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Common Roofing Materials Used in Bath, Somerset

Bath, Somerset

Bath is a historic city in the county of Somerset that is renowned for its beautiful Georgian architecture and honey-coloured Bath Stone buildings. The city has over 5,000 listed buildings, many featuring the iconic shallow-pitched roofs common in the Georgian and Regency eras. As a roofing contractor based in Bath, Empire Roofing has extensive experience working with the various traditional and modern roofing materials used on local properties. Below we discuss some of the most common options seen across Bath and the surrounding villages and towns.

Slate roofs

Slate is one of the most iconic and commonly used roofing materials in Bath and the rest of Somerset. Slate has been quarried and used for roofing in the South West of England since the Roman times. The stone’s durability, beauty, and natural waterproofing properties make it ideal for the region’s damp climate.

Local slate sources such as the famous Wiltshire slate mines around Corsham produce high quality slate tiles and shingles perfect for historic homes and buildings. Slate is a popular roofing choice for Georgian and Victorian era homes and terraces across Bath. It comes in shades of grey, purple, green and blue. Roofers carefully select slates to create stunning natural patterns on period roofs.

Compared to other roofing options, natural slate is very durable and when properly installed can last well over 100 years. We frequently carry out slate roof repairs, replacements and maintenance across Bath, relying on the expert skills of our slaters to handle the fragile stone tiles. Common issues we resolve include damaged/missing slates, loose fixings, cracked/slipped slates and leaks.

Exposure to the elements can erode softer slates over time. Pollution and acidic rain slowly dissolves limestone particles in the slate. This leads to a loss of the mineral grains which make the surface waterproof. Empire Roofing offers slate re-roofing using salvaged or new slate tiles to restore older roofs to their former glory. For listed buildings, we match new slate carefully to the old to provide an authentic finish.

Roofshield Felt

Roofshield is a BBA (British Board of Agrément) certified roofing underlay that provides secondary protection underneath tiles and slates. This high-performance membrane acts as an extra barrier against wind driven rain and moisture. Roofshield is an ideal underlay for the wet climate of the South West.

At Empire Roofing, we often use Roofshield felt when carrying out roof refurbishments in Bath and the surrounding region. The product is suitable for use under nearly all common roof coverings. We frequently install Roofshield on top of rafters and sarking boards on pitched roofs prior to retiling.

The felt is easy to cut and work with compared to traditional bitumen products. It is also lightweight, flexible and highly breathable. This prevents moisture being trapped under the tiles or slates, which can lead to mould growth and rot.

Key benefits of the Roofshield roofing underlay:

  • Highly water resistant yet breathable
  • Can be used at pitches down to 15°
  • Lightweight and flexible for easy installation
  • Resists tearing and abrasions
  • Won’t crack or dry out over time
  • 25 year product guarantee

Empire Roofing Bath finds Roofshield delivers reliable secondary weather protection for heritage homes in Bath. Contact us today to find out more or get a quote for your re-roofing project.

Lead roofs

Lead has been used as a roofing material for centuries thanks to its durability and waterproofing abilities. The malleable metal lends itself to creative applications in architecture. Lead is a signature roofing material seen on many churches, mansions and historic buildings across Bath.

Traditional lead roofing takes the form of sheet lead, lead rolls and flashings. It is also frequently used for damp-proof courses and roof drainage elements like gutters and downpipes. Empire Roofing specialises in the repair and restoration of lead roofs and features across the region.

Our expertly trained roofers carry out:

  • Full lead roof replacements and renewals
  • Step flashing and apron flashing replacements
  • Lead roof repairs and seam welding
  • Lead gutter and valley gutter repairs
  • Custom lead roof fabrications and flashings
  • Damp-proof course replacements

We source high quality lead rolls and flashing from UK suppliers. Our teams take great care when working with lead on fragile historic roofs. We avoid the use of power tools to prevent accidental piercing of the lead sheets.

Over time lead naturally forms a protective patina. But environmental pollution and runoff can gradually erode and damage the surface. Signs that a lead roof needs attention include cracking, splits, thinning, nail fatigue and loose flashings. Left unchecked, moisture can penetrate and cause rot in the underlying structure.

Empire Roofing offers professional lead roof repairs, maintenance and replacements across Bath. Our expert roofers can inspect your leadwork and provide solutions to restore its waterproofing abilities and aesthetic appeal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main benefits of a slate roof?

Slate is naturally waterproof and extremely durable. It also has an attractive appearance and is ideal for listed buildings. Good quality slate can easily last over 100 years when properly installed and maintained.

Is a slate roof expensive?

Natural slate is more expensive than concrete or clay tiles. However, it’s a high performance roofing material that pays for itself over the long run due to its longevity. Slate also enhances the value of historic period homes.

What causes slate roofs to fail?

Common issues include damaged/missing slates, nail fatigue, deterioration of the underlying roof structure and incorrectly installed underlay. Pollution and weathering degrades the slates over time. Lack of maintenance also shortens the lifespan of a slate roof.

How often should a lead roof be inspected?

We recommend getting lead roofs inspected at least once a year. Biannual inspections are better for older leadwork or roofs near coasts or trees. This helps spot any cracks, faults or deterioration early.

How long do lead roofs last?

When properly maintained, a lead roof can last over 100 years. Old lead roofs may last hundreds of years if the lead has developed a protective patina and the structure underneath remains sound.

Why is Roofshield felt a good underlay choice?

Roofshield combines water resistance with breathability. This provides a secondary barrier against rain but still allows vapour to escape, preventing moisture build up under the slates/tiles. It’s easy to install and suitable for low roof pitches.


Bath offers a great diversity of historic and listed buildings featuring all kinds of traditional and modern roofing materials. Empire Roofing has the expertise to work with delicate period roofs as well as installing, repairing and replacing more contemporary options. For a roofing contractor you can rely on to restore and protect your property, contact us today. We service residential and commercial clients across Bath, Somerset and the surrounding counties.