What You Need to Know About the History of Tile Roofs

Tile is the most popular type of roofing material around the globe. It has a history dating back to the Neolithic Age – roughly 10,000 B.C. – when clay tile was first used for roofing in China and then a short time later, in the Middle East. From these two regions, the use of tile roofing gradually spread throughout Europe, Asia and around the world. In areas of Europe, Asia, South America and Australia, tile roofs often have a lifespan of 100+ years when they’re installed correctly.

Tile Roofing Reaches North America

European immigrants brought their preference for clay tile roofing with them to the United States. In the Northeast, the Dutch used clay tile roofing in the mid-1650s, and it was used by Spanish missionaries in California in the early 1700s. Clay roofing tile shards have also been found in the historic settlements of St. Augustine and Jamestown. Tile roofs fell out of favor for a while, but they saw a revival in the early part of the 20th century. Today, tile is a popular roofing material choice once again, especially in California and Florida.

Tile Roofing Longevity in America Today – East Vs. West

A hundred years is an exceptional life expectancy for a roofing material, so why doesn’t tile roofing in Naples and other areas of Florida last that long? Largely, it’s due to two contrasting schools of thought regarding installation:

  1. West coast or System 1. Also known as “top flashed” tile roofing, this is the installation method that’s most widely used today, and it also ensures a long-lasting roof. With this method, a combination of specialty top flashings, superior craftsmanship during installation and a commitment to ongoing maintenance help to ensure that rain rolls off a tile roof so it stays watertight.
  2. East Coast or System 3. With this installation method, tile is treated as a decoration-only roofing material. This method is often used in Florida in an attempt to cheapen tile roof installation for the mass new construction market. The tile is installed with an underlayment, and attention isn’t paid to correct tile overlaps, installing specialty top flashings or keeping up with essential roof maintenance. Instead, the underlayment is all that’s relied on to prevent rain water from entering a home, and the tile itself is simply decorative.

For long-lasting, “top flashed” tile roofing installation in Naples and the surrounding areas, contact us at Kelly Roofing.

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