Not All Capitol Hill Roofs Are Flat

As a matter of fact you will see more sloped roofs on the hill than you might think. Bob Smith and his partners own a few residential rental properties, and one of these, on 11th St. SE, has a very steep-sloped roof. Its maintenance presented a challenge to the owners, who were more familiar with maintenance issues on flat and low-slope roofs. The roof was originally a standing-seam tin roof that was very old and had been repaired and patched many times. At the nadir of the roof was a built-in gutter, so badly deteriorated that the underlying wood was completely decayed. The gutter had warped over the years, and water had a tendency to pool rather than drain properly, accelerating the decay process of the underlying wood. Water was seeping into the building.

Bob and his partners were renovating the internal living space (including replacement of the ceilings damaged from roof and gutter leaks), which was a very extensive project. While we had repaired and maintained the roof for them over the years we advised that a permanent solution was necessary, which coincided with the timing of the internal renovation work. So the project expanded to include roof replacement.

Replacing the roof with the original standing-seam tin was an option, but tin roofs are quite expensive and the availability of the product today is limited. Copper roofs last forever but are one of the most expensive types of roofing systems on the market.

That led to discussion of an aluminum roof as a replacement alternative. Aluminum is one of the longest-lasting metals, does not warp, crack, or burn, and is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and rust-proof. The environmental benefits are also significant. Aluminum has high natural reflectivity and low emissivity (low level of radiant heat), increasing a building’s efficiency and reducing air-conditioning costs. The product is typically made of 80 percent or more recycled materials and is fully recyclable, making it one of the most environmentally sound building materials. Properly installed aluminum roofs require minimal maintenance and do not need to be repainted.

The many benefits of aluminum roofing made it the product of choice for this renovation project. This was a big job that required strong project management capabilities, coordinated with the interior renovation work. It involved installation of scaffolding, high carpentry and sheet-metal expertise, and working with sophisticated safety equipment. During the removal of the old roofing materials it was discovered that a significant portion of the vinyl siding connected to the roof also needed to be replaced, and that became part of the project.

The completion of the roofing project and the interior renovation gave the building owners both peace of mind and confidence that they could obtain a good price in the rental market. They knew their investment would increase the value of the property whether they held it for the long or short term.

Tom Daniel is owner and general manager of R. Thomas Daniel Roofing, a third-generation family enterprise that has been doing business in Capitol Hill for more than 90 years. Tom is a hill resident, and the company is the recommended roofer of Capitol Hill Village. He can be reached at 202-569-1080 or Visit the company website at

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