Category Archives: Materials

Tile Roof Cost and Pros & Cons – Clay Vs. Concrete Tile 2017-2018

Tiles are mankind’s oldest manufactured roofing material, with the first use of clay tiles dating back to Ancient China. Throughout history, their durability made them the go-to choice for roofs in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. In fact, today’s roofing authorities are reluctant to say exactly how long new tile roofs will last — they may last forever! 😉


Pricing Details

As with all roofing materials, but perhaps not so much as with tile, the upfront costs must be differentiated from the life-cycle costs. With the exception of some very high quality slate, clay tile is the most expensive roofing system you can get.

Count on a tile roof costing two times as much as a wood shake roof and four times more than asphalt shingles.

Depending on your region and the product you choose, expect to pay between $12.00 and $25.00 per square foot for a ceramic clay tile roof installed.

Concrete tiles are less expensive than clay, so they would be on the lower end of the above pricing range.

The color, style, and grade of the tile you choose, including its weight and thickness, is what will determine the actual cost of materials, while installation costs will vary, depending on your location.

Total Cost Installed

On average, a typical 2,000 square feet tile roof will cost between $25,000 and $45,000 to install, depending on the profile, roof difficulty, choice of material, and location. Note: higher-end clay tiles can cost significantly more than low-end and mid-range tiles. Note: It’s not unheard of for a tile roof to cost as much as $50,000 installed, especially when you deal with a complex roof requiring a lot of tile cutting and labor.

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Historic Context and Larger Picture — Old School Tiles and Modern Revival

In the United States, tile roofing techniques traveled across the ocean with the Dutch on the East Coast and the Spanish missionaries along the Gulf Coast and out West.

Tiles were formed with clay and fired to produce the familiar orange-ish colors. Minerals could be infused into the baking process to create a colored tile and glazes could also be added to the natural terra cotta to increase the variety of colors.

With the abundance of trees in northern America, wood roofing soon replaced tile as a favorite house covering. Tile would go in and out of favor, owing to the vagaries of architectural styles. In the mid-1800s, when flat-roofed Italianate villas became a momentary rage, the demand for tile surged. In the 1920s American architects introduced Revival styles in Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial, Italian Renaissance and Mission designs which kick-started the clamor for tile roofs once again.

Spanish style clay tile roof on a stucco home in Florida

Today, clay and concrete are the two most common types of tiles used to cover roofs.

Clay tiles were historically hand-formed until the 1870s when tile making machines were first invented. Large manufacturing plants were then established in areas rich in clay such as the Ohio River Valley, northern Georgia and western New York. Today, almost all roofing tiles are machine-made.

The technology to fabricate tiles from cement became available in the 20th century. The gray concrete was impregnated with iron oxides to do duty as imitation terra cotta tile, imitation slate and even imitation wood shakes.

Tiles can be extruded to form nearly any shape. They can be churned out flat, as with shingles that overlap and interlock on a roof. They can be the familiar barrel style which are laid in vertical rows of half-circles. They can be S-tiles that have concave and convex troughs that overlap across a rooftop. No matter what shape tiles take, they are among the most decorative of all choices for roof coverings.

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Best Roofing Materials for Homes 2017-2018: Roofing Material Costs, and Pros & Cons

This comprehensive guide to roofing materials is all the research you need to evaluate the top choices for residential re-roofing and new construction projects in 2018.

Traditional PV solar panels on a new asphalt shingle roof

What to Expect: In this guide we’ll covers the following roofing options: asphalt shingles, wood shingles and shakes, metal roofing, concrete, clay, and fiber-cement tiles, natural and faux slate, and the new Tesla solar tiles.

For each residential roof type we cover the following topics:

  • An overview including how the roofing is made
  • Pros and cons including maintenance, repair, durability, options, home styles they work with and more
  • Cost for materials and installation
  • Choosing your roofing material/The “bottom line” summaries of each type
  • How to save money on a new roof

Types of Roofing Materials

These most common options cover more than 95 percent of residential roofs in the United States, so unless you’ve got something unusual in mind like solar tiles – oh, wait, we’ve included those – or a vegetative green roof, the options you’re considering are likely discussed here.

Asphalt shingles

More than 70 percent of all single-family homes in the US are roofed with asphalt shingles, though that number is slowly shrinking thanks to more energy-efficient and durable metal roofing.

Asphalt (composition) shingles dominate the market because they are affordable, offer a variety of attractive options and do a good job protecting homes from the elements.

There are two types of asphalt shingles:

  • Fiberglass shingles start with a fiberglass mesh mat that is covered in asphalt and topped with granules that provide color and reflect some of the sunlight. Shingles made with fiberglass are lightweight and resist tearing.
  • Organic asphalt shingles begin with paper, often recycled, that is saturated in asphalt and covered with granules. The shingles are heavier and harder to work with than fiberglass, but they generally offer better stability in high winds.

    Although you can still see them on many roofs, organic shingles have been mostly phased out or discontinued over the course of last decade. Why? Manufactures have stopped making organic shingles due to their tendency to dry out, become less-waterproof and more prone to excess moisture absorption.

Pros and Cons of Asphalt Shingles

The reasons to choose asphalt shingles are:

  • Fiberglass shingles offer good fire protection
  • Look good on most any style home
  • Shingles are often the most affordable roofing option, especially in good/better ranges
  • The best asphalt shingles are a 30-year roof solution installed on homes located in moderate climates
  • The cheapest 3-tab shingles are an affordable way to dress up a home before putting on the market
  • Broad selection of colors and styles including affordable three-tab and architectural shingles that mimic shakes and slate
  • DIY asphalt shingle installation is possible for those with good skills, experience and equipment
  • No support beyond standard roof sheathing is required for shingles
  • 3-tab shingles are rated for 60-70 MPH wind uplift, while standard architectural shingles are rated for 110 MPH winds; high-wind shingles are rated for 130 MPH
  • High-impact shingles such as the ones manufactured by GAF should be used for heavily-wooded locations and areas where large hail is possible
  • Some shingle repairs are easy and cost-effective

A few words of caution about asphalt shingles:

  • The lifetime cost of shingles is higher than metal, tile or slate, because composition shingles must be replaced more frequently
  • Cheap asphalt shingles last as little as 10-12 years in hot, sunny climates
  • Rapid temperature changes can cause asphalt shingles to crack
  • A poorly vented attic will trap heat and significantly shorten asphalt shingle lifespan by cupping or cracking them
  • While the asphalt shingle industry boasts that its products can be recycled for paving, few recycling facilities take asphalt shingles, and they are among the least eco-friendly roofing options
  • After a second layer of shingles needs replacing, all layers must be torn off the roof, creating extra expense and a lot of potential landfill waste
  • Mold or algae can be a problem on shingles in shady areas, unless treated with anti-algae/anti-stain treatments
  • Organic/felt shingles are heavy; getting them to the roof in bundles can be a challenge
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Wood shingles and shakes

Wood delivers a natural dose of beauty to any roof. Cedar, redwood, cypress and pressure-treated pine shingles and shakes are available.

How are wood shingles and shakes different?

  • Wood shingles are machine-cut and feature cleaner edges and a smooth surface to produce a more uniform appearance.
  • Wood shakes are hand-cut from blocks of wood, so have a more rustic appearance. They’re thicker too, so slightly more expensive than wood shingles.

Pros and Cons of Wood Shingles and Shakes

The advantages of wood shingles and shakes are:

  • Wood has natural beauty that ranges from rustic shakes to handsome, neat shingles
  • Cedar and redwood contain oils that make them naturally resistant to moisture and insects
  • Treated wood shingles have a Class A fire rating
  • They can last 5 to 10 years longer than asphalt, which makes them competitively priced with asphalt over their lifespan
  • Wood has an insulation value twice that of asphalt shingles (but your home’s insulation levels are far more important than the R-value of the roofing)
  • Many shakes and shingles are made from salvaged trees – those that have fallen over from age or toppled by storm
  • Wood is recyclable into wood chips, mulch or compost
  • They enhance a range of architectural styles including Tudor, Victorian, Cape Cod, bungalow and cabin/cottage

Keep these disadvantages in mind when deciding on wood shingles and shakes:

  • Non-treated materials have a Class C fire rating, but wood can cedar shingles and shakes are also available as a more-costly treated option
  • Wood roofing is prohibited in some areas prone to wildfire, so be sure to check with your building department first
  • Untreated wood shakes and shingles are high maintenance – they need to be cleaned consistently to prevent the growth of algae or moss, and debris needs to be cleared to allow the wood to breathe
  • While DIY installation is possible if you have good experience, faults in the installation can lead to quick deterioration of the roof which often includes serious leaks
  • Staining of the shingles and shakes might occur as natural factors cause tannins to be released from the wood
  • While wood is quite durable, but repairs will be expensive if they are required

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Corrugated Metal Vs. Standing Seam – Myth Busters 2017-2018

Who Invented the Original, Corrugated Iron / Steel Roofing Style?

Henry Robinson Palmer learned his civil engineering under Scotsman Thomas Telford, the greatest builder of roads, canals and bridges in the British Empire in the early 19th century.

In 1821 Palmer applied for a patent for a single elevated rail supported by pillars spaced ten feet apart that sported wheeled carriages hanging down from either side that would roll along the rail when pulled by a horse. Henry Robinson Palmer had invented the world’s first monorail.

Standing Seam Vertical Panels

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If you research Palmer’s life today, every source details the creation of the monorail. For most thumbnail sketches of Palmer’s life that is the end of the story, but Palmer himself did not concern himself much with the monorail after building the first one in 1825, about one mile long, in Cheshunt, a town twelve miles from London.

Two years later the 32-year old Palmer landed a job as resident engineer for the London Dock Company. It was his responsibility to construct the walls along the Thames River to keep the world’s busiest port humming.

The aging wooden docks were in constant need of upgrade. To keep up Palmer patented a lightweight metal building panel that was self-supporting due to a series of waves or folds molded into the sheets.

Palmer’s manufacturing process consisted of pushing his sheet metal across fluted rollers to create the ridges that gave the metal strength. He called this “corrugation”, from the Latin word for “wrinkled.” It remains a common method for manufacturing corrugated metal today.

Palmer erected the world’s first corrugated building on the Thames River docks in 1829 and he continued to patent improvements in the construction of arches and roofs.

It is ironic that today Henry Robinson Palmer is remembered for the invention of the monorail, which is rarely encountered outside of amusement parks, airports and a classic Simpsons episode. He is scarcely recognized for the development of corrugation, which became so ubiquitous in the 19th century for cheap shelter that most people – and historians – assumed it had been with us since antiquity.

Historical Significance of Corrugation

corrugated metal roof

Without corrugated metal there would have been no rapid development of the United States frontier, a less frantic California gold rush, much slower settling of farm land on the Great Plains and much harsher living conditions on the battlefield.

The strength to materials imparted by corrugation extended beyond the metal sop to other industries; it was critical to the development of the cardboard, for instance.

Metal Roof Construction


By stiffening the metal sheets, corrugation permits a greater span across a lighter framework, ideal for the balloon construction techniques that became widespread in the 19th century.

But metal for roofing has been used for centuries, although it was rare in early America. Thomas Jefferson was a metal roof fanboy and installed tin-plate iron on the roof of his beloved Monticello in rural Virginia.

A metal roof could be fabricated with shingles or a “standing seam,” a technique which involved folding the edges upwards and laying the sheets over one another. Fasteners would hide under the upraised ridge where the sheets interlocked, producing clean, aesthetically pleasing lines.

monticello roof

Metal Shingles Vs. Standing Seam Vs. Corrugated Metal Sheets

Steel Shingles Roof

While metal shingles are also available today and can be produced to mimic any material, standing seam and corrugation remain the two most common types of metal roofs. Let’s have a look at them side by side as you consider your upcoming remodeling project.

elegant standing seam metal roof By Gast Architects

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The earliest metals used in roofing were lead and copper. Both could last for centuries, which is fortunate since those metals are prohibitively expensive. Today, lead is most often found in roofing as a coating for steel and copper is mostly reserved for flashing or architectural details.

Tin and its close cousin terne, a lead-tin mixture that appears lackluster (hence its French name which translates as dull), were the most common metal roofing materials of the 19th century and are important in authentic historical renovations.

Zinc had a brief run of popularity in the early 1800s as a roofing material, but it became most critical to metal roofing in 1837 when French metallurgists coated iron and steel with zinc to invent galvanization and (mostly) rust-proof metal.

In the 21st century, galvanized steel is the go-to metal roofing material. It is the least expensive roofing material and can be coated in many ways for appearance. Corrugated metal can be fabricated from a G-60 steel that is thinner grade and less expensive. Standard standing seam roofs can be made from G-90 grade steel, a higher-end Galvalume steel, or aluminum.

Galvanized steel is fabricated in a range from 9 gauge (0.1532 inches) to 32 gauge (0.0134 inches). Standing seam metal panels typically begin as rolls of 24-gauge steel (G-24) or the thicker 22-gauge (G-22) before ferrous metal coatings are hot-dipped. Corrugated steel paneling can be formed from G-26 or G-29 steel, which makes its cost less expensive; standing seam roofs will never use steel thinner than 26-gauge.


Even galvanized steel can corrode. Galvalume is a trademarked product from U.S. Steel that takes carbon steel and coats it with an aluminum-zinc alloy that performs like galvanized steel on steroids.

But even Galvalume will eventually lose the corrosion battle against the salt spray of ocean near the coastal regions. In such cases, aluminum is the metal of choice. Although more expensive than steel, initially, aluminum’s longer life expectancy helps level the eventual bottom lines.

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