The History Of Asphalt Shingle Roofing

Mar 25, 2021 | Asphalt Shingle Roofing, Blog | 0 comments

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 asphalt shingle roofing, and each of these options come with their own unique characteristics. Whether your budget is a little tight or you’re one to splurge on a beautiful roof, there’s something for everyone. But the fun doesn’t stop there; homeowners are free to style and colour their asphalt shingle roofing system just about any color they desire.

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 its pine tar and cotton rag origins.


Early Days

Throughout history, all types of materials were used to create durable and aesthetic roofing systems. Metal sheeting was a common sighting in Europe, as well as beautiful terracotta roof tiles. For homes situated in the cold countryside, hay and straw were an affordable way to keep the rain out 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.

Towards the mid-1800s, the Waren Brothers recognized that pine tar was becoming scarce, and as a result, their prices skyrocketed. The gaslight industry was booming and created a coal tar by-product in boatloads. This coal tar would thus 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 recognised the strength and durability of asphalt and slowly began adopting it in its roofing projects.


Asphalt Shingle Development

The development of the asphalt shingle is said to be the work of Henry Reynolds of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1903. However, because the use and development of asphalt as a roofing material was steadily increasing around the time, many sources mention that it’s difficult to place all the development ownership of the asphalt shingle on one person.

In the early 20th century, materials such as the cotton rag or hardened paper were being 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.

As time went on, the asphalt shingle underwent rapid development as people around the US recognized asphalt shingles as a leading affordable yet highly durable roofing material. The cotton rags and hardened paper were traded in for celluloid-based felts. Developers experimented with and introduced fiberglass to the roofing material. Eventually, different colors, shapes, and sizes were added to the asphalt shingle range.

Today, asphalt shingles dominate the roofing industry market as developments continue to improve upon the excellent roofing material.

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

Recent Articles