Asphalt shingles is the most used roofing material in North America, making up as much as 75% of all steep slope roofs. This type of material is also gaining popularity in Europe due to lower installation costs. Asphalt shingles dominate North American residential roofing market, because they are about half the price of other materials.
Some types of roofing, for example thatch, require a steep pitch in order to be waterproof and durable. Other types of roofing, for example pantiles, are unstable on a steeply pitched roof but provide excellent weather protection at a relatively low angle. In regions where there is little rain, an almost flat roof with a slight run-off provides adequate protection against an occasional downpour. Drainpipes also remove the need for a sloping roof.
In the United States, regulation of the roofing trade is left up to individual states. Some states leave roofing regulation up to county-level and municipal-level jurisdictions. In California, for example, the California Contractors State License Board licenses and monitors roofing contractors. Unlicensed contracting of projects worth over a set threshold may result in stiff fines or even time in prison. In Oklahoma roofers are required to meet insurance and roofing license guidelines. Roofers are also required to show their license number on their marketing material.
Stone lintels have been used to support roofs since prehistoric times, but cannot bridge large distances. The stone arch came into extensive use in the ancient Roman period and in variant forms could be used to span spaces up to 140 feet (43 m) across. The stone arch or vault, with or without ribs, dominated the roof structures of major architectural works for about 2,000 years, only giving way to iron beams with the Industrial Revolution and the designing of such buildings as Paxton's Crystal Palace, completed 1851.
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