1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Anyone know how to fix an old tin roof?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by nola mike, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. nola mike

    nola mike Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    Messages:
    401
    Loc:
    Richmond/Montross, Virginia
    So after the last rain storm, I got an unexpected skylight in my upstairs bedroom :confused:

    Took down what remained of the sheetrock, and found quite a mess: One of the joists as well as some of the supports/trusses/etc were rotted to hell. Managed to replace/repair the structural damage. Went onto the roof and found a similar mess. It's the original tin roof from 1915. It had been patched/cemented countless times. What initially looked like a small area of rot turned into more. After I removed all the old coatings/tar/epoxy(?), I was left with about 4 feet of totally disintegrated roof, running right at the edge. The roof is built such that the edge of the tin curls up along the brick wall. All that is gone. Surprisingly, the rest of the roof seems to be in good shape.

    So, I'm going to attempt to repair that section. I was going to use elastomeric coating/mesh tape, but I think I'd be better off with some actual metal underneath. The plan is to buy a patch sheet of metal and try to solder it to the existing good areas. Then I'd apply the elastomeric/mesh over it.

    What kind of solder do I use? Just standard plumbing solder/flux, or is there something special? Would I be better off just using sheet metal screws? Any other suggestions?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Messages:
    6,679
    Loc:
    Next to nuke plant Berwick, PA.
    You want solder bars.
    Sadly its been a while since I did my last metal roof and forget what I used to use. I think it was 50/50.
    I used to go old school with charcoal hot pots and hand irons heated by the hot pot.
    Most use electric or propane irons these days. But they are not your typical wiring solder irons.
    Is the existing roof tin? Sounds like it. You should be able to get everything you need at a roofing supply house.
    You should research and learn how the joints are prepared and soldered. It is much more then overlapping some metal and soldering together. You want to make a lock seam then solder than.
    There ma be a good chance the rest of the roof is shot too.
    If you patch it in and do the joint & solder correctly. You should not need anything on top of it. You can paint it if you want. Whatever you do, you have to clean the surface real good when done, you want to remove the flux after your done soldering.
    Here is a few links for info.
    http://www.traditionalroofing.com/TR6_solder.html
    Pallet Pete and Fifelaker like this.
  3. nola mike

    nola mike Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    Messages:
    401
    Loc:
    Richmond/Montross, Virginia
    Yeah, I had actually seen that video. I'm not repairing a whole panel up to a seam though. This is just going to be a patch that's only 6-12" wide x 5 feet. I'm trying to figure out the best way to fasten the patch. I figure the elastomeric/acrylic top coat will waterproof the patch--I'm just using the patch to basically support the acrylic/mesh. Another issue of course is that I only see 1 roofing supply company in my area, and tomorrow is new year's eve, so who knows if they'll be open. And it's supposed to rain on New Year's day. And I have a gaping hole in the roof at the moment....
  4. nola mike

    nola mike Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    Messages:
    401
    Loc:
    Richmond/Montross, Virginia
    Oh yeah, and the rest of the roof seems to be OK, more or less. I dug away all the crap at the valley/transition from peaked-->flat in the middle of the roof, and also along the edge on the other side of the roof, and got down to shiny metal. I am concerned though that there's something lurking that I can't see. Not sure how I can check it.
  5. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Messages:
    6,679
    Loc:
    Next to nuke plant Berwick, PA.
    Temp a tarp over the problem area for now. If need be, nail or screw some lath over the perimeter of the tarp.
    Elastometric may not move as well as the metal when it expands & contracts. It might, but if it don't you have a mess to clean off.
    Your best best is to cut out the bad area, and make a 1/2" lock seam bend around the entire perimeter, then make the other 1/2" side of the lock on the patch panel, lock and flatten the lock seem tight, and solder.
    If your intend on doing without a lock seam, then make sure your patch panel is minimal 6" overlapping the perimeter of the problem area, even go 12", and make sure it is not bucking water. Where they overlap, put a nice bead of urethane caulk sealant, press the patch panel flat to the existing roof, and nail it tight every couple inches. Cover the nail heads with your elastometric, or with urethane caulk. Make sure you cover they heads completely. Either way, it is probably time to start saving for a new roof.
  6. nola mike

    nola mike Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    Messages:
    401
    Loc:
    Richmond/Montross, Virginia
    yeah, I just don't think I have the skill, time, or patience to do those lock seams. So, without that, I should caulk and nail the patch on? Won't the nails going into the sheathing be a problem? Do I use standard roofing nails?
  7. Beetle-Kill

    Beetle-Kill Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,849
    Loc:
    Colorado- near the Divide
    have you given any thought to an EPDM cover after you get it patched?
  8. FanMan

    FanMan Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2012
    Messages:
    313
    Loc:
    CT stix & upstate NY
    Wow. I'm shocked-- shocked-- that your tin roof only lasted 97 years! :)

    Do roofers these days even know how to work with those old materials (soldered tin)? Seems unlikely. Modern standing seam metal roofs are painted or galvanized steel, screwed on.
  9. nola mike

    nola mike Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    Messages:
    401
    Loc:
    Richmond/Montross, Virginia
    For some reason I thought that I'd need a whole new roof for that, but that certainly looks like an option. I'm going to get some roofers out here soon--didn't think much could be done till spring anyway. I really wasn't expecting to find the amount of patching/deterioration that I did today. It wasn't evident that the original metal was rotted until I got all the old tar off. From underneath it only looked like 2 fairly manageable holes. I have enough sheetrock work ahead of me now, I have to keep the rain out!
    @FanMan: I was hoping to celebrate its 100th birthday. There are enough old houses around here that I bet SOMEONE knows how to work on them. I did find a company that was able to work on the slate part, so I'll give them a call...
  10. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Messages:
    6,679
    Loc:
    Next to nuke plant Berwick, PA.
    You should cut the patch to size, giving anywhere from 6" too 12" overlap around the perimeter overlapping the existing roof, put a nice bead of urethane caulk between the overlap of the existing roof and new patch. Use galvanized roofing nails. every 2" or so for a tight seal(no fishmouths) and seal the mail heads good with the urethane sealant. This is a patch and may last a few years or not. Depends on how well it is applied and sealed. If you want to go the EPDM route, you can either tear off the existing metal roof and install a 1/2" fiberboard over the decking, or pound the standing seams flat and install the fiberbaord over the metal roof and then install your EPDM over top the fiberboard. There are specific plates and screws for the EPDM system and I suggest you use them as per specs, Usually 16 screws and plates per 4' x 8' board. There is a specific pattern also that you should be able to find doing a search or look at the roofing manufacturers site and installation specs. The rubber is either fully adhered with bonding adhesive, mechanically fastened, or has a river rock ballast laid over top. I suggest the fully adhered. Next choice would be the mechanically fastened system, and I highly suggest avoiding the ballast system as if you get a leak, now your moving stone to find the leak and it is a biotch to clean the rubber and get a good patch sealed down.

    The days of true tin men are long gone, last one I did was on an old fellowship church building back in the 90's. True old school with kickers, hand formers etc.
    Those roofs if properly installed will last 100 years plus. The key is to keep them cleaned and painted good to protect the tin. Most don't repaint them as needed and they rot.

    The rubber (EPDM) roofwill last forever, it is any flashings and seams that will need to be address in anywhere from 10-20 years. The membrane itself will last a very long time.
  11. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Messages:
    695
    Loc:
    SW WI
    Find hex head screws with the rubber washers that are used on pole buildings. then put your patch in like any other flashing, so the water runs from the top to bottom and won't leak without caulk, then caulk it. If the roof is good enough except for this are then do a job that will last 20 years and you might get lucky. To flash the edge against the wall, you want to run your roof patch up the wall 3" but don't fasten it to the wall, then overlap this edge with a strip that is fastened and caulked to the wall, so that they can move a bit.

Share This Page