The History Of Asphalt Shingles

Aug 26, 2021Asphalt Shingle Roofing, Blog

Opting for an asphalt shingle roofing system means that there is quite a large variety of roofing options to choose from. 3-Tab, Architectural, and Luxury shingles are the main types of shingle roofing options, with each of these accompanied by their unique characteristics and benefits. If your budget is rather limited or you’re one to splurge on a beautiful rooftop, there’s an asphalt rooftop out there for you. Homeowners are free to style and color their asphalt shingle roofing system just about any color under the sun.

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, a wide variety of materials have been used to create durable and aesthetic rooftops. Metal sheeting was a common roofing material in Europe, as well as the rich hues of terracotta roof tiles. Homes situated in colder environments used hay and straw as an affordable way to keep the rain out and homes 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.

Around the mid-1800s, the Waren Brothers recognized that pine tar was quickly becoming a scarce commodity, and thus the material’s prices skyrocketed. The gaslight industry was booming and created the coal tar by-product by the ton. This coal tar would then replace the 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 often credited as the work of Henry Reynolds of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1903. However, since the use and development of the material as a roofing option steadily increased around this time, many sources note that it’s difficult to place all the credit on just one person.

In the early 20th century, cotton rags or hardened paper materials 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 rapid development as Americans recognized the material as a highly affordable yet remarkably durable roofing material. The cotton rags and hardened paper previously used were traded in for celluloid-based felts. Developers later experimented with and introduced fiberglass to the roofing material. Eventually, different colors, shapes, and sizes were added to the asphalt shingle range to appeal to an even wider audience.

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 Infiniti Roofing & Remodeling, we install only the most premium asphalt roofing systems so that you can reap the benefits of this homegrown material. Give Infiniti Roofing & Remodeling a call today to get started on your new asphalt shingle roof.

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