A History of Roofing by Summit Home Remodeling


Roofing’s History since Ancient Times

Has your roofing type served other homes in history?

Roofing has come a long way in the past millennia. With the first true roof dating all the way back to over 5000 years ago, the technology has evolved for the sake of safety, efficiency, and durability. As you look up at your asphalt architectural roof, metal roof, or maybe another type, what other material could you imagine your roof possibly be made of?

Ancient Civilizations: The Earth’s Gift to Roofing

Roofing all began with clay - a common material used in ancient times!

Clay is among the first roofing materials known to man, rooting from Ancient China nearly 5000 years ago. Around the same time, Greece and Babylon developed their own clay roof tiles too. Clay roofing may not hold up to be the optimal roofing choice today, but this material has been around earlier than we can remember! These tiles would make their way around the world from then on into the AD.

The Dark and Middle Ages - Putting it Together

All sorts of materials could be used for roofing from 700-1300 AD. Layering of straw, water reed, sedge, palm branches, or more - as long as the materials could fuse into a single, powerful layer of home would it be called a thatched roof. Wood was also a popular roofing choice at this time. However, this ultimately came to be outlawed with time, in which the consensus of best roof shifted back to clay roofing. The reason? Clay roofing happened to be invulnerable to fire damage.

Emerging from clay roofing came slate roofing, created from a quarrying process first developed as early as 1300 AD. Slate roofing proved a stronger and more versatile alternative to clay, but it was much more expensive at the time and was only seen on higher end buildings such as castles. Nonetheless, slate roofing continued to live on to this day, albeit not as popular a choice since the introduction of asphalt roofing.


Straw, palm branches, and much more compiled the components of a thatched roof!


Metal roofing marks the beginning of the modern roofing era!

Entering the Modern Era of Roofing

Clay and slate roofing tiles truly withstood the test of time as they continued to see usage into the 20th century. Industrialization allowed for manufacturing to degrees unseen before where the roofing type would become the worldwide norm. Clay would eventually develop into concrete roofing which acted as both a color and effectiveness upgrade to clay.

Metal roofing also made its way into the world in the 19th century when revolutions of copper and iron began to form. As early as 1794, the first iron roof demonstrated its effectiveness in protecting a home. The introduction of zinc and copper into roofing brought forth the idea of halting unwanted moisturizer from entering your attic, a phenomenon that would prevail not only in metal roofing, but more.

Our Roofing Era

Green roofing would surge in Germany in the late 20th century. With asphalt becoming a material in the 19th century, this developed to become one of, if not the most optimal roofing choices today for the energy-minded homeowner. Easy to produce, reasonable cost, and strong potential in protection and energy savings, asphalt roofing stands as our personal pick from history for a roof to use.

Where can roofing go from here on out? Asphalt shingles as we see it are still evolving to this day: from 3-tab to architectural, and it’s the simple tweaks like layout of shingles which can truly change the nature of a material. With new materials such as glass and polymer roofing being introduced, we could possibly be seeing the next breakthrough in roofing technology.

So many roofing types, but do you know which one is best for you? You can learn more on our recommended roofing systems with a free estimate at 667-212-2759!


Multiple ways to save energy on your home in this era - one way being through asphalt roofing.