#TBT History of Roofing


The History of Roofing

The roof over your head, as simple as it may seem, is a product of building evolution. Roofs have allowed us to live more comfortably in extreme climates, they provide us with shelter from the weather, and they can add an element of beauty to your home. In fact, many roofs have become a part of an architectural masterpiece such as Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Russia, the Taj Majal, in India or the Sydney Opera House in Australia.


Skin, Sod, Thatch

The first roofing material known to man was a large wooly mammoth skin dating back to Siberia around 40,000 BC. Needless to say, roofing materials have come a long way since 40,000 BC, however, a roof can only be as good as the materials that are available. In fact, a lot can be learned about a civilization by studying its building materials. Shelters were once made from materials only found within the surroundings, hence, the advent of the sod roof. To apply a sod roof, patches of earth and grass were laid on top of the home. The thatching process, popular around 735 AD, was a slightly more advanced technique. Grass and reeds were woven together to form a more solid covering. Unfortunately, thatch coverings were not especially weather proof and could become an extreme fire hazard.


Clay Tiles

Clay tiles were first used in China around 10,000 BC. Clay tiles were a material thought to be fireproof and weather resistant. It took a great deal of time, but the use of clay tiles eventually spread to Egypt, Greece and Rome. They became the main source of roofing material by 1212 AD, when King John of England issued a building law that would eliminate flammable roofing, namely thatch roofing. It was during this time in history that the mass production of roofing materials is believed to have started.

claytile clay-roof-tile


Evidence of roofing slates have been found among the ruins of mid-17th century Jamestown. Slate was popular for its durability, fireproof qualities, and its aesthetic beauty. Slate was available in many colors such as red, green, purple, and blue-gray, so it was a great material for the decorative patterns on many 19th century roofs. However, the cost of slate was very high and the time required to obtain the slate was very lengthy as it was imported from Wales. Slate was used well into the 20th century, especially on many Tudor revival style buildings of the 1920s.

slateroof3 tudorslateroof multicolor_slate_roof

Composite Roofing, Roll Roofing, Asphalt Shingles

The first composite roofing material was a material that consisted of a woven fabric covered in tar and sand, which was seen in London in the 1840s. This eventually led to the invention of roll roofing, which was a felt dipped in tar and covered with fine gravel. Roll roofing was the first true composition roofing, created by the S.M and C.M Warren Company, and later lead to the development of asphalt shingles. The first asphalt shingle was developed by Henry M. Reynolds, but it was F.C Overby who, in 1914, added a crushed slate to the shingles to give them the weight needed to withstand the elements.  The most popular roofing material today is the standard three-tab asphalt shingle. It’s one of the least-expensive roofing options and is available in a wide selection of colors.

Composite-Asphalt-Shingles RollRoofing

Metal Roofing

Another roofing material that developed alongside the asphalt shingle was metal. Lead and copper were used to cover roof surfaces where wood, tile, or slate shingles would be more difficult because of the roof’s pitch or shape. Lead was mostly used for protective flashing. Flat-seamed copper was used on many domes and cupolas. Copper sheets were imported from England until the end of the 18th century when facilities for rolling sheet metal were developed in America. Zinc came into use in the 1820s. Although a less expensive substitute for lead, zinc’s advantages were controversial, and it was never widely used in the United States. Tin shingles were commonly embossed to imitate wood or tile and were popular as an inexpensive, textured roofing material. Tin roofing was widely used in Canada in the 18th century, but it was not as common in the United States until later. Sheet iron was first manufactured by Robert Morris, who had a rolling mill near Trenton, New Jersey. Morris even used metal on the roof of his own home in Philadelphia in 1794. By the 1850s the material was used on post offices, train depots and factories. In 1857 a metal roof was installed on the U.S. Mint in New Orleans. The Mint was said to be fireproofed with a 20-gauge galvanized, corrugated iron roof on iron trusses. With the growing concerns about environmental waste, metal roofing has become even more efficient, and the best part is that it can be recycled, reused or re-purposed.



Wood Shingles

Wood shingles have been popular in all periods of building history. The size, shape and amount of detail in the shingle differed according to the geographical area. Inhabitants and builders within particular regions developed certain preferences for the local species of wood. In New England and the Delaware Valley, white pine was often used: in the South, cypress and oak; in the far west, red cedar or redwood. Commonly in urban areas, wooden roofs were replaced with more fire resistant materials, but in rural areas this was not a major concern. wood_shingles Weathered_wood_shingles maxresdefault


As materials used for roofing have changed and evolved over time, so have the tools. For centuries roofing tools were very primitive, including a simple hammer and a pile of nails. Today, roofing is its own specialized industry with its own specialized set of tools. Of course, hammersand nails are still used today to shingle a standard roof, but the selection of specialized hammers has vastly broadened. The use of pneumatic nailers is especially popular among professional roofers and the do-it-yourselfers alike because of the ability to nail rapidly. Proper removal equipment is essential for tearing off the old shingles quickly and efficiently and safety equipment such as harnesses and protective glasses are a must. There have been numerous roofing materials used throughout history, and it is certain that there will be many more to add to the list as building practices continue to evolve. As long as people are in need of homes they will be in need of roofs. With the growing energy costs, roofing materials will continue to become even more efficient, cost effective, and energy friendly.

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Taking on a Roofing Project

Most homeowners will need to replace their roof at some point. How do you know when it’s time for a new roof? You should be inspecting it periodically to keep on top of repairs and be well aware of when you need to replace it. This is especially important if you live in a region with harsh or extreme weather, as that can cause damage to shingles or cause water buildup and leaking.

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#TBT Skil Saws


The circular saw was invented by French immigrant Edmond Michel in 1924. While living in New Orleans in the early 20s, Michel had observed a group of farmers painstakingly hacking away at sugar cane with large machetes. Michel began to experiment by mechanizing the machete. In 1923, Michel created a motorized machete with a 6-inch saw blade mounted on a carved wood frame and equipped with a motor from a malt mixer, creating the first electric handsaw.

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DeWalt DCR015 Jobsite Radio Dance Test

Product testing doesn’t get better than this DEWALT DCR015 Jobsite Radio Dance Test.

Check out additional videos about product testing, tool education and loads more on our youtube channel.

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Cyber Monday Deals!

It’s Cyber Monday, and we’ve got deals aplenty! Get huge savings and special offers on some of your favorite brands, including Milwaukee, DEWALT, Irwin, Hitachi, Porter Cable, SK, Rolair, Skil, Makita, Bosch, Dremel, Blaklader and Rotozip. Find tons of great products at amazing prices right now!

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Gift Guides

Need help with holiday shopping? Check out our Gift Guides. They make finding the perfect present for any tool-lover easy. The guides are broken down into various categories based on budget and who you are buying for. Whether you need an affordable gift, something for dad or a friend, you’ll be able to find the perfect present. Our guides have more than 100 quality, well-made tools and accessories for the professional or hobbyist on your list.

Have a look at our gift guide sections below:

Gifts Under $10

Gifts Under $25

Gifts Under $50

Gifts Under $100

Gifts Under $250

Gifts for Carpenters

Gifts for AV Installers & Data/Voice

Gifts for Electricians

Gifts for Hobbyists

Gifts for HVAC Technicians

Gifts for Mechanics

Gifts for the Outdoors

Gifts for Plumbers

Gifts for Dads

Gifts Made in USA

Gifts As Seen On TV

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Toolbarn on YouTube

Check out our youtube channel!  It features informational videos on the products we sell, in addition to un-boxing videos, staff picks, tool durability tests and more. These videos will help you find the information you need about the tools you’re interested in.

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Worm Drive or Sidewinder Circular Saw?

When purchasing a circular saw, consider the two types: worm drive and sidewinder.  Depending on the application, you’ll prefer one over the other. Geography certainly plays a role in popularity of either saw. The worm drive is most popular in the west and Midwest, while the sidewinder is more popular in the east.  However, in either region, it’s not uncommon to own both.

 The body of the worm drive circular saw is narrower than the sidewinder. It’s heavier and has a thicker, sturdier shoe. The motor of the worm drive is built toward the rear of the tool and the power is transferred to the blade by a pair of gears situated at a 90-degree angle of each other. The gear setup reduces the speed of the blade to about 4500 RPM. However this increases its torque. Because the motor is positioned in the rear, you have a much longer saw.  The length of the saw comes in handy when cutting wider stacks of lumber. The blade on the worm drive is on the left part of the tool, so most of the motor weight is on the right. This makes it easier to follow a cut line. The shape of the worm drive also makes plunge cutting easier. One downside of a worm drive saw is that because there are additional gears, you will need to maintain the oil levels.

 The sidewinder saw has a motor in line with the spinning blade. This brings the speed of the blade around 6000 RPM. The motor position allows for a lightweight, compact saw. The lighter weight makes the sidewinder ideal for overhead projects. Another benefit of having the blade on the right is the weight of the motor rests on the solid part of the board, rather than the cutoff.  A downside is that it’s difficult for the carpenter to see the cutline while cutting. Three benefits of owning a sidewinder are that you have the option of going cordless, they are less expensive and they don’t require oil.

 Once you decide which type is best for you, visit toolbarn.com and pick one for yourself.  We also have blades, extension cords and other tools for the job.

Check out this video that explains the difference between worm drive and sidewinder circular saws:

Tool Barn University – 6 The Difference Between Worm Drive & Sidewinder Saws

By Kendra C.
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Brushless Motors

Brushless motors have been around for many years. Only recently have they entered the power tool market. Tool companies are starting to use these motors to make their drills and impacts more efficient by pairing this motor with computer chips and lithium-ion batteries.

These components work together in three ways:

  1. The computer chips control the motor, so it only works as hard as it needs to.

  2. Without using brushes, the motor saves battery life, as brushes may cause unnecessary friction.

  3. The battery powers the computer chips, so they all work together to make a more efficient tool.

Companies say these types of drills last longer because they run cooler and more conservatively. Soon, companies will be releasing power tools with this same technology in more than just drills. There’s no telling where this technology could take us. Check out toolbarn.com to see all of our brushless selections.

Check out this informative video about brushless motors:

Tool Barn University 1 Brushless Motors

By Steve P.

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New from Rubbermaid

In need of cleaning, moving and storage tools? Check out Rubbermaid. It features a variety of quality-made and well-designed tools and accessories to take on a number of applications. Whether you need a quality dust extractor, a durable dolly or a sturdy tool box to store your tools and supplies, Rubbermaid has got you covered. Check it out to find exactly what you need.

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