With over a century of proper field performance in other parts of the world, tiles provide the longest track record of performance compared to other roofing materials such as asphalt shingles. Its modern engineering design provides a natural water shedding and ventilation feature allowing tiles to be the primary roof covering in warm and cold climates (even reducing ice damming in cold areas). Tile’s higher weight and strength allows it to meet the anticipated loads of today’s design requirements for all of the climatic regions.
Clay tile is produced by baking molded clay into tile. The density of the clay is determined by the length of time and temperature at which it is heated. Tiles may be glazed and also may have surface texture treatments applied. As a result, there are a wide variety of tile profiles, styles, finishes and colors available. In addition, there may be separate accessory tiles—matched to each field tile design—of various shapes designed for use on ridges, hips, hip intersections and gable ends. Installation methods depend on the nature of the tile being installed; that is, whether it is two piece, one piece, interlocking or flat.
Concrete tiles are made of portland cement, sand and water in varying proportions. The material is mixed and extruded on molds under high pressure. The exposed surface of a tile may be finished with cementitious material colored with synthetic oxide additives. The tiles are cured to reach the required strength. They generally have lugs on their undersides for anchoring to batten strips. There are additional waterlocks or interlocking ribs on the longitudinal edges that impede movement and prevent water infiltration.
As with clay tile, there are a wide variety of profiles, styles, finishes and colors available. Color may be added to the surface of a tile or dispersed throughout (color through). Special texture may be added in surface treatment. Each type of tile roof system may make use of separate ridge, hip, hip intersection, gable end and finial accessory tiles of various shapes in addition to field tiles.
Roof tiles come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. In fact, with modern innovations, concrete and clay roof tile manufacturers can produce tiles to suit any architectural style, from authentic Spanish and Mediterranean to New England Colonial, historic, or contemporary. Roof tiles can be flat or round, simulate wood shakes, or seek to replicate centuries-old roofing materials. The possibilities are virtually limitless.
Colors in tile come from natural sources such as the color and mixture of the clay used in clay tiles or from iron oxide pigments in concrete tiles, both of which are extremely durable. Tiles may experience varying degrees of color softening after extended exposure to the elements. However, this occurs to a lesser degree with roof tile than with most other roofing materials. Some clay roof tile manufacturers guarantee their tiles against fading for 50 years.
To maintain their long-lasting beauty, the weight of tile is important because it provides enduring protection without developing problems like other roofing materials. Most homes built today are strong enough to support the weight of a tile roof. There are also varieties of lightweight tile offered in certain regions of the country that are ideal for new and re-roofing projects. Tile is fast becoming the re-roofing product of choice due not only to its durability but also to its ease of maintenance. Single tiles are much easier to repair than other roofing materials.
Clay and concrete tile roofs are one of the most cost-effective choices due to their long lifespan—50 to 100 years or more. Both concrete and clay tile outlast other roofing materials, with manufacturers offering warranties from 50 years to the life of the structure. In fact, in Asia and Europe, many structures with clay roof tiles have remained intact, functional and beautiful for centuries.