In the spirit of the 4th of July holiday, this post explores America’s history of roofing, and how the materials we use today came into popularity and style in our country.
1. What Kind of Roofing Materials Did the First Europeans in America Use?
The first Europeans in America used predominately wood shingles, or ‘shake’ as we know it today. These shake roofs were easy to make for the first settlers and could be easily replaced if the wood rotted. The downside to these wooden shingles was the high risk of fire, and with homes being made of mostly wood, the early settlers had to come up with new ways to build homes. In the north east, you can still see many homes that date back to the 1700s that have shingle roofs. These shingles have been updated and changed for modern use, but the idea still stands.
2. Tile Was Here, Too!
Clay roofing was already being used by the Native Americans in the southwest, but with the increasing population of Spanish settlers in the late 1600s and early 1700s, tile roofing expanded more broadly. New styles began to pop up on churches and other buildings, like the barrel tile, and flat tile. These styles had been used in Europe for years, but with the ever-abundant clay found in the southwest, these styles become prominent in America as well. Countless Spanish and Native American buildings used tile for roofing, and many of these buildings still stand
3. Wait, What About Metal?
Metal roofing came into popularity in the 1800s, mostly with Floridian settlers, or ‘crackers’ as they are referred to. These Floridians used metal for its durability and its fire-resistant properties, which kept their homes safe and dry in the stormy seasons. Many homes in the late 1800s used metal as new techniques from the UK and France made it easily accessible and stronger than the basic aluminum many homes had. Galvanized metal roofs came over to America in the 1910s and 20s, and with the peak of the Industrial Revolution, many roofing companies adopted the metal roof as their signature material.
As you can see, roofing has been an integral part of American history, and still stands today as one of the largest construction industries in the United States.
References: https:// www.nps.gov/tps/how-to-preserve/briefs/4-roofing.htm
2 thoughts on “A Brief History of Roofing in America”
Whoa! This article certainly made us realize just how fireproof and sturdy metal roofs are. I should keep this interesting finding in mind when requesting further installations in the near future. A portion of my house roof got slightly damaged after a hailstone rain hit my neighborhood last weekend.
As a roofer in Texas, I don’t do many tiled roofs, but I absolutely love the southwest look of a tiled roof. Thanks for the quick history lesson!
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