Most people who buy a mid-century modern home do so because they love the design and features of this particular style of home. While mid-century homes may offer a number of different unique features and principles, a common characteristic of these homes is the low profile of the roof, which gives the home clean lines and a more sophisticated, modern look than other traditional home styles.

If your home's roof is in need of replacement, or if you're taking on a mid-century reno project to restore the home and return it to its modernist glory, you'll need be mindful of the roofing requirements and constraints specific to many of these mid-century modern homes. Here's a look at the common roof types and possible roofing solutions to consider when working on a mid-century house.

Common Roof Types for Mid-Century Style Homes

While mid-century home styles can feature a wide range of innovative design elements—including rounded roofs, cantilevered structures, and tiered home designs, among others—certain home styles were more prevalent than others. If you're working on a mid-century renovation that involves the home's roof, you might be dealing with one of the following common roof styles:

  • Flat roof. One of the most distinctive features of many mid-century modern homes is the flat, or mostly flat modern roof. While the low profile of this roof makes for attractive, clean lines on a home, these mid-century, flat-roof houses can be at a higher risk of water leaks since the roof's drainage is slower. This flat design, and the risk of leaking, will affect the recommended types of roofing for your home.
  • Low-profile. While not as clean and horizontal as a flat roof, low-profile graded roofs still offer a lower profile in line with mid-century design ideals. They also offer improved water drainage, and can enable vaulted ceilings in the home's interior.
  • A-frame. While not exclusively a mid-century home design, A-frames go the opposite direction of modern homes with a flat roof, and instead incorporate the clean lines of a steep roof grade into a modern home design that offers excellent drainage.

In addition to these options, some mid-century homes may have more conventional roofs that can be roofed using traditional roofing options.

Roofing Tips When Building a New Mid-Century Modern Home

As with any home, the materials choices you make for a mid-century home affect not only your budget, but also the durability of that roof and, in many cases, its curb appeal. Here are some tips to help you navigate these choices and arrive at the best roofing solution for you and your home:

  • Consider your home's aesthetic. If your mid-century home is built to impress, you may think an aesthetically pleasing roof is worth the investment. Wood roofing, metal, or even stone tiling can offer great curb appeal that uplifts the appearance of your entire home.
  • Be mindful of the life expectancy of any material you choose. Certain high-end roofing materials, such as wood shingling, can look great on your home, but may not last as long on your home. In addition, a low slope will inevitably increase the exposure of your roof to standing water, which could cause wood shingles to degrade faster.
  • Inspect your home for past signs of leaking. If you identify water damage that seems likely to have come from the roof in the past, it could indicate an increased risk of leaking due to the home's design. If possible, find out when the leaking occurred and what type of roofing materials were on the home at the time. If you can't find these answers, you should keep an eye for new signs of water damage once your new roof has been installed.

Roofing Options for Modern Homes With a Flat Roof

Because of the high risk of drainage issues and leaks, modern homes with a flat roof may benefit from special roofing materials that are particularly resistant to water and potential leaking.

PVC, for example, is popular as a roofing material on flat roofs because of its ability to offer a waterproof seal protecting the home. PVC also won't absorb standing water, and it can provide a smooth service that facilitates water drainage on a very low roof slope. Similarly, metal roofing can be effective for any roof with a slope of two inches or greater. While metal can be susceptible to leaking around the edges, and is more expensive than PVC roofing, it is also incredibly durable and should last for decades.

In some cases, a flat roof—particularly one made from concrete—may be effectively roofed with modified bitumen, which is a low-cost asphalt membrane that can provide a seal against water at a lower cost than other roofing materials. The drawback of modified bitumen is that its lifespan can be as short as 10 years, and it is prone to blistering and cracking due to exposure to the weather elements. For homeowners seeking a stylish roofing finish for their modern roof, this may also be an aesthetically unappealing option.

If you're unsure on the best approach to re-roofing your mid-century modern home, seek out the help of a trusted local roofing expert that can evaluate your home and recommend solutions based on your budget and other priorities. Given the cost of replacing your home's roof, you can protect your investment and your home by making sure your project is handled by a professional.