Concrete tiles are a viable alternative to clay tiles – classic, contemporary, and even rustic styles are combined with durability and resistance to the elements.
via Boral America
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For many homeowners, the bottom line is cost, and while many sources seem to pull their concrete tile pricing numbers right out of thin air, this guide provides real figures based on extensive research.
You can expect to pay between $9.50 and $23.50 per sq. ft. to install a concrete tile roof on your home, depending on the specific tile profile, overall roof difficulty, accessibility, and complexity, and your home’s location. This gives you an average cost of $16.50 per sq. ft. installed.
Did you know? Larger roofs will typically have lower average cost per square foot than smaller ones, all else being equal. That said, the tile profile, quality, and thickness, installation difficulty, and your home’s location will impact costs.
The table below offers more detail on the low-end, mid-range, and high-end product pricing breakdown:
|Concrete Tile Roof Cost per Sq. Ft. Installed
|$9.50 to $11.50||$11.50 to $14.50||$14.50 to $23.50|
|*Add $1.00-$1.50/sq. ft. to remove and dispose of asphalt shingles
*Add $1.00-$2.00/sq. ft. to remove and dispose of old tile roofing
New Shingle Roof
New Metal Roof
New Flat Roof
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Total Cost of a Typical Project
A larger home and garage will need about 3,600 square feet of tiles. That accounts for the slope of the roof and for waste. In the industry, enough material to cover 100 square feet is known as a square.
Thus, a larger home with a garage — a type of house that is stylistically suitable for a tile roof would require roughly 36 squares of tile roofing material. Here are the low, average, and high total project costs to expect:
|Total Project Cost:|
Did you know?
Concrete roofing tiles are not a recent development. They’ve been used globally for centuries and were introduced in the US in the early 20th century. Their recent rise in popularity is due to many factors including their green building advantages and the increase in style and color options. Improvements in concrete blends make them lighter and more durable, too.
Your costs will be in the low, average, or high-end range of the table above based on these factors:
The quality of the material: Common concrete tile warranties are 40 years, 50 years, or lifetime.
The better the quality and warranty, the higher the cost. Most concrete tiles are backed by a lifetime warranty. In other words, most are premium/high-cost materials.
The style of the material: You have many style options. In general, the simpler design, the lower the cost.
For example, concrete tiles designed to mimic cedar shakes are the easiest to produce and include less material per square foot, so cost less than traditional Roman and Spanish styles.
Enhanced accessories: Ridge caps with higher profiles and more elaborate design, boosted tiles spaced throughout the roof field and similar aesthetic enhancements raise the cost.
Whether old roofing is removed: Unless the house is new construction, the old roof should be removed.
While it’s possible to install concrete tiles over asphalt shingles, that technique could reduce the lifespan of the tiles by 15% to 25%, and it makes for a very heavy roof.
Whether extra roofing support is needed: Asphalt shingles weigh 150-400 pounds per square. Tile weighs 575-1,100 pounds per square.
Most building codes require upgrading the roof frame strength before installing materials weighing more than 600 pounds per square.
Your contractor or structural engineer might determine that your roof’s trusses must be reinforced to safely handle the weight of the concrete tile roof.
Installation method: Installing the tiles directly to the roof deck costs less than installing battens first and fastening the tiles to the battens.
Climate factors: In wet and cold climates, additional materials are installed to protect the roof and home against moisture, ice dams and freeze/thaw cycles.
Roof complexity: Labor costs are lowest on a single-story, four-corner home with a 4/12 roof with gables and no extras like skylights to be worked around.
Installation cost rises with additional corners, a steeper slope, hips and dormers and other extras that increase labor time.
Installing a roof on a second story or above can cost significantly more due to the challenge of getting materials to the roof.
Location: As with most consumer prices, concrete tile roofing costs are higher on and near the East and West Coast. They’re lowest in small towns and rural areas of the South and Midwest. The rest of the country falls into the “average” range.
Pro Tip: Knowing how much roofing you need is the best way to get an accurate estimate of what your costs will be. Plus, knowledge is power. It will prevent you from being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous contractor attempting to pad the material and labor costs.
Here’s how to determine exactly how much roofing material you will need:
Step 1: Determine the square feet of the area covered directly by the roof. For example, a 2,000-square foot home has about 2,000 covered square feet (not including overhangs), if it is a single-story, but only 1,000 square feet if it is a saltbox two-story.
Dimensions for the house and garage can be found on the construction drawings. Be sure to add the length of any roof overhangs/eaves to the dimensions.
Multiply the length times the width of rectangular sections. If more than one section, such as an L-shaped home, figure the square feet of each section and add the sums together.
Step 2: Determine the pitch/slope of your roof. Again, the plans should have it. The pitch is the number of inches the roof rises for every 12” it runs toward the center of the peak or ridge.
Step 3: Use the multiplier from the table below for your roof pitch. Multiply the sum from Step 1 by the multiplier that corresponds with your roof pitch to determine how many square feet of roof surface you have.
For example, consider a 2,000-square foot ranch home with a 36×24 garage (864 sq. ft.). That’s a total of 2,864 square feet to be covered.
If the roof has a 10/12 pitch, then the equation is 2,864 x 1.3 = 3,723 x 1.05 = 3,909 square feet of roofing material. 39 squares of tiles should do the job.
Note: With a hip roof you will need to add another 10% to the total number of squares for materials to account for additional waste associated with hip roofs.
Pro Tip: Consider the Plus 1 Rule: Buy one extra square of roofing material, so that when tiles are damaged in the years ahead, you’ll have a stock of exact replacement tiles for the repair. So, in our example, 39 + 1 = 40 squares will cover the roof and common repairs in the next 40+ years.
Did you know?
In our research we found that many online sources reference costs that are unrealistically low, and hence misleading. Some estimates don’t factor in anything more than basic tile costs and average roofing installation costs.
However, a tile roof is a lot more difficult to install than asphalt and requires specialized and highly skilled labor. In other words, it’s a specialty job that must be carried out by an experienced and skilled craftsman.
Old roofing must be removed and disposed of, unless the home is new construction. The roof deck must be prepared for the installation of concrete roofing tiles. This includes, at minimum and only in dry regions of the country, 30# asphalt-saturated roofing paper.
Tile roofing in most regions requires a high-grade synthetic waterproof underlayment or hot-mopped material. An ice dam membrane near the eaves of the roof should be installed in climates with freezing winter temperatures.
Extensive flashing of the highest quality is installed at points where the tile meets other materials or objects such as a chimney, skylight or an upper-floor wall.
Many tile roof systems include wooden roof battens fastened to the roof for the tiles to be fixed to. Cap tiles are used to cover ridges and possibly rakes too, in some installations.
Pro Tip: Talk with several knowledgeable and experienced installers about the specific concrete tile product you’re considering and how it is best installed.
There are multiple concrete tile roof systems approved for each region of the country.
Getting the right combination of tile product and installation system for your climate is a science not all installers understand. Get it wrong, and the tile might not drain properly, leading to moisture issues in your roof and home.
Pros and Cons of Concrete Tiles
What we like:
Beauty and choice: Attractive styles including traditional Roman/Spanish tiles, cedar shakes and shingles, stone, and slate.
Surfaces can be smooth or textured. Edges can be uniform or jagged/offset like wood shakes. Each style is available in an appealing spectrum of colors.
Longevity: Durability of 40-70 years. Some in Europe are still in use after 100+ years.
Lifetime cost: Competitive lifetime costs. In the 40-70+ years that concrete lasts, the house next door might go through two to four asphalt shingle roofs with a total cost close to tile roofing cost.
Fire-resistant: Concrete roofing has the highest Class-A rating for resistance to wind-blown sparks and embers.
Weather-resistance: Good general weather protection including a very solid Class 3 or better hail rating and resistance to winds up to about 125 MPH.
Energy Efficiency: Most brands make tiles that have sufficient solar reflectivity to be certified by Energy Star and/or the Cool Roof Rating Council.
Green: Some concrete tiles use 50% or higher recycled materials. All tiles are recyclable.
Additionally, the materials used are natural, and tiles require less energy to produce compared with asphalt shingles. This benefit is multiplied due to the longevity of concrete tiles.
What gives us pause:
Initial cost: The upfront cost of concrete roof tiles is 3-4 times higher than asphalt shingles, 2-3 times higher than wood shingles and shakes and about twice as costly as metal.
Weight: Concrete, even the “lightweight” products, is heavy and difficult to work with.
Maintenance requirements: The tiles must be cleaned and sealed every 3-7 years as needed.
Because the water absorption rate of concrete tiles is 13% compared with 6% for clay tiles, it is imperative that you keep a good seal on the tiles to keep out that moisture. It will deteriorate the tiles and cause them to become significantly heavier than they already are.
Fading: The initial color of many tile products will fade slightly in the first decade.
Eagle Roofing Products explains that a layer of softer, pigment-rich concrete on the surface erodes away over about 10 years to expose a harder surface less prone to fading. This weathering is normal, though it will affect appearance.
Potential damage: While quite tough, the tiles can be cracked by heavy falling limbs and extreme hail.
Trapping heat and smoke: If fire starts within a home, a concrete roof is difficult to penetrate by firefighters making cuts to release heat, smoke, and toxic gases.
Costly repairs: Replacing damaged tiles is time-intensive, and therefore expensive. And, if you don’t buy an extra square of material, tiles are hard to match.
Pro Tip: Sealing the tiles every few years will slow the process of fading.
The tiles should be pressure washed at a PSI of 1,200 or less. The washer tip should be held 12-18 inches from the tiles, and the roof should be washed from the top down, taking care not to force water under the tiles.
A solution with an herbicide keeps algae and moss from forming but beware it could also damage the lawn and landscape below.
Because walking on a tile roof, especially a wet one, is dangerous, cleaning and sealing is best handled by an experienced tile roof contractor.
Top Concrete Tile Manufacturers and Products
Two large manufacturers of concrete tiles dominate the industry: Boral Roofing and Eagle Roofing Products.
Boral Roofing is an American company with 12 production facilities in the US and Canada. Boral is the country’s largest manufacturer of concrete roofing tiles.
Boral’s 40+ product lines, all available in multiple color choices, are grouped into several profiles:
- Slate styles in lines such as Saxony Country Slate in several variations and Hartford Shake.
- Lightweight concrete tiles in 10 series including Cedarlite 600, Espana 600, Saxony 600 Slate and Villa 600, all less than 600 pounds per square.
- Impact-resistant concrete roof tiles with Class 4 impact rating that withstand successive 2” ice balls at 70 MPH in series including Saxony Slate Impact and Barcelona Impact.
The company makes a complete line of roofing components for use with its tiles. These including flashing, valley guard, battens and extenders and hip/ridge caps.
Boral America offers a lifetime limited warranty on all products — see their FAQs for more details.
The warranty is non-prorated like asphalt shingle warranties, and it is transferable when the home is sold.
Boral’s products are sold through distributors that work with installers, not to the homeowners. This is true for most concrete tile and other high-end roof materials.
- Traditional barrel-style S-tiles with a profile called Capistrano available in 40+ solid and blended colors from traditional reds and terracotta golds to more contemporary hues.
- Low-barrel Malibu profile in 30+ classic and contemporary solid and blended options.
- Lightly textured wood shake/shingle profiles including Bel Air and Golden Eagle, each in many color options.
- Rustically textured wood-look roofing tiles in Ponderosa and Double Eagle profiles in 30+ colors.
- Slate-look tiles in two profiles, Textured Slate and Tapered Slate, both in an impressive 30+ color options.
- EagleLite tiles that weigh 720 pounds per square available in a rich and varied selection of regional colors.
- Energy Star and Cool Roof products that reduce heat penetration in summer and may qualify for energy efficiency tax credits and rebates where you live.
Eagle offers several upgrade options. Its Eagle Platinum Tile product is a long-lasting, deep penetrating sealer to improve resistance to heat transfer, both heat penetration in summer and heat loss in winter. The coating also slows the natural process of fading. Any Eagle Roofing concrete tiles can be coated with the Platinum sealer.
Boosted accessory pieces from Eagle Roofing provide visual interest. An accessory piece is mortared to the tile below to raise its profile significantly. Typically, 6-8 boosted tiles per roofing square are installed. They are often placed at the roof eaves and on caps. The result is a rustic, Old World appearance.
Eagle roofing tiles are also backed by a lifetime, non-prorated transferable warranty.
Vande Hey Raleigh is a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of tiles available in Modern Slate, Shake Tile, High Barrel, Riviera Tile and Cotswold Stone profiles. It also offers a lifetime warranty that is non pro-rated. Vande Hey Raleigh is quite small compared to Boral and Eagle but does ship nationwide.
Beyond these, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a concrete tile manufacturer offering products in your area.
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