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Frequently Asked Questions

I really like tile roofs, but aren't they very expensive?

No. During the past few years, the installed cost of tile roofs has not increased as much as wood shakes and asphalt shingles. As a general rule, concrete tile roofs cost much less than slate, about two times more than wood shakes, and approximately three times more than heavy weight asphalt shingles. Clay roof tiles cost slightly more than concrete. However, both concrete and clay tile outlast most other roofing materials, with manufacturers offering warranties of 50 years or more. In fact, in Asia and Europe, many structures with clay roof tiles have remained not simply intact but also functional and beautiful for centuries. Concrete and clay roof tiles are also incredibly durable, withstanding severe weather conditions. Moreover, their superior aesthetics increase the value of any structure.

How long do tile roofs really last?

We don’t know. Clay tile roofs date back to Neolithic China, and many ancient structures with clay tile roofs still exist. And, in Europe and Asia, roof tiles have been the primary roofing product for hundreds of years. Both concrete and clay tile roofing systems, when installed properly, withstand weather conditions that begin to deteriorate other roofs the day they are installed. In general, a tile roof – concrete or clay – can reasonably be expected to outlast the building it protects.

Are tile roofs available that don't look Spanish?

Yes. 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 almost 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.

Most of the tile roofs I have seen are reddish orange. Are other colors available?

Yes. Through various production techniques, manufacturers have been able to augment the traditional range of roof tile colors to include earth tones that blend with the environment, vivid accent colors in blues and purples, and even white to help reduce summertime cooling bills. For additional variety, architects can also select roof tiles in blended colors or place different colored tiles in random or uniform patterns across roof surfaces.

Tiles last a long time, but how long will the color last?

Some clay roof tile manufacturers guarantee their tiles against fading for 50 years. Permanent coloring of roof tiles is achieved by adding pigment to the raw materials, applying a dense color glaze over the surface, or through blending various shades of pigment and glazing. How long the color lasts depends on the type of roof tile chosen – concrete or clay – as well as the method of coloring used. Colors achieved by adding pigment will last indefinitely. Varying degrees of color softening may occur after extended exposure to the elements. However, this occurs to a lesser degree with roof tile than with most other roofing materials.

I am a do-it-myselfer, Can I install my own tile roof?

Because tile is a unique product, it takes more of a craftsman to install a tile roof properly. Over 96% of all tile roofs are installed by professional roofing contractors. A handy person may be able to lay field tile without much trouble, but installing underlayment, battens, flashings for valleys, chimneys, solar panels, and skylights and cutting the tiles along hips and valleys are more complicated tasks. The Roof Tile Institute offers installation guides to help first-time and veteran installers. But remember: A tile roof is a permanent roof and in most cases will outlast the structure it supports, but to ensure its longevity you must use quality materials and install it properly. A poor installation job can be very expensive in the long run.

What about the insulation value of a tile roof?

Tile roofs are good insulators. The combined effect of the roof tiles, decking, and the “air space” between the tiles allows for better air circulation and thereby reduces direct heat transfer, resulting in lower air conditioning costs in the summer and a decrease in the formation of ice dams in the winter. Won’t my building have to be a lot stronger and more costly to support a tile roof? Most commercial or quality residential structures require little or no additional bracing. Additional costs, if any, to support tiles are usually an extremely small portion of the total project. I saw a news picture of a home with a tile roof surrounded by homes burned to the ground. Are homes with tile roofs fireproof? Clay and concrete roof tiles have Class A fire ratings, meaning they are non-combustible. And, both types of roof assemblies maintain their Class A fire ratings throughout their lifecycles. No additional or periodic treatments are required. In addition, buildings with Class A rated tile systems are eligible for the lowest fire insurance rates.

Won't my building have to be a lot stronger and more costly to support a tile roof?

Most commercial or quality residential structures require little or no additional bracing. Additional costs, if any, to support tiles are usually an extremely small portion of the total project.

Are homes with tile roofs fireproof?

Concrete tiles are non combustible. The complete roof assembly maintains a Class “A” rating when first installed and throughout its life without periodic treatment Buildings with Class “A” rated tile systems are eligible for the lowest fire insurance rates.

What about hail?

There have been situations where the most violent of storms have destroyed all types of roofing materials. However, in cases of more typical storms (2″ diameter hail or less), only 10% of the tiles were damaged, whereas other roofing products required complete replacement. A new study by the Roof Tile Institute and Factory Mutual using an ice canon will soon provide new hail warranty data for roofing products.

What about maintenance?

All roofing systems require some maintenance, and certain climates and regions have special issues to address regardless of the type of roofing system. Under normal conditions, tile roofs require minimal maintenance. With tile, maintenance is restricted to gutters, protrusion flashings, and venting. With other roofing systems, maintenance may include coating, painting, cleaning, and/or sealing the majority of the roof surface. I have heard that it may take several months to get delivery on tile. Is this true? No. Many new production facilities have been built during the past few years. While special colors will always require additional scheduling time, the most popular tiles can generally be shipped promptly.

I have heard that it may take several months to get delivery on tile. Is this true?

No. Many new production facilities have been built during the past few years. While special colors will always require scheduling time, the most popular tiles can generally be shipped promptly.

Why consider a tile roof instead of asphalt shingles?

APPEARANCE

There is not an asphalt shingle on the market that can match the superior aesthetics of clay and concrete roof tile. The numerous styles, hundreds of colors, and variety of finishes available with roof tile allow you and your designer to create a roof to suit virtually any architectural style or one that is entirely unique.

PERFORMANCE

Clay roof tile has been used for centuries worldwide and for good reason. Both clay roof tile and its modern partner, concrete, are not only beautiful but also extremely durable. With proper building design and installation, tile roofs can last 50 to 100 years or more. They do not rot in wet climates and are not susceptible to destruction by pests. They can be used in any climate or region and can withstand the severest weather conditions, including fire, wind, and snow. For these reasons, most roof tile manufacturers offer warranties of at least 50 years.

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

Both clay and concrete roof tiles are made from naturally occurring materials that do not deplete precious natural resources. They are manufactured without chemical preservatives, and old tiles can be recycled to make new tiles or other products. Moreover, roof tiles are energy efficient: because of the superior thermal capacity of roof tiles and the ventilated air space that their placement on the roof surface creates, a tile roof can lower air conditioning costs in hotter climates and produce more constant temperatures in colder regions, which reduces potential ice accumulation.

COST EFFECTIVE

With superior aesthetics, durability, and longevity, roof tile is a cost-effective alternative to other roofing products. A simple comparison of lifecycle costs makes clear that a tile roof is one of the best deals available today.