A Brief History of Tile Roofs

A Brief History of Tile Roofs
February 21, 2020 Tiled roofing, Uncategorized

A roof’s importance to your home cannot be overlooked. It shelters you from the forces of nature, protects your utility systems, and helps enhance the aesthetic of the exterior. That is why manufacturers are continuously developing roofing materials and looking for improvements.

Tile is the most commonly used roofing material for homes all over the world. It is one of the most distinguished and enhanced roofing materials due to its great variety of colours, shapes, textures, patterns and profiles. Not all people know it, but tile has a rich and interesting history behind it, mainly due to the varied materials used to manufacture it.

Clay Tiles

The origin of roof tiles can be traced back to Roman times. They gained even more popularity when King John of England signed a roofing declaration law in London, which required citizens to change their roofs covered with reeds and thatch. Clay tiles were used as a preventive measure against spreading of fires. This move encouraged the mass production of roofing tiles.

Dreadnought clay roof tiles

The Romans used dreadnought clay tiles in England to make their roofs waterproof, although they had little insulation. It had various shapes, some were almost oval, while others where squares, rectangles, or hexagons with rounded or pointed lower ends. The tiles have a cleverly designed slope, which ensures that debris and rainwater are drained properly.

Terracotta tiles

Terracotta tiling was first seen in Olympia, at the ruins of the Temple of Hera, built around 640 BC. It has three distinct types: Asiatic, Belgic, and Germanic. This type of tile was known for its durability and flexibility. They can be sealed to improve stain and moisture resistance.

Slate tiles

Slate tiles were first used in the 1800s. Sedimentary particles were cemented together using carbonates of lime and magnesia. These were then converted to slate with intense heat and lateral heat. This structure provided higher elasticity and strength. A block of slate can easily split into several laminae. A thinner laminae improves the quality and durability of the tile. This type of tile was common on mass housing.

Concrete tiles

Clay tiles dwindled in popularity during the 1950s because of the inability of manufacturers to keep up with the demand brought about by the booming housing industry. Concrete tiles began to get the upper hand, mainly when a big housing program emerged in the UK after World War II. These tiles were favoured mainly because they could be produced in larger sizes and more regular shapes. That made them easier to fit together and fix to the roof.

S-shaped tile roofs

The Dutch were the next international powerhouse to introduce innovations to making tiles. They developed an S-shape tile in which each piece overlaps the other. It was considered an advantageous option because it prevents water from easily leaking through the tiles. The use of tiles eventually spread throughout Northern Europe.

Tiles with raised weather bars

Several innovations in tiling were made during the early-mid 1900s. Manufacturers created tiles with a raised weather bar. These tiles were designed in such a way that they interlocked with each other, one tile fastened to the next. With this approach, tiles that were twisted because of firing and drying faults can still be interlocked. It enabled architects to build lower pitched roofs and improve performance.

Evolution of manufacturing roof tiles

Roof tiles not only evolved in terms of the materials used or manner of construction. The technology used to produce them has also come a long way. It was during the 1970s that the industry witnessed the birth of new technology.

Automated handling and computerised kiln firing were developed. The machine pressing technology from Germany also paved the way for more efficient production of roof tiles. The shapes of the tiles became more uniform, and the sizes can already be controlled, whether smaller or bigger. Production costs also became cheaper. Maintaining a safe supply of tiles was no longer an issue since the tiles are no longer dried in open sheds, which makes them susceptible to winter frost.

Tile roofs are proven to stand the test of time 

Tile roofs have one of the longest life expectancies out of all the roofing materials. They can last about 100 years or even more. However, this does not mean that regular maintenance is no longer needed.

A thorough external and inspection of the roof covering and structure needs to be done to determine condition, leaks, or any cause of failure. Doing so will help the owner create a program for preserving and repairing their roof. To know more about tiled roof restoration and repair, contact us at Amazing Roof Restorations.

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