The History of Roofs and Roofers - My Florida Roofing Contractor

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The History of Roofs and Roofers

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February 19, 2020
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The History of Roofs and Roofers

Anthropologists have found evidence of human habitation in caves dating back approximately 100,000 years. This means that the first human roofs consisted of ground or rock and were not constructed but simply used as an efficient buffer against the elements. Early huts and shelters, constructed by nomadic hunters and gatherers, were designed to be temporary structures whose roofs consisted of available resources such as sticks, branches and sometimes mud. Indigenous peoples also created amazingly strong shelters using animal skins, such as the yurt in Mongolia and the teepee in North America.

The History of Roofs and Roofers

The History of Roofs and Roofers

The teepee, actually little more than a steeply pitched roof, is an amazing engineering feat. This was impressed upon me in 2003 after I constructed a 20-foot-high teepee in a wilderness area. Not long after I finished, Hurricane Juan ripped through my home province of Nova Scotia in Canada and knocked down an estimated 100 million trees in a matter of hours. The area where I built the teepee was completely devastated, but the one thing left standing was my teepee. It was essentially undamaged.

The first known elaborate roof structures designed for permanency were utilized in China around 5,000 years ago. A thousand years later, Greece and Babylon used flat earthenware roof tiles. The Romans created variations of these tiles and evidence exists of them exporting these roofing materials to England about 100 B.C. A few hundred years later thatched roofs became popular.

For a long historical period, slate, wood or clay tiles were predominantly used. Henry M. Reynolds of Grand Rapids, Michigan revolutionized roofing with the creation of his asphalt shingles in 1903. That was a watershed moment in the world of roofing, as now roofers had a low-cost material that was installed easily and performed incredibly well. Today we also have the choice of numerous other shingles: fiberglass, solar, slate, and tile. Metal roofs are becoming ever more popular among the environmentally conscious as they can be installed over current shingles, therefore reducing waste in landfills. Another Eco-friendly substitute to an entirely new roof is seal coating and targeted professional repairs. Read on for more of The History of Roofs and Roofers


But what is the future of roofs? One novel concept concerns the “living roof.” In Canada, there is a “living roof” on top of Vancouver’s convention center. That building has a roof which is a whopping six acres. It is a perfect habitat for bees as the roof has close to half a million indigenous plants and grasses living on it. This is something of a technological full circle, as our ancestors often shared a much closer connection to the natural habitat in which they lived and would have found nothing novel at all about a “living roof.”

The next wave in roofing, however, may revolve around solar panels. In my home country of Canada, a country oftentimes lacking in heat and sunshine, solar panels are not at present an optimal fit, but technological advancements may change that. A place like Florida is much better positioned to currently capitalize on the energy of the sun. Imagine your roof not only keeping out the rain, wind, heat and cold but also powering all of your home’s electrical needs, while simultaneously charging the electric car in your driveway. Those days are coming as the technology advances and costs decline. It may be just a matter of time now. As we continue in the industry with The History of Roofs and Roofers





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