Virginia church with embossed tin shingles…and rust

In May 2012, this email arrived from St. James Episcopal, Louisa,Virginia.

What a delight to find your website and photos as we assess the need to recoat the roof on our 1881 church in the Town of Louisa, Virginia. Louisa church beforeThe roof was replaced in 1995 with zinc coated (2 oz rather than usual 1, so the notes say) steel with a lovely stamped pattern. In the last year or so, we are having rusting below the steeple. There was copper on a skirt up there which we removed a few years ago to keep the conflict of materials from continuing to occur, which we know caused the exposure of the metal most severely at this spot.

As you can see from the photos attached, the metal is rusting mostly beneath the bell tower, but we know the entire roof needs to be coated. Paint was ever applied to the original. No one locally seems to know either what needs to be done to this kind of roof (they are used to the standing seam metal roofs) nor quite how to do the job on the steep roof. One of your examples is of a church very much our twin, so I thought to write and see what you might suggest.

First of all, as you look at the closeup, do you see anything that needs immediate attention? If not, can you give us an idea of how much it cost to clean, prepare and coat the church roof on your website?

We don’t know if we are looking at a few thousand or many thousands of dollars and will need to do some fundraising accordingly. We want the job done well and it seems you travel as far as SC to do work…if you have anyone coming through the Richmond/Charlottesville corridor, might we be able to receive a quote from RoofMenders?

It seems from your website that you know a great deal about and treasure these historic structures, so we welcome anything you might be able to share with us.

After decades of working with manufacturers directly, their guidance on what works…and what does not work…has been invaluable for situations like this one.

In this case we decided to combine the use of three products, top coating with Wearcoat. That arrangements with the manufacturer was the easy, quick step.

The congregation’s choice of color took longer. Considerable deliberation is important because the roof dominates the structure. The church members selected a traditional grey.

Now that the roof has been restored, the steeple area now appears extremely worn. If all goes well, the steeple work will be done in 2014.

Update: Copper church steeple