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Upgrading to Tile Roofing

Until 30 or 40 years ago, almost all roof tiles installed in the United States were clay tiles, like those used for thousands of years in Europe and China. In the past few decades, though, concrete roofing tiles have edged out clay on residential roofs and now dominate the market.

 

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.

 

Roof tiles, whether concrete or clay, are very resistant to fire. Although some traditionalists prefer clay tiles over concrete, there is no arguing with the main advantage of concrete tiles: They cost about half as much as clay.

 

Standard-weight concrete roof tiles generally weigh between 9 1/2 and 12 pounds per square foot — significantly more than asphalt shingles, which weigh only 2 1/2 to 4 pounds per square foot. For houses where weight is a concern, many tile manufacturers offer lightweight roof tiles weighing 5 1/2 to 7 pounds per square foot. These tiles are made with a lightweight aggregate, like expanded shale, instead of sand.

 

If you're reroofing a house with existing asphalt shingles and you're not sure whether the roof structure is adequate to support concrete tiles, you should have the roof framing checked by an engineer before proceeding.

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