Historical School Gets Synthetic Slate Roof

The synthetic slate roof on this historic school stayed true to the original roof color pattern while adding decades of protection from the elements.

Replacing the roof on a historic structure takes a great deal of coordination. To preserve the celebrated status of the building, you need to involve a qualified architectural firm along with the State Historic Preservation Office. Then you must find a roofing material that meets the specific needs of the project. After that, you need a superior installation team.

All these factors came together recently for one special project in Kings Park, New York, where there’s now a synthetic slate roof on a historical school.

Originally constructed as the K-12 Kings Park School in 1928, the R.J.O. Intermediate School now houses grades 4 and 5. It’s also the only school community in the United States to serve as home to a town heritage museum (the Leo P. Ostebo Kings Park Heritage Museum).

Watch Out Below!

Now almost 100 years old, the original slate tile roof on the school/museum had started to crumble in recent years. Worse than that, tiles occasionally slid off and crashed below. This created a real safety hazard. The weight of the roof also caused areas of the roof to sag. In addition, the gutters were in dire need of replacement.

“All these factors combined, and we knew it was time to replace this roof,” says Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Timothy T. Eagen with Kings Park Central School District in New York. “We wanted to replicate the unique roof. But to complicate this situation, the original building had been extended a few times over the years. Each time a slightly different slate roof pattern and color was used. Now we needed a unified look that mimicked the historic slate.”

The color pattern for the synthetic slate roof on this historic school was worked out several times on plywood before applying the new tiles to the roof. DaVinci Synthetic Slate Solutions

The school district turned to H2M architects + engineers out of Melville, New York, for assistance. The team there recommended DaVinci Multi-Width Slate roofing. The lightweight nature of the product, compared to heavy real slate, helped immediately solve one problem. The product’s Class A fire and Class 4 impact resistancy offered other solutions. Above all, the composite tiles resist chipping, cracking and breaking.

Next came consideration for color and pattern.

“DaVinci has dozens of colors available,” says Eagen. “They set up various mock-ups of patterns on plywood for us. This was done 5 or 6 times until we got the color and pattern to match our original roof. We didn’t need a custom color, but they were able to work with the existing colors to create a custom blend to  match the existing roof. This worked out perfectly for us. At a distance, there is no way to tell that this is a polymer roof and not real slate.”

Once the product and colors were chosen and approved by the school district, there was one more hurdle. A presentation was made to the State Historic Preservation Office. The review team there was equally impressed with the quality and authenticity of the DaVinci product. They gave the composite roofing their immediate approval.

Up on the Composite Roof

With the initial work finished on the project, it was now time for roofers to install the product. Milcon Construction was hired to remove the old roof system and make deck repairs. After that, they put up the DaVinci composite slate, copper flashing, leaders, gutters and snow guards.

The West Babylon, New York-based company has worked on several school structures in the past. However, this was the first DaVinci roofing system installed by the Milcon team.

“Our crew loved working with the DaVinci materials,” says Ed Varricchio, director of business development with Milcon Construction Corp. “Installation was easier and quicker than natural slate because of the product’s lightweight nature when handling. It’s a durable product and I hope we get to work with it on other projects in the future.

“For the R.J.O. Intermediate School, we knew how important the creation of the color pattern was on this roof. Our team prepared mock-ups of the pattern in advance to assure we replicated it perfectly.”

Thanks to the authentic color pattern, the synthetic slate roof on this historic school helped keep its history intact for generations to come. Topping Off with Snow Guards

The 20,000-square foot roof took the Milcon team about two months to complete. A final step was the installation of the Alpine SnowGuards®, specified by H2M architects + engineers.  The pad-style PD 10 and PD 10R copper snow guards were placed in an offset three-row layout around the building’s perimeter, following technical specifications from Alpine SnowGuards.

“Our area can get up to 23 inches of snow in a major storm, so the snow guards are really important,” says Eagen. “The new composite slate roof has already held up to a 16.7-inch storm. The snow guards have served their desired purpose by keeping the snow from ‘avalanching’ down on key walkways.”

According to Eagen, the project overall was a success. The new synthetic slate roof on the historic school matches the old roof. Residents in the area are pleased. And, the project was completed on schedule. “Milcon’s flexibility to ensure the District and the community’s vision came to fruition was excellent,” says Eagen. “This project could have been a huge headache, but it went relatively smoothly.”

“We’re especially proud of the work we’ve completed on this school project,” says Scott Miller, president and founder of Milcon Construction. “While every roof Milcon completes is important, most are not noticeable from the ground. The aesthetic look of the DaVinci roof is amazing and highly visible to all. From our experience, we are now recommending DaVinci synthetic slate to our customers and looking forward to using the product again soon.”