The History of Commercial Roofing

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The roof that sits atop your commercial building works to shelter your interior and any occupants from the elements. This means that it has a huge role in the protection of your investment. Due to the massive importance of the job a roof does, roofing materials have had to evolve in order to increase longevity, strength, and overall performance. 

Let’s explore the history of commercial roofing in order to understand how modern roofing materials have changed the face of the industries by intelligently combining the very best of the past with the most innovative technologies of the future.

An Insight into Early Roofing Materials

Wood tiles, clay tiles, and slate essentially dominated the roofing industry right up until the mid-19th century. This is because it was around the time when bituminous and metal roofing systems began to enter the scene which made low-slope applications a true reality. 

When the 20th century came around, the roofing industry saved a massive hike in improvements. This meant that several new, different, and unique materials were developed for both steep-sloped and low-sloped roofs. At this time, asphalt shingles emerged as the very top roofing material for houses.

However, at this point in time, they weren’t a very common option for commercial buildings as commercial buildings were often flat during this time period. While asphalt shingles continue to grow in popularity due to how budget-friendly, fire-resistant, and aesthetically pleasing they are, the development of components such as gutters, flashing, and downspouts caused a boom in the industry.

The Appearance of Built-Up Roofing

Built-up roofing systems, also known as BUR systems, are made by alternating layers of asphalt-impregnated fabric along with bituminous coatings. Due to the redundancy of this, if only one layer were to break down, another can easily take its place which makes it far stronger than other products on the market.

The history of commercial roofing often lists Cyrus and Samuel Warren as pioneers in the industry who have revolutionized the BUR roofing process. This was done by using coal tar as a form of adhesive for the different layers. In 1868, Michael Ehret patented something known as the slag roofing system.

This system used slag as the top coating. Then, the development of built-up roofing changed the shape of commercial buildings. This is especially true when it comes to temperate regions where steep-sloped roofs weren’t actually necessary for rain protection.

The result of this was the introduction of flat roofs which are now very predominant when it comes to commercial buildings.

Our Commercial Roofing History

There is no denying that commercial roofing has certainly come a very long way. Here at Watertite Commercial Roofing, we are proud to say that we have kept pace with the vast changes in roofing materials and all of the latest technology trends. Commercial building owners need to know that they have many other choices than their predecessors.

However, the type of roofing material used is still influenced by the direct availability of materials, personal preference, and local climate. 

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