The History Of Roofing: From Ancient To Modern Times

Roofing history is long and exciting. Roofing has always been one of the basic human needs. Roofing has been a guarantee to life and security for centuries. From the very primitive times, a human being moving from place to place first had to build a shelter to survive. 

With evolution, the materials of roofing have also changed over time. Today we value not only the durability of roofing but also the aesthetic side and efficiency. 

The Brief History Of Roofing

The history of roofing goes back to 40,000 BC. In 735 AD, first thatch roofs became popular. They were made of palm trees to leaves, to other forest debris. But, they were not so durable and could not stand rain and wind. In the 11th century, wood shingles appeared in England. Later they spread throughout Europe and Asia.

Grey Roofing Material
Grey Roofing Material

Yet, wood roofings were extremely popular till the 18th century, many fire incidents occurred because of wood shingles. So, it was already a matter of protection and security. Thus, asphalt shingles came to replace the wood roofings preventing fires.

Roof Materials At The Dawn Of Civilization

Moving out of caves made humanity develop the skill of building shelters. Archeologists have found many pieces of evidence of shelters made of wood, rocks, and animal parts, confirming the existence of roofing from the early times. Palmwood was as well popular in more tropical areas. 

Construction was popular in ancient China. Clay tiles have been used there since BC 3000. In Europe, slate or wooden tiles that could be found nearby were used. Thatch roofing was popular in Britain and equatorial countries. They were more secure and also fire resistant. 

At the beginning of the 19th century, roofing was made of tiles from clay, wood, and slate. So, natural materials from the environment were still used for roofing. 

Metal roofing was popular throughout history. It was very resistant but, unfortunately, extremely lavish. For this reason, you can see metal roofings in museums, temples, and other important buildings today. 

Roofing In The 20th Century

The 20th century characterizes a platform for growth and advances. Scientific and technological breakthroughs, especially in chemistry, were game-changing. Scientists were trying to make the world and everything around more efficient. Soon, the first composite roofing shingles were created. 

In 1903, the history of roofing changed with the invention of asphalt shingles in the United States. The asphalt shingles were made of bitumen, laced with shards of quartz, brick, slate, clay, and other similar materials. They were temperature resistant and could keep heat in and out. Over years little changes have been added to the shape, size, and composition of asphalt shingles. 

Dark Grey Roofing Shingles
Dark Grey Roofing Shingles

Roofing In The 21st Century

In the 21st century, environmental sustainability and ecological problems are growing day by day. Humanity tries hard to stay in a healthy and productive relationship with mother nature. Taking into account the fact that human activities harm nature, scientists play a significant role in decreasing the effects on the environment and protecting the planet.     

Today, many cost-effective ways exist to reduce air pollution in the United States. Green technologies and eco-friendly construction materials are among them. People also build gardens inside their homes and buildings and keep a lot of plants and flowers there. 

Moreover, solar panel shingles are widely used in modern buildings. Remember that you can install solar roofing both in areas with plenty of sunlight and in locations that receive less sunlight. Besides, the price for solar panels system is regularly dropping. In the near future, highly efficient solar panel roofing will become essential everywhere. 

The Evolution Of Roofing And Architecture In The United States

Today, walking down the streets, you will find various roofing: asphalt shingles, clay and concrete tiles, slate and rubber slate, and more advanced roofing materials like metal roofing and solar tiles. No other part of the building is as vital as roofing. 

Until the beginning of the 19th century, wood, slate, clay, and metals dominated in the roofing industry of the United States. Certainly, there have been replacements and repairs. Nevertheless, many of these roofs are still standing. And these buildings can last over 100 years.  

Later more affordable asphalt shingles appeared in the US market. They are still the most popular roofing materials in the world. Plus, more ecological materials become favorable. Another trend of vintage roofs, like green roofs, is also welcomed.  

Still and all, the most valuable aspect of choosing a roofing material in the United States today is its benefits and impact on the environment.

Popular Roofing Materials

In modern times, roofings have become more reliable and secure. Roofings now have elements of the past and, at the same time, including innovations and trends. Homeowners today give preference to design. They often choose long-lasting, good-looking, environmentally friendly materials that have reasonable prices.

Houses with colorful roofs
Houses with colorful roofs

The most popular roofing materials are solar tiles, asphalt shingles, metal roofing, slate and rubber slate, clay and concrete tiles, green roofs covered with plants, and built-up roofing made of asphalt and tar and used for flat roofs.


Researching the roofing market, you will find hundreds of attractive styles, materials, and colors, from affordable asphalt tiles to beautiful, durable, adaptable, and even energy-efficient roofing.   

When choosing new roofing or roofing repair for your home or office, deal with a specialized roofing company that will ensure you make the right choice. Professional roofing contractors will investigate all the features of your home or office building. 

Author of a publication: Irene Abgaryan 

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