A roof is the top covering of a building, including all materials and constructions necessary to support it on the walls of the building or on uprights; it provides protection against rain, snow, sunlight, extremes of temperature, and wind. A roof is part of the building envelope.
To find or build shelter was one of the first skills of humanity, and the most important component of any shelter is the roof; the part that protects the inhabitants from the elements. As humans advanced and their shelter became as much an art form as a necessity, both houses and their roofs began to change as well.
The evolution of roofing design can be traced far back as 3000 B.C., when the Chinese used clay roof tiles. Roman and Greek civilizations utilized slate and tile in the first century. By the eighth century, thatched roofs became the common form of most areas of Western Europe, and wooden shingles in the eleventh.
True advancements in the evolution of roofing came in the twelfth century during the reign of King John, when, to help prevent fires in increasingly overcrowded cities, laws were passed that commanded citizens to replace thatched roofs with clay. 600 years later, the first mass-created clay tiles began production and a century following that, concrete tile roofing first came into use.
American roofing evolved much like that of Europe. In the earliest decades of settlement, use of whatever materials were available and whatever the weather dictated decided initial roof designs. While new technologies have made it possible for almost any roofing style to be utilized anywhere in the country, New Englanders tend to cherish their traditions, and still remain loyal to the classics.
Roofing today has advanced tremendously. Like everything, the roofing industry has been greatly impacted by technological and economical advancements. Within the last century, for example, engineers have pushed projects to the brink of gravitational defiance by constructing skyscrapers to provide efficient use of living and working space. Similarly, roofing techniques have come to reap many of the same benefits by increasing efficiency. With thousands of years to look back on and learn from, roofing materials are now available in countless elements and combinations.
Whether it’s slate, asphalt, concrete, or a combination of all of them, today’s roofing materials are available in all kinds of affordable options. Thanks to a long history of skill, hard work, and craftsmanship, you’ll almost certainly be able to find a roofing solution to any and all of your building and construction needs.
FUN FACT: Some of the oldest roofing materials in the world are thatch, clay, and stone. Thatch was likely used between 5000 and 1800 B.C. Clay tiles can be traced all the way back to around 10,000 BC!