15 April 2022

A short history of rooftops

By ruiiid5

Bet you have never thought about the history of the humble roof? Well, the roof was not always as efficient and insulated as it is now. Roofing actually has an interesting history that has brought us to the point we’re at today with large varieties of materials and styles to choose from. Let’s explore a brief history of human roofing.

As houses have changed throughout the decades, so have their roofs. If you have recently bought a house through a conveyancing Guildford company such as Sam Conveyancing you will probably have an interest in what roof you have

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It seems that ancient man was more adept at protecting himself from the elements than we give him credit for. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that roofs were made of what was available locally, including wood, stone, clay and even animal bones. In hot countries, roofs were generally constructed from palm leaves, which is still the method seen today in some tropical regions. Early homes often used wattle and daub methods consisting of mud combined with other materials woven together.

Developments in China were quite impressive compared with the roof style here in the UK. They used clay tiles as far back as 3000 BC! Methods and applications using clay spread in Europe thanks to travel from Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. In Northern Europe, wood was still the material of choice, along with slate tiles as seen in France.

The thatched roof was adopted in Britain in the early 700s AD. We still have a lot of good examples of this type of roof across the country today. This roof style was also popular in hot countries such as Fiji and Hawaii. The same method was also applied in areas of Africa where thatch was made from sugar cane leaves. Interestingly, the early American pioneers also used leaf roofing with a layer of earth to protect their basic prairie houses.

Clay tile was the method of choice in southern Europe and the clay was baked which is what gave them a different Mediterranean terra-cotta appearance. At the beginning of the 20th century, concrete becomes a much cheaper option so that the tiles were painted red to match the traditional terra-cotta tiles.

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Tile roof deployment was an effective method because of its durability and resistance to adverse weather conditions. The next development was asphalt shingles which began in 1920s America. Asphalt base material made of cellulose or fibreglass and could be mixed with other substances in order to change its properties. It can also be included in the different layers to change the level of durability, making it waterproof and resistant to heat and extreme cold.

The great thing about the roof today is that it benefits from such a long history of trial and error so that we now have materials that work the best for the job at hand. There are many options for homeowners in colour and material, hundreds of different shades and selection of concrete or ceramic. Tiles are also made to offer the ultimate in durability. The most common options will still largely depend on locally available materials and the climate in this region.