Clay tile is one of the most durable and environmentally sustainable roofing options available. You can see how durable and long-lasting clay tile roofs are by looking at the Coliseum in Rome; the original clay roofing tiles are still in place over 2,000 years after being installed. The main market for tile roofs in the US is in the west; mainly California, Arizona, and Texas where Italian and Spanish architecture is prevalent. Recently there has been an increasing demand for clay tile roofs in the Northeast.
When a clay roof is designed and installed properly, it is considered permanent and is expected to last 100 years or more. Other roofing products such as asphalt or wood have to be replaced up to five times as often as clay tile. Clay tile roofs have a higher initial cost, but when you average replacement costs over the lifetime of a roof, they are actually less expensive. They also offer a safety advantage because they are virtually fireproof.
Clay roofing tiles are also energy efficient. Having clay as the material on your roof creates a thermal barrier. It lowers temperatures on the roof and prevents heat transfer into the living areas of the house in the summer. It also keeps heat from escaping in the winter. Lighter colored clay tiles reflect the sun, which keeps heat from absorbing into the interior of the house in summer. As a result of this, energy costs are reduced for both cooling and heating.
Clay tiles are one of the most environmentally friendly roofing materials. Because clay is a naturally occurring material it does not deplete natural resources such as wood. There are no harmful chemicals or preservatives used in the manufacturing of clay tiles. It is also recyclable. Removed clay tiles can be salvaged and used on other roofs, or it can be crushed for other purposed such as sub-layers for roads.
Another advantage of clay tiles is appearance. They bring character and warmth to the appearance of a building and enhance curb appeal. There are a large variety of colors, glazes and finishes available. Two methods are used for achieving color on clay tiles. One is to mix the color in with the clay itself, which provides a slight variation in color from tile to tile. Another method is to apply a surface glaze, which will result in more uniform-looking color. There are also methods to artificially age the tiles so they can blend in to restoration projects or historic buildings.
Overall, clay tile is a good choice if you are considering environmental issues, energy costs, safety or appearance. It will not deplete natural resources or take up space in landfills. It is a natural product with lower costs when calculated over the lifetime of the roof.