The history of roofing dates back to the the beginning of construction history. For as long as humans built shelters, they sought to build a covering that not only kept out the elements but protected the structure. The material for roofing included that found in the world around them, from mud to reeds, to straw and wood and even stone. Roof shingles were developed from these ancient roof coverings and each posses benefits.
The use of slate for roof shingles dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines slate as " a dense fine-grained metamorphic rock produced by the compression of various sediments...so as to develop a characteristic cleavage." Roof slates are valued because they are durable and come in a variety of shades as well. The fact that they are fireproof makes them valued too. While they do require proper framing as well as fasteners, these shingles can last for over a hundred years. They also require little maintenance.
Clay shingles or tiles
Clay tiles or roofing shingles are some of the oldest form of roof shingles, and were used in Bablyon as well as ancient Greece and Rome. In 1212, King John "issued building by-laws for London to eliminate combustible roof coverings" requiring thatched roofs be replaced with clay tiles. These shingles work well in warmer climes, as they tend to stay cool and do not absorb the heat. They are fireproof and last a long time. They are durable as well, and come in many colours.
Wood shingles have a long history of use in the Europe and the rest of the world. These shingles were and are made of treated pine, cedar or cypress. These can be cut in a variety of shapes to create various patterns. The heart of the wood is preferred, as it is the most durable part of a tree. These shingles last up to 50 years or more, and weather to a lovely greyish shade. While they may require some maintenance, they are very easy for the homeowner or professional to repair.
Metal and asphalt shingles
Metal shingles date back to 970 BC. One of the first metal roofs was the one installed on the temple in Jerusalem. Metal roofs are durable, can resist earthquakes and high wind, last 50 years or more and can be of low maintenance. They are made from steel, copper, aluminum and tin. Asphalt shingles are some of the most common roof shingles. It is also one of the newest form of roof shingles as well. Invented in the late 19th century, it can be made to look like other materials. They are less expensive that other roofing materials and is fire resistant.