People have been making roofs since the dawn of time. While we assume that prehistoric people slept in caves, eventually, they had to roam out. From there, roofing was born. People needed shelter and protection from the elements. With rain, sleet, and snow all being very real dangers, you can bet the roofing concept quickly came about. And as we know, it eventually became industrialized in more modern times. So what’s the evolution of different roofing materials? How did we go from straw roofs to photovoltaic solar shingles? Read on for more below.
The Dawn of Civilization
While some would assume that early people slept beneath the stars or protected themselves in caves, the truth is far more mundane. Scientists have found that people made early roofs from wood, rocks, clay, and animal parts. In the tropics, palm fronds were most common as roofing materials. And in the Central plains of North America, people often made their homes out of animal skins, particularly the deer and buffalo they hunted.
Tiles and Thatched Roofs
China has many advanced architectural techniques, boasting clay tiles as early as 3,000 BCE. Thatch was commonplace in Great Britain and appeared in countries close to the equator, such as Bali, Fiji, and Hawaii. In Kenya, people made thatch from sugar cane leaves. This widespread appearance makes sense. It’s both more fire-resistant than wood and cheaper than tiles. This is an important part of the evolutionary timeline of different roofing materials.
Asphalt shingles originated in America, making their debut in the 1920s. Asphalt combines cellulose or fiberglass with oyster shells, slate, and resins. Also, you can use a different coating to improve its durability and cold and heat resistance. Consequently, it’s the most versatile material on this list of different types of roofing materials, especially for homes. Even today, you can find asphalt shingles are a mainstay for American homes.
Metal roofs have been in use throughout history since people can bend and shape them to fit whatever they need. They were very expensive and used in very few cases until recently. As such, they were only for the wealthy or important buildings like museums and temples. Copper is a great choice and one that came into use as early as the 1400s.
Today, there are many roofing innovations, including using mushrooms in roofing materials and even solar shingles. Overall, roofing has a fascinating history that can help inform our future. Who knows where we’ll be as we build on what we’ve mastered?