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Clay tiles have long been a part of architectural and cultural history. The roofing material goes all the way back to the Neolithic period, which was roughly 10 000 BCE. The material was recognized for its durability, affordability and overall strength and longevity. Throughout history, clay rose and fell in popularity in different countries worldwide, but today it is one of the most expensive and popular roofing materials on the market.


Origins of Tile Roofing

The earliest record of clay being used as a roofing material can be found in China as far back as the Neolithic Age. But thanks to The Silk Road and other forms of trade, the use of clay tiles slowly made its way to the Middle East and eventually Europe. According to archaeologist David Graeber, the oldest discovered terra-cotta roofing tiles were found in the Temple of Hera’s Olympia ruins. It is believed that the tile dates back to 1000 BCE.

Cities like Paris, Rome, Prague, Madrid and other cities across Europe are known for their red terracotta roof tiles. These tiles characterise the landscapes of these cities. Many stories have been written about them, artists have performed across them, and lovers have sat on them, gazing lovingly at the night sky.

But Europe isn’t the only place that embraced the roof tiles. Remnants and ruins of historic clay tiles can be found scattered across the world. People everywhere recognised its strength and durability. They were also cheap to manufacture as many communities situated along riverbeds used clay and mud and baked them in the sun to form the roof tiles. And because they last pretty much forever, you can visit these old towns and still see the buildings’ original roof tiles.


Arriving In The New World

When the Dutch, Spanish and French set up their colonies across the New World, they brought their trusted clay roofing tiles and designs with them. You’ll see the clay tiles laid by the Dutch in the Northeast. They loved the roofing material so much that they set up a small manufacturing plant along the upper Hudson River valley. In California, the Spanish missionaries favored the clay tile and used it for all their architecture. In New Orleans, the French used the tile to add a unique European flair to the city. Tile and clay shards have even been found in the early Jamestown and St. Augustine settlements.



Clay tiles are used today to create all kinds of aesthetics. Some use it to imitate European luxury villas, others use it to add some colour and vibrance to their home, but most use the tile because of its strength, durability and longevity. For whatever reason, there is a roofing tile out there for just about everyone.

Looking to add some personality to your home, then give Roofs For Life a call today so that we can get started on your new tile roof.

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