Tile Roofs: Not Just for Warmer Climates
When most people think of tile, they picture timeless Mediterranean scenes of red clay tile-roofed neighborhoods. There's a reason for that: Other than minor weathering, tiles are impervious to sunlight and can last virtually forever. Asphalt shingles, by contrast, lose their granular covering over time, exposing the asphalt beneath to damage from the sun's ultraviolet rays and leading to eventual failure.
Tile roofs keep houses cooler and save energy, too. A recent study concluded that, because of their thermal mass and the air space formed between the tiles and the roof deck, tiles can reduce heat flow into an attic by up to 70 percent.
In alpine climates, snow and ice require that more attention be paid to roof ventilation and snow retention. Improved ventilation designs and special attachment devices are available to prevent the snow from sliding and to reduce the formation of "ice damming."
In hurricane-prone regions such as the Gulf Coast and parts of the Eastern seaboard, extra fasteners are used during the installation process to guard against high winds. Standard-weight tiles even endure hail well. However, if unusual weather does bring hail that breaks tiles, they can usually be replaced individually, without replacing the entire roof.
Regions that experience high levels of rainfall, such as the Pacific Northwest, require surface-mounted and step flashings to keep water and debris (such as leaves and pine needles) on top of the tile where it can drain away. Counter-batten systems are also used to help the roof breathe and drain better.
Roof tiles can be made to look like almost any conventional roof covering. Cedar shake look-alikes that appear to be brand-new or weathered (in a range of colors) are growing in popularity, and can complement such architectural styles as Victorian and Chalet. Likewise, a variety of slate imitations lend beauty and a compatible finishing touch to Tudor and English Cottage homes. For more information about advances in tile roofing, visit www.tileroofing.org.