Concrete Roof Tiles – A Brief History

19 Jun

concrete roof tilesTiles have been used to cover roofs for over 5,000 years but it is only relatively recently that concrete roof tiles have come into the market. Their history comes from around the world, starting in Bavaria in the 19th century. Some roofs made in this time still stand, giving unquestionable proof of the longevity of a concrete tiled roof.

These tiles were introduced to England, Holland and other European countries in the early 1900s, where it became common to add a coloured pigment to the tiles surface so that they imitated clay roofing. These were all made on hand operated machines. The first power-driven machines were developed in Denmark in the 1920s. This machine, called the Ringsted, moved cast-iron moulds under a dispenser that poured in the concrete mix. Shortly after this machine came to England, an engineer named William Powell invented a new machine that was a considerable improvement to the Danish one. in 1930, H. A. Wilkinson, who was managing his father’s tile factory in Surry, England, decided to remove all the remaining handwork the machines required and designed a more efficient one. Improvements continued to appear each year and the industry developed quickly.

82% of all roofs in Great Britain were made with concrete roof tiles by 1961, 60% in Australia and 30% in Germany. Recent estimates indicate that around 90% of all roofs in Europe and the South Pacific Basin have concrete tiles, with China, Japan and America percentages rising.

Monier has been Australia’s leading concrete roof tile brand for over 60 years. The current ‘reinforced’ tiles originated from Joseph Monier, who invented and patented a wire reinforcement system for his concrete flowerpots. This was taken up by a German company in 1885, who developed an entire system for reinforcing concrete. This was known as ‘Monierbuilt’, or ‘Das System Monier’. The Monier brand first arrived in Australia in 1901 by a German who set up a concrete pipe manufacturing company in the Darling Harbour, using the Monier patent. This company went through many changes and finally in 1936, the company Cement Linings Ltd was established. This was the foundation for the Monier Company. This changed to Monier Limited by 1979 and had set up many businesses working in the building and construction industry.

Concrete roof tiles  often cost more to install than other roofing options but considering their extremely long lifespan it is almost always worth the investment. Modern concrete mixing techniques allow the tiles to fit various style requirements and can be made almost any colour. Thanks to all the improvements along the timeline concrete tiles now look spectacular and last a lifetime. They are well worth installing on your roof.


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