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History of Roofing Commodities: Then and Now

History of Roofing Commodities: Then and Now
July 5, 2016 Greg Word

Have you ever taken a close look at your roof? What exactly are the materials that so faithfully provide your structure with protection from the elements? How have these materials developed over time? It is fascinating to see the evolution of basic roofing commodities. Below we examine is the history of roofing commodities and the way in which they have transformed through time.

Roofing being stapled in place

One Plus One Equals Four

Asphalt has always been an incredible resource in the roofing industry. For decades, it has been used to fashion a variety of stylish, functional, and efficient shingles to protect structures all across the country. However, during the notorious oil crisis of 1973-1974, the supply of asphalt was decreased significantly and supply was not meeting the demand. As the need for roofing continued, saturated felts were recognized by engineers for their value. When these felts were completely covered with an asphalt coating, the need for four piles was reduced to two. This discovery saved on the costs associated with both labor and material while still providing a high-quality output.


Glass Fiber Products Make their Debut

Steam-blown glass fibers were the earliest known type of glass fiber used in roofing. As with other roofing history commodities, it was discovered that alternative methods of treating the glass fibers proved to be more durable . Furthermore, they provide an extended amount of tensile strength. Continuous strands soon replaced many steam-blown materials on the marketplace, thus providing many additional benefits including:

  • Dimensional stability
  • Decreased ridging, wrinkling, and blistering
  • Good porosity


Polymer Systems Become Popular

Polymer systems were ballasted at first, but it was discovered that other treatments offered extended benefits. Polymers encompass a variety of materials including:

  • Tedlar film
  • Reinforced PVC
  • Hypalon
  • Butyl rubber
  • Neoprene rubber

The benefits of polymer systems used in roofing include:

  • Fire resistance
  • Low VOC
  • Durability
  • Recyclability

Despite the large selection of polymers from PVC, to EPDM, to TPO, none are alike and all have a unique list of benefits and uses. TPOs are by far the most popular and the newer heat resistant types are providing even more product differentiation than ever before.

Roofing material rolled up


As this look at the history of roofing come full circle, it is important to note that modified bitumen is a popular material in many roofs today. Local codes constantly undergo changes, therefore playing a role in determining the materials used in the roofing industry in the near future. Emerging roofing systems include:

  • Vegetated roofs
  • Cool roofs
  • Low VOC products
  • Carbon neutral materials

In analyzing the history of roofing commodities, it becomes clear that they have adapted over time to changing circumstances and requirements. Contact Restructure Roofing today at (214) 234-2596 for help with the installation and or maintenance of your roof.