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Brief History of Roofs & Roofing

What is the oldest roofing materialYour roof is one of the most important components of your house. It offers crucial protection against the elements, plays a major role in your home’s insulation, and is one of the first things people see when they look at your property.

And yet, you probably don’t give it much thought unless you need to have it fixed or replaced by a professional roof service in Ellicott City, MD. This is a shame, because roofing has a long and interesting history that most people are completely unaware of.

In this article, we’ll answer some common questions about where and when roofing was first invented, and how it got to where it is today. Read on.

Who invented roofs?

It’s safe to say that no single person invented roofs. Rather, humans have always needed a way to protect themselves from the elements, so roofs existed in one form or another for as long as we did.

That being said, roofs changed a lot over time:

  • 40,000 BC. People commonly used woolly mammoth skins and other animal hides to protect themselves from the elements. 
  • 25-30,000 BC. Tent-like structures were covered with reeds, which were in turn covered with mud to create a simple roof.
  • 8000 BC. The tent-like structures gave way to mud and clay houses that had conical roofs that consisted of mud and branches.
  • 6500 BC. Rectangular houses and roofs made of bricks or stones first appeared.
  • 3000-2000 BC. The first known “true” tiled roofs started appearing around this period in China, Babylon, and Greece.

What is the oldest roofing material?

Although animal skins, mud, and branches have all been used throughout prehistory to cover human dwellings, the first roofing material that resembled what we have today is the clay tile. Some of these tiles are thought to date back as far as 10,000 BC.

Other materials that were commonly used in the same period are thatch and stone. Thatched roofs were an especially effective roofing material in many civilizations due to their natural waterproofing properties. By tightly bundling the reed, builders were able to create roofs that didn’t leak (for the most part) and could keep most small animals out.

When was asphalt roofing invented?

Asphalt shingles were invented in 1901 by Henry Reynolds of Grand Rapids, Michigan. They quickly gained popularity due to their excellent durability, performance, and recyclability. By 1939, 11 million were being produced. Today, asphalt shingles are the most popular shingle type in the US that can be seen on more than 75% of American homes.

If you opt to install asphalt shingles on your property, keep in mind that asphalt can vary widely when it comes to its general quality and how much recycled material it contains. Low quality asphalt will not only be a lot less durable and more susceptible to damage from birds and other critters, it’ll also look worse than the higher grade stuff.

To ensure your new roof is built using the highest quality materials, always work with a reputable roofing company that has been certified by a well-known manufacturer such as Owens Corning.

Where can I find a trusted roof service in Ellicott City, MD & other parts of the Mid-Atlantic?

Who invented roofsNu Look Home Design is an acclaimed provider of roof, solar, window, gutter, door, and siding services that boasts a verifiably excellent track record and a long list of return customers from all corners of the Mid-Atlantic.

Whether you’re located in Ellicott City Historic District, or in one of the other communities across Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia, you can trust our team of supremely qualified technicians to meet your needs in the most effective manner possible. Contact us today.


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