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The Fascinating History of Roofing

Ancient homes with stone roofs in a row

Brick, wood, mud, leaves, grass, stone, straw, sticks, and animal skin. What do all of these items have in common? Humans have used them to make roofs at some point in history.

Roofs have existed for thousands of years. Water, food, and shelter are paramount to human survival. The roofing industry was born out of humans’ need for shelter. Without a solid roof, you aren’t protected from the elements.

Today, most roofs are made of asphalt, clay and concrete, metal, and synthetic materials. But roofs weren’t always made from these materials. While some materials date back to 10,000 B.C., other common roof materials weren’t invented until much later.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the fascinating history of roofing and show how it shaped the modern roofs we know today. Let’s dive into the history of roofing.

History of Roofing Materials

Roofing materials have evolved over the last several thousand years.

One of the most popular historic roofing materials still in use today is the clay roofing tile. Today, it’s mass-produced by machines, but it was first made by hand in China. Let’s take a closer look at its origins.

10,000 B.C.

Evidence of the first clay roof tiles was found in China, dating back to 10,000 B.C. Clay roofing tiles were also common around the same time in the Middle East and Europe for centuries.

The 1600s

By the 17th Century, European settlers had introduced clay tile to America, and it was used in many structures.

The 1700s-1800s

Throughout the 1700s and 1800s, clay roofing tiles remained popular in American buildings. Fire and building codes at the time recommended using clay roof tiles due to their durability and fireproofing properties.

What were roofs made out of in the 1800s? Clay roofs were the choice for Colonial Americans. In the mid-19th Century, sheet metal tile roofs were introduced as substitutes for clay tiles. Near the end of the 19th Century, concrete roofing tiles came onto the market.

Wood shingles were also popular in America in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

The 1900s

At the start of the 20th Century, concrete tiles became a popular choice for roofs. They are a cheaper and lighter alternative to clay tiles while still mimicking the style and look of the classic clay tile look.

Concrete tiles are still a popular roof choice today!

1920s Roofing Materials

Asphalt shingles were invented in 1903 by a contractor from Michigan. By the 1920s, many Americans had traded their wooden roof shingles for asphalt shingles, which are still used in residential and commercial roofs today. 

History of Roofing Techniques

Roofing techniques have evolved over the years. Although nail guns weren’t invented until the 1950s, they revolutionized the construction industry, enabling workers to get jobs done quicker and safer.

Before nail guns were invented, roofers had to nail shingles by hand. New technology and innovations continue to make life easier for roofers. For example, now there are anti-slip pants that can prevent roofers from sliding off roofs.

Popular Roof Types Throughout History

Different types of roofs have existed throughout history. For example, mansard roofs were popular in America during the mid-to-late 1800s, while mansard roofs were popular in America during the mid-to-late 1800s. However, hip roofs were more popular in the early 1800s.

Meanwhile, polyurethane dome houses were typical between the 1960s and 1970s. You probably don’t see these types of homes in your average neighborhood anymore.

The earliest recorded dome-shaped buildings date back thousands of years. The structures were reportedly made from woolly mammoth tusks and bones.

Some of the most famous historical buildings worldwide, such as the Sistine Chapel in Rome and the Taj Mahal in India, have dome roofs.

Building a Great Future for Your Roofing Business

Learning about where we come from can help us understand where we’re going. As you can see, the roofing industry wouldn’t be where it is today without innovation.

That’s why it’s essential for roofing professionals to continue pushing boundaries and discovering better ways to do their jobs.

Roofing software is essential in bringing roofing companies into the 21st Century. Roofing software like JobNimbus can help contractors streamline their workflow, optimize sales, and build better quotes.

So, what are you waiting for? Start a free 14-day trial with JobNimbus today.

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