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A History of Tile in Snow Regions of the Upper Midwest

A guest article by TRI Director Michael Lukis.

Mike-Lukis-Tile-Roofs-IncIn my 38 years of working with tile roofing I have been involved with the installation and manufacturing of concrete and clay roof tiles, primarily in the northern roof climates of the Midwest and northeastern United States.

I often hear the comment that a tile roof is a Florida or California roof. In reality tile roofing has a long and successful history in the snow regions. In the greater Chicago area and other major northern metro areas there are thousands of tile roof systems that were installed from the 1920s to the 1940s. With proper maintenance many of these roofs are still in place and performing very well to this day. These tile roofs cover historical landmark structures, churches and middle class to upscale residential homes.

TRI Chicago Soldier Field

Clay Tile Roof installed by Mortenson Roofing, Soldier Field, Chicago, IL

There were more local roof tile manufacturers in those days. During World War II many factories closed and never reopened after the war. A few of these older tile roof manufacturers remain to this day as well as some newer regional and national manufacturers that have begun producing even higher quality roof tiles. Manufacturers now offer 50 year, 75 year and even lifetime transferable warranties on their tile roofing material. Several are good for use in any weather climate.
In northern climates roof tiles are often installed on a batten system. The benefits of a raised batten system have been recognized for energy savings and roof performance in both cold and hot climates. When installing roof tiles on a batten system airspace between the roof deck and the roof tiles provides added ventilation and as much as 20% savings in energy costs. Another important benefit is the reduction of ice dams caused by snow melting and re-freezing on a roof system applied directly to the roof deck.
Proper installation is one of the most important aspects of a successful tile roof system. Different climates and regions require different installation techniques and flashing details. Manufacturing members of the Tile Roofing Institute support proper installation techniques through training and detailed installation guides. Some provide additional training support specific to their products.
Tile roofing presents an opportunity for contractors, architects and builders to provide a higher quality, longer-lasting roof system that will bring greater value to buildings and building owners than any other roof system available today, especially when you account for the actual cost per year of other roof systems. In the northern climates, tile roofing provides an opportunity for a roofing contractor to increase their bottom line and set themselves apart from the crowd in a competitive roofing market.

About the Author

Michael LukisMichael Lukis has worked in the tile roofing industry since 1977, as a slate and tile roofing apprentice, journeyman, foreman, project manager, Vice-President, and became company President of  Mortenson Roofing Co., Inc. in 2000. He founded Tile Roofs, Inc., a supplier of new and salvaged historic vintage clay and concrete roof tile, in 1992,  and is the current General Manager. He is also the Owner/General Manager of Vande Hey Raleigh Roof Tile Manufacturing Company, LLC. Mike has been on the TRI Board since 2011 and has been a featured speaker at TRI Certification classes in the Midwest.

One Response to A History of Tile in Snow Regions of the Upper Midwest

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