As long as mankind has needed housing, they have needed roofing. Shelters are not very good without roofing. Caves initially provided shelter but the damp dark environment was not the most comfortable, so alternative shelter was sought. As far back as 40,000 BC, mammoth skins were used as a roofing material, which marked the beginning of the history of roofing.
The History of Roofing
Natural materials like sod or animal hide served as the best options for roofing materials. Materials like these have been used for roofing longer than more common trends like tiles have been around. China was the first country to use glass tile roofing almost 5000 years ago and today much of the architecture used still employs that same style. While the more modern materials used today are more popular, the original glass tiles are still used for special buildings like palaces and temples. Around this same time in history, Greece was using flat ceramic tiles. Similar tiles or shingles were created by the Romans and brought to England in 100 BC and these tiles were commonly used in roofing for wealthier areas all across Europe.
Since straw huts were designed, thatched roofing has been a key part of architectural roofing design. Ancient nomadic tribes would use wood bundles for roofing after it became difficult to find animal hides. The concept of thatching became popular and was used through the coming ages on many buildings because of its effectiveness. Thatched roofing remained a low-cost option, even as roofing continued to develop. Over the last 200 years, more modern materials have been developed and are used more commonly for roofing projects. Materials will continue to be designed to be more economically friendly as energy conservation continues to be more popular. Roofing today is for more than just protection and designs now incorporate ways to save money and stay aesthetically pleasing.
Roofing started with stretched animal hides over poles and stones and since then, major advances have been made. Protection and shelter is the main purpose of all roofing and materials were found and developed according to what was available. As we move towards the future, more innovative and technologically-advanced materials will be discovered, taking roofing into the next century.