Like many other things we take for granted today, the beautiful, architectural, multi-layered shingles that give your home much of its curb appeal had humble beginnings. Learn more about Asphalt Shingles by clicking here.

Around 1840, the first layers of felt were covered with coal tar and rolled into sheets. Over the surface, a layer of defense was created using sand or ground shell. Nobody foresaw that this concept would develop into one of the most well-liked product innovations in the history of building materials.

Large distributors and real estate investors became interested in this “composite” waterproofing technology very quickly due to its dependability and cost.

A resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan, started manually cutting individual shingles in 1903, making the product easier to handle and install while also increasing its versatility and aesthetic value. The initial surface material was crushed slate granules. In 1915, continuous roll die-cutting made its industrial debut.

In order to strengthen wind uplift resistance, asphalt shingles were given a diamond cut shape in the 1920s, which increased their performance. By this time, asphalt, a petroleum derivative, had taken the place of coal tar and was more flexible.

Even more wind resistance was added to the shingles in the 1930s and 1940s by including a “locking” structure. The performance of weatherproofing was further improved by the development of increasingly sophisticated shingles. For instance, applying a larger two-tab shingle with asphaltic glue on low slope roofs resulted in a double layer of protection. The rate of innovation kept up with the almost constant, rapid expansion of the use of asphalt shingles.

The strip shingle was created, cellulose felt replaced rag felt as the primary material, and the variety of colors exploded in the 1960s and 1970s. Later, self-sealing adhesive strips were applied to the shingle’s surface during the manufacturing process, doing away with the need to manually apply adhesive to the shingle when it was time to install it on the roof. The conversion of strip shingles from imperial to metric sizes (12″ x 36″) sped up installation because fewer shingles were needed to cover a square of roof surface. By the 1980s, residential steep slope roofing in Canada and North America was primarily made of asphalt shingles, which had shown their value.