Concrete is a popular roofing material that has been around since the Roman Empire. Concrete tiles stand out for their versatility. You can install them in your new house or use them to restore a failing roof. They will also fit different architectural styles, whether traditional or contemporary.
Concrete tile roofing has many advantages. But just like other roofing materials, it has drawbacks as well. This article will highlight some of these pros and cons. We will also throw in a few buying tips to help you select the best tiles for your roof.
Table of Contents
- Pros of Concrete Tiles
- Cons of Concrete Tiles
- Concrete Roof Buying Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
Pros of Concrete Tiles
People often place concrete tiles in the same category as clay and slate tiles. While the three have commonalities, there are vital differences. Some of these will become apparent as we highlight the pros and cons.
On average, a concrete tile roof will last for 50 years. However, it can even survive for 100 years if properly installed and maintained. That means you will not have to worry about installing another roof for the lifetime of the house.
The following table compares the life expectancy of different roofing materials.
Concrete offers one of the best protection from the elements. For one, it has a class A fire rating. That makes it your best bet if you live in an area prone to natural fires. Concrete tiles are also a great option if your area experiences high winds. The tiles can sustain wind speeds of up to 125 miles per hour.
Moreover, a concrete roof can withstand exceedingly cold temperatures. That is unlike clay tiles which crack when exposed to harsh cold temperatures. Furthermore, manufacturers can also treat the tiles to withstand freeze-thaw cycles.
As we mentioned earlier, concrete tiles are versatile. They will fit in regardless of the style of the building. Additionally, they have varying styles, shapes, patterns, and colors to suit different design needs.
Aesthetics has been an issue in the past. Concrete tiles didn’t seem to have the classic charm of clay and slate tiles. Technology has since changed things. Today, you can get concrete tiles that mimic the look of slate and clay. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to differentiate them from the real thing.
4. Low Maintenance
Concrete tile roofing requires minimal maintenance. That’s because repairs and replacements are rare, owing to the durability of the tiles.
However, moss and mildew build-up can occur due to dirt and debris accumulation. Nevertheless, you can prevent this problem by cleaning the roof once a year.
Concrete tiles are environmentally friendly. Making them only involves mixing sand, cement, and water under intense heat and pressure. All these materials occur naturally. Moreover, the tiles are recyclable.
Additionally, concrete tiles are durable and rarely need replacing. Therefore, installing them contributes to minimizing landfill waste. Last but not least, they are energy efficient since they contribute to lowering your cooling and heating bills. For the environmentally conscious, this is the route to go.
6. Concrete Roof Tiles Price
Concrete tiles are cheaper than clay or slate tiles. Buying materials alone will cost you between $2 and $4 per square foot. The cost will rise to $9 to $18 per square foot after installation. The total cost for clay roofing falls between $8 and $25 per square foot. Slate is even more expensive.
The following table compares the cost of the three materials per square foot.
Cost of Buying
$2 to $4
$9 to $18
$3 to $7
$8 to $25
$5 to $15
$10 to $30
7. Energy Efficiency
Concrete is a thick material that has a low heat transfer. Therefore, it will keep your home cooler during the summer and warmer during winter. It also offers UV protection. That will translate to lower heating and cooling bills.
Cons of Concrete Tiles
Every roofing material has drawbacks. Even if you are sold on concrete tile roofing, it is imperative to consider the cons too.
Concrete tile roofing is heavy. It is only rivaled by slate in this respect, weighing between 820 to 1200 pounds per square. Therefore, you may need to consult a structural engineer about reinforcing the deck. Otherwise, the entire roof could cave in due to the pressure.
2. High Initial Cost
Including cost as a con may seem like a contradiction since we already listed it as a pro. However, concrete is only cheaper when compared to its cousins slate and clay. Otherwise, the cost you will incur to install is higher than options like asphalt and wood shake.
But although the initial costs are high, concrete tile roofing is a cost-effective option in the long run. For one, the repairs and maintenance are minimal since the tiles are durable. Also, concrete tiles are energy efficient and will significantly lower your heating and cooling bills.
Concrete tiles are more porous than clay and slate and will absorb more water in humid environments. That creates two problems. First, it makes the tiles heavier, thus putting more strain on the roof deck. Secondly, it causes the surface to appear chalky after combining with carbon dioxide and lime. However, you can clean off the stain easily.
Concrete tiles are brittle. That means they will crack or break under impact. Therefore, you must be careful when walking on the tiles. Falling branches can also cause damage. So, consider clearing those as well.
5. Challenging to Install
Installing concrete tiles is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. It also requires specialized knowledge and skills.
DIY is out of the question. Instead, you need to hire a professional installer to handle the installation. And even then, they should have experience installing concrete tiles in particular. Getting the installation wrong could compromise the roof’s weather tightness. As a result, it may not last as long as expected.
Concrete Roof Buying Tips
Here are a few buying tips to help you when selecting the best concrete tiles for your roof.
Concrete Tiles Types
Concrete roof tiles come in three different profiles:
This profile includes tiles with a surface rise of ½ inches or below. They have a clean look and can fit on any roof. Flat tiles fall in this category.
Tiles in this category are those whose rise to width ratio is 1.5 or lower. Roofs with these types of tiles usually resemble Mediterranean architecture.
The tiles also go by the name mission S-tiles and sometimes Spanish S. They usually have a rise to width ratio that exceeds 1.5.
Where to Buy Concrete Roof Tiles
You can buy concrete roof tiles from any manufacturer or supplier located within the country. Popular manufacturers include Boral Roof tile and Components, Eagle Roofing Products, Evergreen Slate Company, and Ludowici.
Are Concrete Roof Tiles Expensive?
The initial cost of installing a concrete roof is high. However, you can save money further down the road. Repairs will be minimal, and you will save a lot on energy bills.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do concrete roof tiles fail?
Although concrete tile roofing is highly weather-resistant, it can fail due to extreme weather conditions. For instance, high winds during hurricanes can dislodge or break them. Repeated heating and cooling could also cause breakages.
Failing to maintain the roof regularly can also lead to failure. For example, you need to clean your roof regularly (once a year) to avoid moss and mildew build-up. Failing to make repairs immediately will also lead to leakages and further damage.
Some common concrete tile roofing issues are usually a result of faulty installation. That is why we emphasize hiring experienced installers only.
Can you walk on concrete roof tiles?
Concrete tiles are brittle and can crack or break under impact. Ideally, you should avoid walking on them. However, you might have to climb onto your roof once in a while during cleaning or maintenance. So, walking on the tiles may be inevitable.
There is a method to it, though.
Before stepping on tiles, ensure you have worn soft-soled shoes. Walk without exerting too much pressure while making sure to distribute your weight evenly. Also, ensure you step on the spot where the edges of adjacent tiles overlap.
What is the life expectancy of a concrete tile roof?
A concrete tile roof can last for 50+ years. It can even last 100 years if you use experienced installers and maintain it regularly.
Is a concrete tile roof the right option for you? Well, the answer will depend on your present roofing needs. For instance, installing an expensive concrete roof may not make economic sense if you are looking for a temporary roofing solution.
If you intend to stay in your current home for many years to come, then a concrete roof is a viable option. The initial cost may be expensive, but you will have saved money in the long term. That’s because maintenance will be minimal, and you will pay relatively less in energy bills.
A concrete roof will also increase the resale value of your home. Therefore, you should still consider installing one if you intend to sell the property sometime in the future.