Flat Roofing Crew on Queens, NY building

09 Oct The History Of The Flat Roof

Man is a product of nature. The statement is backed up by the fact that the latter has actively and sub-consciously shaped the former. Eons ago, our ancestors used to live in caves abandoned by wild beasts and spend a good deal of their time on guard, so that the animal may not return to claim its place. As history progressed, humans moved out of these caves and decided that they’ll replicate the design of Mother Nature and make a similar structure, but for their very own use! This is essentially what led to the creation of the first ‘man-made’ house. Likewise, the first house made probably did not confirm the plethora of things we may conform to in this century, but it was a house nonetheless. A major component of these houses was flat roofs. Let us dive in further and look at the history of this roofing method that is now again on the rise in modern society!

What are flat roofs?

A flat roof is a roof in which all the points or space in it is ‘level’ and balanced, as opposed to sloped or tilted. This essentially means that if you were to put a tennis ball on the roof, it wouldn’t roll off the edge due to gravity!

How did flat roofs start?

Flat roofs have been around for a very long while. Back then, this idea was fairly prevalent since there were no useful applications for having a tilted roof and our ancestors weren’t too keen on aesthetics. The roof normally was thatched, such as that the material that made up most of the roof was straw, leaves or branches. Thick branches and leaves were normally used with clay pressed in between the empty spaces to ward off all sources of sunlight from above.

Where were flat roofs more commonly found?

Flat roofs have been around the longest in the Middle East and the American south-west. The common thing about both of these is that in these regions, the climate is frequently dry with not a lot of rain. Though different places prefer different building materials, a general trend where these were found was that rain was essentially minimal and that the prospect of ‘freezing’ temperature was unheard of. This technique was most familiar with the Egyptian and Arabian architecture.

How did this concept migrate to the west?

Well, for most of history, it did not. The thought of having a flat roof was dreadful in the early 19th century due to the lack of basic drainage system back then. Roofs were mostly sloped so that rain and snow may roll/seep down, thanks to gravity. Innovations in the 20th century saw a great boom in the drainage industry, which is what led to an influx of modern ideas on how to design roofs effectively and better, to save money and space.  Since flat roofs served as a cheaper yet equally useful alternative, people started using it, which is why it is virtually all over the globe these days.


Royal Roofing Queens 68-38 Main Street #2 Flushing, NY 11367 Phone: (718) 489-4009 https://www.kingsqueensroofing.com

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