Sunday, December 28, 2014

Tile Roofs – Clay or Concrete?

Ask ten Miami roofers, “Which is better, concrete tile or clay tile?” – and it may end up a tie. I prefer concrete, and I’ll tell you why, but it really is a matter of taste. We recently completed two tile roofs, one in Miami Springs and another in Coral Gables, which illustrate the differences and similarities very well.


There are three things to consider when mulling one’s options for tile roofs in Miami – color, profile and concrete or clay? Follow my posts for a while and you’ll notice a preference for white. Shingle roofs, tile, metal roofs - it doesn’t matter - white is better for energy efficiency and durability. I also prefer Spanish S, or barrel, tiles over flat tiles as they allow less water to penetrate through to the waterproofing underlayment. Without poring over engineering and testing reports I can tell you that barrel tiles are also stronger, having walked on thousands. Medium-profile, or Double-S tiles, are even stronger but I am not a big fan of how they look – that’s just me.

It is the strength of concrete that leads me to prefer it over clay. I am comparing the common, mainstream products used in residential roofing systems in South Florida. There are some clay tiles, Ludovici for one, which are comparable to concrete in strength but as I said, I am talking about mainstream products - Ludovici is extremely expensive. You may have read that pound-for-pound clay tile is just as strong as concrete, if not stronger. That may be true, the problem is clay tiles are thinner and that is the main reason for their overall tendency to break. To put it to rest, I have been called dozens of times by distraught homeowners who have had their clay tile roofs badly damaged by exterminators after having their homes tented. I have never gotten such a call from someone with a concrete tile roof.

So, it’s official, Roofer Mike likes white concrete barrel tile. I do, but I am looking at it mostly from a roofer’s perspective in consideration of roof integrity. To me these benefits trump aesthetics and I am not shy about bringing them to a client’s attention if they are at all indecisive as to a selection. I have learned, however, that while it is OK to be so bold as to suggest, you must respect a client’s preferences. In keeping with my general philosophy I put the information out there and let the customer decide.  I have had many people tell me they haaate white and they hate barrel tiles and they love clay. Given that tile roofs are very attractive systems I must respect a person’s decision when they put aesthetics first, as these customers did when they went in different directions with their choices. One went with a terra cotta concrete barrel tile while the other went with a Spanish S clay tile roof, also terra cotta. I am not captioning the photos here. Can you tell which one is clay? Suffice to say the concrete tile manufacturer did a good job mimicking clay tile.    Related Content  

by Michael Slattery                                                                                                 
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