Tile roofing comprises a small fraction of the U.S. roofing market. Depending on the data source, tile accounts for 8% to 12% of the national market, says Jeanne Sheehy, managing director for the Tile Roofing Institute.
Clay and concrete tile roofing are two different products, but have more similarities than differences, she says.
While concrete roofing tiles take more energy to produce than clay tiles, both products share some green traits. The tiles have a typical lifespan of 50 to 100 years; are made with natural resources; resist severe weather, such as hail and winds over 125 miles per hour; and qualify for LEED credits. And "waste from concrete and clay tile production can be immediately recycled back into the manufacturing process," according to the Tile Roofing Institute.
Highly Sustainable For example, US Tile received Cradle to Cradle Gold certification from the McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry consultancy for the sustainable life cycle of its products. The company harvests materials for its clay roofing tiles from off-casts of mining operations, and has recycling programs to ensure its fully recyclable products do not go to waste, says Rich Thomas, director of marketing for US Tile.
Steve Gardner, general manager at L.A. Roofing Materials, says his customers usually choose between clay and concrete tile roofing based on what look they want for their house. "Concrete is more porous, and the clay tile is usually vitrified, meaning it is fired to a glossy surface," he says.
However, clay tile does cost more than concrete tile. In emerging markets, such as in the northern United States, concrete tile can cost $75 to $85 per square, while clay costs around $100 per square, Sheehy says. In traditional markets, concrete tile runs about $50 to $60 per square, and clay is approximately more than $80 per square.
For Gardner's market in metropolitan Los Angeles, standard 30-year asphalt runs around $75 a square. Standard weight concrete tile costs about $80 per square, and lightweight tile sells for $125 to $140 a square. Clay tile runs between $140 and $160 a square. The current economy has driven people toward the cheapest roofing option, Gardner says, and 30-year, laminated asphalt shingles are what he's mostly been selling.
Sheehy contends that the long lifespan and energy efficiency of tile make it competitive with asphalt shingles.