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Metal Roofing Through Time: A History

Dec 01, 2018

Some homeowners might think that metal roofing is a relatively new phenomenon, but it’s one of the oldest roofing materials in existence. Just as it is today, metal roofing has long been a superior roofing material and architects often used it on buildings of political or religious significance. Let’s explore a brief history of metal roofing through time by looking at how different common materials came to be used.


The most ancient forms of aluminum were compounds called alums, originally used by the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. Experts think alums have been in use since around 2000 B.C. Structures of religious significance, such as the Dome of the Rock in Israel, used an early example of alum coated with gold leaf.

Aluminum began to boom in the 1800s in Europe and Australia, and during the industrial revolution in the United States. It began as a material reserved for important buildings or stately homes but has become increasingly more commonplace over time. In the present day, it’s common for the roofing of everyday homes, though it’s still not the cheapest metal on the market.


Copper, alongside aluminum, is one of the oldest metal compounds in the world used as roofing. Beginning as early as 300 B.C., the Byzantine Empire utilized copper roofing on intricate examples of Asian architecture – religious buildings and otherwise.

By the Middle Ages, copper had become a staple in Europe. Churches, capitals, convents, and monasteries across what is now the UK, Germany, and other countries in Western Europe utilized copper for intricate roofing systems. Remarkably, some original copper roofs more than 700 years old are still in use in Europe today!

Stateside, copper has a reputation for covering church steeples, intricate roofing of state buildings and capital domes, and adorning the roofs of high-end homes. Though it is the most expensive common metal, it is becoming less rare to see copper on average homes as it becomes easier to source. Of all the metals, it is one of the easiest to work with and to solder. That is possibly the reason it makes a great material for complex roof designs.


Galvanized and galvalume steel have joined the ranks of common metal roofing, bringing us to the here and now. Much of new technology in the realm of metal roofing is based around combining metal compounds to create the right relationship of the main metal and the coating. Galvalume steel, for example, combines the positive traits of both steel and aluminum with a specialized hot-dipped coating.

With so many metal roofs around the world – new and old – there’s much evidence to be found of just how versatile and resilient metal roofing is. If you can’t wait to get a metal roof of your own, contact Erie Home to learn more.

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Prompt and professional, courteous and friendly. They did a great job, answered all our questions well, and worked to get us the best price. The roof looks amazing, and our furnace doesn't come on as...
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