of the interior overhaul, the project included providing the home with proper ventilation and insulation. Along with delivering the performance desired by the homeowners, maintaining the traditional look and feel of the house was extremely important. Performing this kind of retrofit on a historic home without damaging the exterior often means going in through the roof, which was what was decided upon for this project. Removing the old wood shake roof meant installing a new one. The contractor believed this was a perfect time for a change.

“The customers wanted a historically authentic look,” Burcroff explains. “We strongly recommended not using wood shingles again. Ultimately, we all decided on using copper for the new roof.”

A copper roof was a perfect solution for this project for many reasons. On a performance level, the homeowners were interested in the durability and energy efficiency of copper. Aesthetically, copper delivers a striking curb appeal that is still in keeping with the historic nature of the home. And its natural patina will only enhance the look of the home over time.

GETTING IT DONE

With the appropriate decisions made, Anderson Enterprises’ team started work on the home. The wood shakes and wood lath were removed, exposing the rafters underneath. Fiberglass insulation was installed with about a 2-inch space left above the rafters for airflow.

PHOTOS: VLC IMAGES MOBILE STUDIO, COURTESY MARIO LALLIER, unless otherwise noted

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Traditional Wood Shakes Are Made of High-strength Steel

The Roser Stone Wood Shake pairs the aesthetic beauty of the traditional wood shake with the low maintenance and exceptional performance of high-strength steel.

The Roser Stone Wood Shake pairs the aesthetic beauty of the traditional wood shake with the low maintenance and exceptional performance of high-strength steel.

The Roser Stone Wood Shake pairs the aesthetic beauty of the traditional wood shake with the low maintenance and exceptional performance of high-strength steel. Tested against the elements, Stone Wood Shake by Roser has been tempered against hurricanes, fires, hail storms and earthquakes and has proven its durability and protection for your greatest investment—your home.

The roofing system includes:

  • Clear acrylic over-glaze protective coating
  • Roofing granule coating
  • Adhesive basecoat
  • Protective surface coating
  • Aluminum/zinc coating
  • Commercial-grade steel core
  • Protective surface coating

The Stone Coated Steel Roofing System, manufactured by Roser, offers the advantage of high-strength steel with a look a variety of traditional and innovative architectural styles. When compared to asphalt shingles and concrete roofing products, which can weigh 350 to 1,000 pounds per square, the Roser Stone Coated Roofing System, at only 150 pounds per square, effectively reduces the overhead weight on the house structure. This provides for a much safer building during an earthquake, fire or a hurricane. While the standard shingle and shake roofs naturally deteriorate over time, the Roser Roofing System will continue to maintain its beautiful appearance and requires the least amount of maintenance in the roofing industry. An eco-friendly Roser roof will increase the resale value of your home not only with its elegance, but also with its proven durability.

About Roser Roofing System:

  • Installs direct to deck or over battens.
  • Stone surface resists fading and provides for a quiet roof.
  • Fastener design features a confirmed and a locking profile.
  • Low-maintenance roof system with water-shedding performance.
  • Storm driven engineering design is proven throughout the world.
  • Includes the stringent Miami-Dade Approval.

Metal Resembles Clay and Wood

Presidio Metal Roofing from CertainTeed Corp. replicates the appearance of natural clay tile and wood shake.

Presidio Metal Roofing from CertainTeed Corp. replicates the appearance of natural clay tile and wood shake.


Presidio Metal Roofing from CertainTeed Corp. replicates the appearance of natural clay tile and wood shake. The high-performance, aesthetically pleasing steel alloy panels feature a patented anti-corrosive coating with cool roof technology. ENERGY STAR-qualified, Presidio is manufactured with up to 50 percent recycled material and is 100 percent recyclable when removed. Its solar-reflective, fade-resistant surface can significantly lower roof temperature, decreasing the amount of heat transferred into a home. The lightweight product, which does not require battens, contains overlaps that conceal the joints. Presidio resists winds exceeding 110 mph, is Class IV impact-resistant-rated and can be installed to achieve a Class-A fire rating.