Mansard Roof – Part 4: Upper Cornice

This is the fourth part of the mansard roof restoration. Check out Part 1: History & Planning to start from the beginning. The previous in the series is Part 3: Slating the Roof.

This post covers the upper roof line, including the crown molding and upper gutter. It also covers the radius hips and parapet ridge cap.

Crown Molding

The crown had seen better days and was one of the worse eye sores for the roof. As bad as it appeared, we were still surprised that it was original. During planning, we contemplated replacing it with copper for easier maintenance, given the difficulty of access. Once we learned it was, in fact, original, we shifted our mindset to replicating as close as possible.


We spent months working with our team to reproduce the two-piece crown molding. The molding was very weathered. While we could determine the profile, the top and bottom angles were difficult. We worked with Wood Innovations of St. Louis to cut a custom knife to replicate the molding in Sapele lumber.

With the crown molding replicated, we turned our sights to replicate the lower board the crown sits atop. This piece is likened to roofing, given that it protrudes out beyond the refuge of the gutter. We chose Western Red Cedar, commonly used for roofing shakes and shingles. The boards were originally tapered by hand. The taper allowed the board to hover above the slate and not apply pressure to the slate during expansion-contraction. I replicated the taper by ripping the nine 16-foot boards vertically on the table saw. As expected, I spent more time creating and testing the jig than pushing the boards through.

oil Paint

We spent several weeks researching the best option for paint. We knew we did not want a typical exterior alkyd paint. The biggest fear is looking up and seeing cracking paint. This exterior wood trim gets some of the worse exposure to the elements. We decided on the Allbäck linseed oil paint system imported by Sage Restoration. We mixed in zinc oxide 20% by volume to protect against mildew.

Since we were starting with new wood, we began by impregnating it with raw linseed oil. From there, we painted four coats of linseed oil paint.


There are some subtle differences with the installation, mostly seen with the blocks used for the conductor heads.

Upper Gutter

In the 1980s, the upper roof was built up with a steel standing seam and an aluminum gutter installed. The aluminum gutter was painted red. We replaced the aluminum with new copper gutters. The original drip edge was also covered.

More photos of the new upper gutter with the conductor heads next.

Conductor Heads

The roof originally had four conductor heads, and only one remained on the west side. The sheet metal crew masterfully reproduced the steel conductor heads in copper.

Originally, there were two conductor heads on the west side and one on the north and south sides. Here is an old photo showing the two conductors on the west side:

A photo from 1989 shows both of the conductor heads on the west side.

Here are the new conductor heads installed on the north, south, and west sides:

Radius Hips

The original hips were terne-coated steel and had been painted. The team replicated the radius hips using copper.

Ridge Cap

Behind the parapet is a ridge that connects to the mansard. It turns out this was the source of an on-again-off-again leak. When the team went to replace the very rusted ridge cap, they found a board underneath that was barely hanging on. Originally, there was crown molding that sat right underneath the ridge cap. For better water management and long-term maintenance, we opted to use only copper for the ridge cap and omit the crown.


The next steps are working through the final punch list and removing the scaffolding. Stay tuned for a final recap with before and after photos!


Mansard Roof – Part 3: Slating the Roof

Check out Part 1: History & Planning and Part 2: Architectural Built-in Gutters in our series covering the mansard roof restoration.

This post covers laying the slate, painting the barrel dormers, flashing, and the new skylight install.


With the architectural gutters brought back to life in Part 2, the next step is laying the slate. The goal is to match the original pattern as closely as possible.

We are using a Vermont S1-grade slate in unfading green, red, and Vermont black. Here is a photo comparing the original slate to the new slate:

Original compared to the new slate.

Slating the roof began on the north side, then the east, west, and finished on the south.

Cutting slate creates a fair amount of dust. We will see even more contrast between the different slate colors with a few good rain showers.

Flashing & Vent

With three chimneys and the parapet, there is a fair amount of flashing and counter flashing. An area that turned out more beautiful than expected was behind the parapet:

Work in progress on flashing behind the parapet.

The vent on the south side is a Lomanco Copper Exhaust Roof Louver (Model 750). Finding model 750 in copper was difficult, but from a maintenance standpoint, we are happy we tracked it down.

Lomanco Copper Exhaust Roof Louver (Model 750)

Most of the metal used throughout this project has been copper. The exceptions are aluminum for the skylight and for a drip edge for the upper roof line.

Barrel Dormers

The roof has three barrel dormers which are terne-coated steel. All three dormers are structurally sound but showing signs of rust. We aim to preserve as much of the original architectural elements as possible. Each dormer was cleaned, a base coat applied, and then several top coats. A Karnak elastomeric system was used, which is comprised of a cleaner, base, and finished coats.


The west side of the house had an aging skylight. The skylight was added sometime in the 1980s when the third floor was converted to four bedrooms. It is an important skylight, given that it is the emergency exit for the third floor and the only window for one of the four rooms.


With the slate laid, the next step is the upper roof line, radius hips, and parapet ridge cap.

Thank you for reading, Michael and Alexandria.


Mansard Roof – Part 2: Architectural Built-in Gutters

Check out Part 1: History & Planning in our series covering the mansard roof restoration.

This post covers the rebuilding of the original architectural inlaid gutters that wrap the house at the lower cornice.


The original gutters were covered, and a k-style gutter hung on the outside.

Proper water management is critical for any building. Back in the 1990s, the original built-in gutters were covered, and k-style gutters hung on the outside. There were two major issues:

  1. The south side was not finished, so water had been rushing over the decaying soffit/fascia/brick for decades.
  2. The k-style gutters were insufficient in moving the volume of water produced by the mansard. The original built-in gutters are much larger, the original architect decided drainage.


Here are photos of each side of the house with the covered gutters in various conditions, with the south side being the worst:

The most challenging and concerning aspect of this project was “the south side ruins”. Here are close-up photos showing the state of the inlaid gutters:


The team had to return to the rafters to bring the south side back to life. The rotted rafters were sistered to provide structure to build the new gutter boxes. Certainly, the biggest unknown going into the project.

We discovered that the outside of the gutter box had been trimmed to provide a slope for drainage of the galvanized metal covering into the k-style gutters. With this, a decorative piece was lost. Not only did the entire parameter of the gutter need to be increased in height, but the decorative trim needed to be added.

Mockup of the molding, ice & water shield, copper cleat, and gutter

Once the parameter framing was replaced, we turned our sights to the crown molding. We worked with Wood Innovations of St. Louis to produce the trim. We went with a hardwood, Sapele, and matched as close as possible to photos from our archives.

The crown molding serves more than decoration; it creates a structure for the copper cleat and drip edge.

Copper Inlaid

Once the carpentry was complete, the focus shifted to the copper inlaid. The first step was installing the copper cleat around the parameter. Each section was custom fabricated to fit and then soldered into place. Every dormer and chimney has a box projecting out, creating a lot of miters. All of the copper used is 20 oz.


With the architectural inlaid gutters brought back to life, all four of the downspouts were replaced with copper. Over the years, the downspouts had been replaced with PVC, and there was a mashup of different brackets.


The video starts with the downspouts, showing the new copper gutters surrounding the house, and ends with the new lower cornice with molding.

Photos of the rebuilt inlaid gutters:

How did the scary south side turn out? Here’s a before and after:


In order to protect and preserve this historic home, it all starts with water management. We couldn’t be more thrilled about what is next, the new slate roof!

At the time of writing, the team is halfway through laying the new slate. Here is a preview:

Thank you for reading, Michael and Alexandria Morgan

Continue reading Part 3: Slating the Roof.


Mansard Roof – Part 1: History & Planning

Two years in the making, this summer, we embark on the biggest project the house has seen this century, restoring the mansard roof.


When we first set eyes on the house in 2019, we knew the roof would need some work. The extant of work would take time to unravel. In this post, we will review the history and details that make up this victorian mansard roof, along with covering the scope of work and timeline.

Here are a collection of photos showing the roof over the years.

Slate Mansard

We have spent the past two years working with consultants and contractors and researching the best path ahead for the mansard roof.

Delaminating slate on the west side

The Problem

The current slate roof faces three major issues:

  1. The slate was painted in the 1990s, and as a result, many tiles are beginning to delaminate.
  2. Most of the slate is Pennsylvania black, with a life span of about 100 years.
  3. A major valley flashing is beginning to fail, resulting in a leak that was “fixed” only to be undone by the expansion/contraction during the winter.

We hired a consultant in 2020 to assess the slate. Even though the slate had been painted, we were given a life expectancy of around 20 years. The primary issue is the combination of the delaminating slate and the failing flashing. Exploring the cost of fixing a major valley became the motivator for looking at the whole mansard roof.

The Solution

Some of the black and green slate that recently arrived.

We are replacing the slate with Vermont S1 grade slate, which has a life span of up to 200 years. We are closely matching the same “floral” pattern with a combination of black, green, and red slate tiles. All flashing is being replaced with 20-ounce copper, and the original inlaid gutters are being brought back to life.

Sorry, honey, your dream kitchen will need to wait.

– A brave husband named Michael

While the slate makes up most of what you see on the mansard roof, there is a lot of water management from restoring the built-in gutters, copper flashing, and dormers.

Architectural Built-in Gutters

Restoring the original built-in gutters is nearly equal in scope and complexity to replacing the slate. In the 1990s, the original built-in gutters were covered with galvanized steel, and aluminum k-style gutters were hung. We are going back to the original built-in gutters with 20-ounce copper.

The k-style gutter hung on the outside of the covered original built-in gutter.
The rusting covered built-in gutters with the k-style hung on the outside.


Most of the metal work on the house is terne-coated steel. Three barrel dormers need restoration. Terne-coated steel requires painting and can show signs of rust in as little as a year1. To preserve the architectural detail, the rust will be cleaned up, and a special coating applied.

An angle showing two of the barrel dormers.


The upper crown has seen better days. One of the first items is extracting a sample of the crown and sending it to our millwork company in St. Louis for reproduction. We are working with the same millwork company that has reproduced the interior casing seen in the library restoration.

The crown below the ridge cap is at the end of life.

Upper Gutters

When the flat roof above the mansard was installed in the 1990s, a k-style gutter was hung and painted red. We are replacing the aluminum gutter with copper, which will sit right above the new crown. Custom copper scupper boxes are being fabricated with 3-inch downspouts leading to the inlaid gutter.

Photo of the mansard roof in 1989 with original scupper boxes before the roof was painted.


The backside of the mansard features a skylight door. It is the only window for one of the third-floor bedrooms and acts as an emergency exit. We are replacing the skylight door with a custom-ordered replacement from Velux coming from Denmark.

Radius Hip / Ridge

As mentioned, most of the metal is terne-coated steel. The radius hips and the ridge behind the front parapet will be replaced with copper.

Soffit & Fascia

The south-facing side of the house needs the most work. The number one issue was when the gutter system was hung in the 1990s; it was not continued all the way around. As a result, water has been running over the fascia and brick for decades. We are going to solve this problem by rebuilding the inlaid gutter. From there, we can replace the soffit and fascia. At a later point, we plan on repointing this side of the house.


Below is an overview of where we are at the time of writing.

  • We finalized the construction plan in February. The goal was to start work in late spring.
  • The Vermont slate is ordered in March.
  • In late March, we learned there was a delay for the Vermont Black due to slowdowns at the quarry. Either we go with a Vermont Gray Black or wait an additional ten weeks for the Vermont Black. We chose to wait for the black, which closely matches what is original to the roof. Waiting for the black slate pushed the timeline from late spring into early summer.
  • The slate arrived in St. Louis in May. We are waiting on the copper and for the team to free up from their current project.
  • Scaffolding is erected the week of July 4th. First up is removing the existing roof, shoring up the decking for underlayment, and beginning work on the inlaid gutters.

Thank you for reading, Michael and Alexandria Morgan

Continue reading Part 2: Architectural Built-in Gutters.

  1. The Slate Roof Bible by Joseph Jenkins, Third Edition, page 285 []

Restoring the Library – Part 1

When a house is used as a bed and breakfast for several decades, there are many remnants left behind. One such remnant is the second kitchen used for guest meals. We knew this space deserved more and decided it was the ideal candidate for the first room to undergo a full restoration.

The second kitchen before careful extraction.

The appliances and cabinets were in good condition, and fortunately, we were able to find a family that could take it all off our hands. My father-in-law was in town visiting from Florida, and together, we carefully dismantled the kitchen.

When we moved the cabinet holding the kitchen sink, we were delighted to see the original wood molding. Several pieces of trim were removed in order to install the cabinets. Lucky enough, we found nearly all of the missing trim piled together in a crawl space under the house.

Excited to uncover the original wood molding!

The library is an impressive little space. It is one of the rare areas with a builtin, has one of the largest windows in the house, and, for its size, originally had a fireplace. We also discovered a door had been walled off leading into the bathroom.

The next step in restoring the library is carefully pulling up the new flooring with the goal is restoring the original wood underneath, along with installing the original wood trim and opening up the door to the bathroom. Stay tuned!

The library after the second kitchen was removed.
Trim with original handmade nails intact, with a near-perfect match!