What are concrete roof tiles?
Concrete tiles are an alternative to terracotta tiles, and are similar in many respects to their terracotta counterparts. Made from a mixture of sand, cement and water, concrete tiles can either be painted or have colour mixed through before they are cast into their tile shape for a longer lasting finish.
Both terracotta and concrete roof tiles come in a variety of shapes (or profiles) which can be used to create visually appealing patterns, to help establish a housing 'style', and to assist in channeling rainwater off the roof.
Concrete tiles were originally created as a cheaper but equally attractive alternative to terracotta roofing tiles. Their ability to mimic the appearance of wooden shingles, slate, and stone also makes them cost effective alternatives to these materials too. More affordable, more durable, stronger, and requiring less maintenance than many other roofing materials, concrete tiles often have a number of advantages over the materials they imitate.
Properties of concrete tile roofs
Concrete is strong - and as such, concrete tile roofs are very durable, offering advantages in terms of strength over their terracotta counterparts. Concrete tiles can also be heavy however, meaning the load bearing capacity of the supporting walls and foundations may need to be greater for a concrete tile roof. Having said that, lightweight concrete tiles are also available, although they are often more expensive and less durable.
Climatic suitability and insulation
Because they're more dense than terracotta, concrete tiles have a greater thermal mass, and will therefore store more heat during the day, to be released during the evening. The suitability of concrete tiles in warmer, northern parts of Australia depends largely on how thick the tiles are and how well they're able to reflect heat from the sun.
Concrete tiles also offer excellent insulative properties, and do a good job of keeping heat and noise under control.
Concrete tiles are designed to mimic other roofing surfaces (including slate and even wood), and therefore offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of how they look. Different profiles and systems are available to suit a wide range of roof styles and pitches.
Where are concrete tile roofs found?
Like the terracotta tiles they're normally based on, concrete tile roofs are best suited to temperate climates. Houses in excessively wet, windy or snowy climates might not be ideally suited for tiles as moisture can be driven in between tiles and cause roof leaks.