A Brief History of the Asphalt Shingle

They are over the heads of roughly 80 percent of U.S. homeowners: asphalt shingles. For many people this ubiquitous roof covering goes almost unseen or unthought-about. Here’s a very brief history of the roof choice for most of us, the humble asphalt shingle.

Why Are Asphalt Shingles So Popular?

They cover the vast majority of home roofs. What makes them so popular? Asphalt shingles, compared to other roofing choices, are comparatively inexpensive. Roofing companies find them easy to install. Their relatively light weight make them easy on the roof structure. And asphalt shingles require next to no maintenance.

On a Roll

Asphalt shingles as we know them got their start in the late 1800s. At that time, manufacturers produced roll-roofing: felt covered and soaked in asphalt and then layered with small crushed stone. These roll worked fine for several years, with makers fine tuning the felt composition and the rough surface material.

Cut It Out

The roll-roofing worked well, but in 1903 Henry M. Reynolds devised the cut shingle. Rather than using a whole roll, manufacturers would cut individual shingles. By the 1950s, with relatively little change, shingles had taken on the form that is still in use today and had become the industry standard for roof coverings.

Not Much Changes

The only significant change to the asphalt shingle since the early 20th Century has been in the felt. Originally the felt would be organic material. Eventually the cost of the organic material added to the search for a more fire-resistant material shifted the process. Manufacturers were also looking for lighter materials. After some experimentation, makers eventually landed on fiberglass felt. This lighter, fire-resistant material has been the felt component for most asphalt shingles since the 1970s.

Still a Great Option

For homeowners in the Orlando area, the timeless asphalt shingle will probably be the roofing choice for a long time to come. When you want or need to replace your roof, contact us at Vanguard. We can help you choose the roof covering that is right for you and your home.

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