Learn about the benefits of concrete roofing tiles
Concrete roof tile is made of sand, cement and water. The specific materials and amounts vary with each manufacturer but they basically are Portland cement, blended hydraulic cements and fly ash, sand, and other aggregates. Most of the several manufacturers’ concrete tile products look similar in size, shape and colors.
There are three main appearances (or profiles) of concrete tiles.
Flat Profile concrete roof tile is flat – no curves, which are often designed to look like wood shakes or slates.
Low Profile concrete roof tile has small curves with a rise to width ratio equal to 1:5 or less and are also called villa tiles.
High Profile concrete roof tile has larger curves than the Low Profile tiles and are also called S-tiles (or “Spanish S”).
Tile manufacturers provide trim tiles specifically designed to complement their various tile profiles.
Available in several different colors, it is also available in a couple of textures. The surface can be smooth or rough and most of the color is impregnated rather than just slurry coated.
Concrete tile is available in standard weight or lightweight. It’s advisable to stay away from lightweight tile, if possible. They are much weaker, making them hard to walk on without breaking and are very susceptible to breakage from hail or heavy snow loads. Lightweight tile costs more than standard weight and most professional agree that the extra money spent for them would be better spent on a consultation fee with a structural engineer.
A concrete tile roof is marketed as a 50 year roof. But even if good material and the proper installation procedures are used, the roof will probably not last that long. The underlayment and batten system will generally have to be replaced in 30 to 40 years, sooner if inferior materials and installation procedures were used. Concrete tile also loses color and some surface texture after several years.
Tile roofs are more prone to moisture penetration from wind driven rain or snow than any other type of roofing product. That is why the underlayment, batten system, and flashing and how they are installed is the key to how long a tile roof lasts and are very important. Most Concrete Tile roofs are single ply systems. Asphalt Shingles are 2 plies and Wood Shakes and Shingles are 2 and 3 plies. And almost everything gets in under a tile roof: rain, snow, leaves, dirt, and even small birds, animals and their nests and insects like wasps and bees. A concrete tile roof can be a very good one if it and the underlayments, battens, and flashings are installed correctly.
Concrete Tile, if properly installed with the appropriate materials, is more expensive compared to most Asphalt Shingles. It is less than most Clay Tile and in the same price range as a properly installed Cedar Shake or Shingle roof.
Until 30 or 40 years ago, almost all roof tiles installed in the United States were clay. In the past few decades, concrete roofing tiles have edged out clay on residential roofs and now dominate the market. Although some traditionalists still prefer clay tiles over concrete, the main advantage of concrete tiles: They cost about half as much as clay.
The color of a clay tile is not affected by exposure to the elements; the same cannot be said of concrete tiles. Although most concrete roof tiles are manufactured with an integral pigment that colors the entire thickness of the tile, the color of concrete tiles will fade over time.
Well-made concrete tiles will last a long time, though probably not as long as clay tiles. Many European clay tile roofs are still waterproof after a century of service.
Although some early concrete roof tiles had durability problems, especially in areas with frequent freeze/thaw cycles, most concrete roofing tile manufacturers claim today’s concrete tiles are more durable than ever. Isolated cases of seriously deteriorated concrete roof tiles are rare. Standard-weight concrete roof tiles generally weigh between 9 1/2 and 12 pounds per square foot vs. only 2 1/2 to 4 pounds per square foot for asphalt shingles. When reroofing a house with existing asphalt shingles where weight is a concern, an engineer should be consulted to see if the roof structure is adequate to support concrete tiles before proceeding.
Low-slope installations on a roof with a pitch below 3/12 need to consult the tile manufacturer for installation specifications. Low-slope applications require a carefully detailed waterproof membrane–a self-sticking bituminous membrane, for example–under the tiles. In addition, many tile manufacturers require that tiles on a low-slope roof be installed using a method that minimizes the number of fasteners that penetrate the membrane.
The main advantage of concrete tiles over clay tiles is their lower cost. Proponents of clay tiles usually mention two advantages of clay over concrete tiles: better colorfastness and longer physical durability.
Although some early concrete roof tiles had durability problems, especially in areas with frequent freeze/thaw cycles, most concrete roofing tile manufacturers claim that today’s concrete tiles are more consistent and durable than ever. Although there are reports of isolated cases of seriously deteriorated concrete roof tiles, tile manufacturers claim that such problems are rare and occur only when a bad batch of tiles gets through their quality-control systems.
What are the main advantages of Concrete Tile Roofing?
It is fairly easy to repair if a tile is broken.
It should last 30 to 40 years with the proper installation of the underlayment, battens and flashing.
It is a Class A Fire Rated roof system if properly installed.
It is more resistant to damage from hail than many other types of Roofing materials.
It is resistant to wind blow off if properly nailed with one nail in every lugged tile and two nails in every non-lugged tile.
It allows snow to slide off the roof easier than most other roofing materials, especially the smooth version.
It can be installed in all temperatures from near 0 to 120 degrees or more.
What are the main disadvantages of Concrete Tile Roofing?
It is one of the most difficult roofing materials to install correctly because it slow and difficult to cut valleys and around roof protrusions and a special saw must be used. It requires a good deal of craftsmanship. A beginner can be taught to install one properly in about six months or so.
It is a single ply roofing system, which means a hole drilled anywhere through the exposed surface area of the tile would reach the underlayment without going through any additional layers of tile.
It easily allows moisture to penetrate the tile butts and sides to the underlayment.
It cannot be walked on without damaging the roof unless proper walking techniques are used. Finding a leak can be a nightmare.
It is very difficult to install on small areas and on difficult architectural areas.
It is heavy, from about 7.5 pounds per square foot for lightweight tile to over 10 or 11 pounds per square foot for standard weight tile.
It starts fading within the first year.
It is very difficult to match colors if a tile needs to be replaced.
It is very slippery when wet. Is very dangerous to walk on when wet.
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