Tech Brief 16
Concrete Roof Tiles
What are concrete roof tiles?
Do you want the appearance of a tile roof but not the high cost? Consider
beautiful, long-lasting, and economical concrete roofing tiles. In the
middle of the 19th century, in Bavaria, a mixture of cement, sand
and water was first
used to form roof tiles out of concrete. Many homes built with these first
tiles still remain, proving their durability. In the early 1900s, coloring
pigments were added to concrete roofing tiles in Europe to simulate the appearance
of clay. While these early concrete tiles were handmade or made with semi-automated
machines, innovation over the past century has automated production, making
concrete tile more economical than other roofing products on a life cycle
What are the advantages of concrete roof tiles?
Concrete roof tiles most often last the lifetime of a house, typically
a limited lifetime, non-pro-rated, transferable warranty. Compare this
the limited warranties that accompany most composition shingles, and
how shorter lived products tend to overfill precious landfill
space. Concrete tiles are Class A fire rated and resistant
to damage from hail and high winds, typically achieving a minimum of
a Class 3 hail resistance rating. Concrete tiles can sustain
winds in excess of 125 miles per hour that would strip off
most other roofing materials. Testing has also shown concrete
tile roofing systems, when installed according to building code standards,
exceed current seismic load
requirements for building materials.
> Return to top
How much do concrete roof tiles cost?
Concrete tiles have grown more competitive in price, due
in part to the rising costs of petroleumbased products such as
asphalt shingles. Compared to unsightly weather-beaten asphalt shingles and their
replacement costs, concrete
roof tiles offer an affordable and economical alternative, especially
when considering their life cycle cost. Concrete tile roofs
have experienced 100-year lives in Europe.
What options do I have in selecting concrete roof tiles?
There are many style and color options available with concrete tile. Not
limited to Sunbelt construction, concrete tiles can be used in
cold climates provided specific installation precautions
are followed. Modern concrete tile designs can simulate the appearance
of traditional clay tiles,
wood shake, slate and stone. Like clay, concrete tile surfaces
can be textured or smooth, tile edges
can be uniform or ragged, and architects may select tiles of all
one color, blended colors or
combinations of two or more shades placed in a uniform or random
pattern. Regular portland
cement is gray, but is also available in white. Pigments can be
blended with either white or gray
cement to allow for virtually any desired color, including bright
whites, pastels and deep rich
shades. Lightweight concrete tiles are also available in some regions
of the country for re-roofing
applications where the roof structure is insufficient to support
standard weight concrete tiles.
> Return to top
How difficult is it to maintain concrete
A yearly visual inspection of a concrete roof can help protect
against accumulation of leaf debris in the valleys, or moss
growth that could create a damming effect with rain.
Moss and algae do not harm concrete tiles,
but periodic cleaning with a power washer
by a professional can remove them, and the
use of biocides or zinc strips may be incorporated
to slow the growth of these organisms.
After periods of high winds, earthquake,
or extensive hail, a visual inspection
of the roof should also be made to ensure
that there are no cracked, broken, or loose
tiles needing replacement.
What should I look for to be sure I'm getting a
A new roof is a big investment, so the quality of the roofing materials
you are specifying and the
reputation of the contractor are important considerations. According
to the Tile Roofing Institute,
there are several points to remember when choosing an installation
Referrals – Always obtain referrals from builders and homeowners
who have used concrete tile
contractors. Meet with them to get an appreciation for their commitment
to quality and value in
Look for a professional – Do they have a reputation for honesty
and quality? Do they complete their
jobs on time and within budget? Do they understand and abide by
manufacturer specifications for
Do your homework – Evaluate potential contractors’ insurance
policies and record their professional
license number so that you can ask your state’s Department of Professional
Licensing about its validity. Keep a healthy skepticism about performance
claims and check with
the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any claims against
Sign the contract – Do not allow your contractor to begin
work until you have both signed a contract
specifying the terms of the work, the start and end date, lien
releases, warranties, responsibility
for permits, the total installed cost and a payment schedule.
Make sure they agree to keep the job
site neat, clean and safe throughout the installation process.
> Return to top
What's the bottom line?
Concrete roof tiles are designed to last the lifetime of a house. Choose
a reputable manufacturer with
a strong warranty. Make sure the product you choose is appropriate
to your climate and will withstand
the natural forces that could affect the roof. Also, be sure to
select an installer familiar with manufacturer
specifications for quality.
For More Information
To learn more about concrete
roof tiles, installation practices,
and warranties visit:
Tile Roofing Institute - www.tileroofing.org
Roof Tile section of
the Concrete Homes website
Concrete Homes Helpline: (888) 333-4840
> Return to top