From the 1790s, wood shingle and clay tiles were used for roofing, but the wood rotted, and the clay tiles were heavy.
In 1829, the British invention, corrugated iron, was patented. It became popular in Australia from the 1830s and was sometimes laid directly on top of the shingles. Corrugated iron was relatively cheap, durable, light, quick to install, and could be bent into a variety of shapes- bull-nosed, convex, ogee, eyelash, and barrel vault shapes, for example, can all be seen in Balmain. Verandah roofs were often painted with stripes to mimic a canvas awning- as in Clontarf Cottage.
Slate was imported to the colony from 1837, and was a more expensive and labour intensive roofing material, thus suited to buildings with aspirations to grandeur, such as Ewenton.