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The History Of Asphalt Shingles

by | Jul 23, 2021 | Asphalt Shingles, Blog

When homeowners opt for an asphalt shingle roof, they have several options available to them. 3-Tab, Architectural, and Luxury shingles are the main categories of this type of material, with each category coming in various colors and styles. Whether you’re on a tight budget or willing to splurge on something beautiful for your home’s exterior design – there is something perfect out there for you.

This is the freedom that comes with installing an asphalt shingle roof. But things weren’t always so freely available. Asphalt shingles have come a long way from their pine tar and cotton rag origins.

 

Early Days

Throughout history, various materials were used to create weather-resistant and highly aesthetic roofing systems. Metal sheeting roofs were a common sighting in Europe, as well as beautiful terracotta roof tiles for homes along the Mediterranean. For homes situated in the cold countryside, thatch roofs were an affordable way to keep the weather elements outside and the home’s interior warm.

However, in the US in the 1800s, we saw the development of what would be the predecessor of the asphalt shingle. Roofers would coat sturdy fabric in substances like pine tar. Developments and improvements made by the Warren Brothers saw the fabric being replaced by hard paper and sand being added to the pine tar mixture.

In the mid-1800s, the Waren Brothers recognized that pine tar was quickly becoming a scarce commodity, and thus, their prices went through the roof. The gaslight industry was taking off and created a coal tar by-product in large quantities. This coal tar would serve as a replacement for pine tar.

By the end of the 1800s, the petroleum industry was taking off. Oil refining took place on a major scale, creating asphalt as a by-product. The roofing industry recognized the strength and durability of asphalt and slowly began adopting it in its roofing projects.

 

Asphalt Shingle Development

The asphalt shingle’s development is believed to be the work of Henry Reynolds of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1903. However, the use and development of asphalt as a roofing material quickly became more common around the time; several sources mention that it’s difficult to attribute the development ownership of the asphalt shingle to one particular person.

In the early 20th century, materials such as the cotton rag or hardened paper were saturated in asphalt and coated in slate granules. It is believed that the first asphalt shingles were cut by hand and measured 8” x 16”. The popularity of the ‘new’ asphalt shingle increased, and to keep up with the new demand, the shingles were being machine-cut to perfection. The introduction of strip shingles made installing the shingle that much easier.

Over time, the asphalt shingle underwent incredible development as US residents and contractors recognized the material as a leading low-cost yet highly durable roofing material. The cotton rags and hardened paper were exchanged for celluloid-based felts. Engineers experimented with and introduced fiberglass to the roofing material. Eventually, various colors, shapes, and sizes were later added to the asphalt shingle roofing range.

Today, the asphalt shingle dominates the roofing industry market as innovative developments continue to improve upon the excellent roofing material.

Roofers guarantee their excellence, and homeowners rely on their protection. At Roof X Solutions, we install only the most premium asphalt roofing systems so that you can reap the benefits of this homegrown material. Give Roof X Solutions a call today to get started on your new asphalt shingle roof.

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