rows of roman roof tiles on a house in the Mediterranean area

One of the highest priorities in life is “having a roof over our heads”, and it’s pretty clear to see why. Roofs are what keeps us safe and comfortable every day, protecting us from the weather and other disturbances. However, the roof wouldn’t be as efficient as it is now without a rich history to it. To go through the entire history of the roof would take pages to explain, so we’ll go through a shortened version to explain its importance in everyday life.

Natural Materials

Before roofing, humans presumably slept under the stars, which would also mean sleeping under the sun, rain, wind and storms. The first signs of roofing go way back to 40,000 BC. Siberians would use woolly mammoth skin over their huts. Stretched hide and other natural substances would be the common roofing materials for quite some time. This includes straw, branches, leaves, wood and mud. These elements were often used in conjunction to fill in gaps and prevent rainwater from entering.


Tiles didn’t enter civilisation until around 5000 years ago. The earliest signs of tiled roofs trace back to 3000 BC in China. Chinese civilisation would use tiles in elaborate designs that are still widely recognised today. Tiles and slates didn’t enter European civilisation until around 100 BC in Roman and Greek civilisations, which is where most technologies were first formed and understood.

Roofing didn’t come into full fruition until the 12th century in England. In order to prevent fires in overcrowded cities, King John introduced a new law that enforced civilians to replace their thatched roofs with clay roof tiles. This is believed to be the beginning of mass tile production.

However, even though the use of thatched roofs had been made illegal, it was still widely used due to its cheapness. This was one of the main factors of the Great Fire of London, one of the biggest fires in European history. This further enforced the use of clay tires.

Modern Roof Tiles

Today, natural roof materials aren’t usually seen in modern roofing. Modern roof tiles are made from clay and concrete, the latter first introduced in Bavaria in the 19th century. It was later introduced into European countries, where colours were tinted to the surface to imitate earlier materials. Since their beginnings and early production, clay and concrete are now the standard roof tiling materials, due to their longevity and resistance against weather conditions.

Looking for Durable Roof Tiles? Talk to Roof Top Industries!

Roof Top Industries are suppliers and installers of different variations of roof tiles. Contact us now to receive a free quote and measure, and our Perth team will have your new roof tiles installed in no time! Call 08 9309 3993 or leave us a message online.