A Timeline of the Evolution of Roofing

When you’re researching new roofing materials, it’s interesting to look at the evolution of roofs over time, particularly how preferences have changed over the years. Below, we look at some of the older and newer roofing materials, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each one.


Did you know that slate has actually been used for over a 1000 years as a roofing material? It was first discovered in 100 BC but was then reintroduced in the 12th century for roofing purposes. There are multiple advantages to using slate for your roof; including the fact that it can last for between 80 and 100 years. While this roofing material is aesthetically pleasing, it can be quite expensive and needs additional support due to the heaviness of the material. That’s why other materials were introduced for roofing.


Clay was another dominant roofing material up until the 18th century and was a key material at the beginning of the evolution of roofs. The fact that this material is resistant to rotting and fire damage, paired with its longevity, make it an excellent choice when it comes to choosing your roofing material. However, similarly to slate, this is an incredibly heavy material which means that it may need additional roofing support. This can lead to further expensive roof replacement costs.


Concrete roofing is another popular choice when it comes to roofing. Not only is it extremely durable, enhancing its ability to withstand severe weather conditions, it also comes in a variety of colours. This allows you to create a unique look for your property, which is a definite advantage. However, this material also comes with its downfalls. For example, concrete is more expensive than some other choices and, while it is recommended for use on new building structures, pre-existing buildings may not be able to support it. This limits the utility of concrete as a roofing material.


Metal can be used for a variety of different building structures due to its ability to adapt to different needs. There are so many different metals to choose from; copper to aluminium, galvanised steel to tin – there’s a type for everyone. Like concrete, this is a slightly pricier option when it comes to choosing new roofing. Having said that, a larger initial investment isn’t always a bad thing as that usually means fewer maintenance payments in the long run!


Wooden roofing is one of the less common choices as a result of the fact it isn’t as durable as some of the other materials that we have seen in the evolution of roofing. Nonetheless, wood is preferred in some respects – it won’t rust and it is very easy to install. It is, however, important to remember that wooden roofing is likely to be affected by factors such as mould and insects.

Flat Roofing

One of the most controversial choices for roofing is the flat roof. Many people choose flat roofing for its affordability in both installation and maintenance. However, a key problem is the lack of drainage which can ultimately result in the roof becoming damaged. On the other hand, the easily accessible nature of the flat roof, compared to those which are sloped, is definitely an advantage as it makes it easier for repairs.

Exeter Roofing Ltd provide a range of services including tiling, maintenance, repairs and guttering. For more information, you can contact our team.

All roof work undertaken

Fully qualified for heritage tiling & repair

Fully qualified in traditional roofing works

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