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A Brief History of Roofing

Last updated 5 years ago

From the earliest days of man’s efforts to build structures for the purpose of shelter, roofing has evolved as the roof became not only a structure of function, but one of form, as well. Early man used earth and plant material to cover their shelters, as those were the available resources they had.

Clay or earthenware roofing tiles first appeared in China between 10,000 – 5,000 years ago. From there, the use of tiles traveled to Babylon, through Egypt and into Greece and then Rome. The Romans really made the use of clay tiles into an art form; Rome was known as “the city of tiled roofs”. As the Roman Empire expanded its rule, the use of tiled roofs spread vastly throughout Europe. However, the use of other available roofing materials continued, especially the use of thatching and natural materials, as they were much less expensive.

In the 12th century, King John of England changed the path of roofing when he issued a law that forbade the use of thatching, reeds and other easily combustible roofing materials. This began a need for mass produced roofing materials. Production of industrial roofing tiles began around 1805. It would be another 100 years until concrete tiles were created. The popularity of clay roofing tiles grew dramatically with the evolution of transportation methods. As steam locomotives began to allow for ease of distribution, demand increased, and as demand increased, the production of clay tiles switched from manual to machinery.

The first use of composite roofing materials was in New England in the 1840s, using felted or woven fabric covered with a tar-like substance. This method evolved as fabrics began being saturated with asphalt and a mixture of materials such as sand, limestone and powdered gravel. The first true composite roofing was made of coal tar which was impregnated into a rolled felt and covered with fine gravel.

Around the start of the 20th century, asphalt roofing evolved into individual shingles. With encouragement coming in the form of the National Board of Fire Underwriters efforts to eliminate wood shingle roofs, the demand for asphalt shingles grew dramatically. Manufacturers started experimenting with the way they cut the shingles – using different shapes, sizes and patterns, as well as introducing a variety of colors. Today, customers can choose from countless different styles, shapes, strengths and colors, allowing for an amazing array of possibilities that add character and personality to any home.

Fortress Roofing is proud of their relationships with some of the largest roofing manufacturers in the country, and can offer many options. Call us today for information on many colors and styles of roofing products!!!


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