Lightweight Concrete Roof Tile Offers Fire Safety, Beauty and Value

By George Grygar, TXI - Texas Industries, Inc.

In most years, dark clouds over Texas in the spring would signal the coming rain. This year, they’re more likely to be smoke from wildfires that have burned thousands of acres in the past month as much of the southwestern U.S. struggles with a severe drought.

Homeowners from Utah to Mississippi are learning what those in California are  all too familiar with – La Nina’s triple punch of high winds, dry air, and little to no rain creates a smoldering tinderbox. Many who live next to natural, undeveloped areas have watched their dream homes go up in smoke as grassfires tear through the parched landscape. In an effort to protect homes from wildfires, builders in fire prone areas are more frequently utilizing flame retardant materials during construction. One example is concrete roof tiles.

Concrete roof tiles were first introduced around the middle of the 19th century in Europe. They gained in popularity due to their durability, strength and the fact that they are non-combustible. Concrete does not burn when exposed to fire and it can withstand a variety of severe wind and weather conditions. Over the life of the structure, concrete roof tiles often prove to be less expensive than traditional composition (asphalt or fiberglass) roof tile material because they rarely need to be replaced. It is not uncommon for concrete roof tiles to last for the life of the structure it protects.

Standard concrete roof tile weighs around nine pounds per square foot. New homes and buildings designed to utilize concrete roof tiles normally have additional reinforcement built into their structural design. Retrofitting a building for standard weight concrete roof tiles normally requires a structural engineering report to determine if any additional bracing is needed to support the added weight. While the basic framing of the house will typically support the weight of a standard concrete tile roof, there are instances when retrofitting a building to accommodate standard weight concrete tile is not feasible.

TXI customer, MonierLifetile, a Boral Roofing Company, has been manufacturing  concrete roof tiles since 1962. Over the years, they had many requests for a lighter weight concrete roof tile. Recognizing that there was a hole in the market that needed to be filled MonierLifetile launched their 600 Series Line and became the first manufacturer to create a complete line of sub six pound per square foot concrete roof tile. One of MonierLifetile’s most popular lightweight concrete tile lines is Cedarlite, named so because it mimics the look of wood. Cedarlite is unique because it offers the look of wooden shingles without the fire hazard. Due to its sub six pound weight, Cedarlite does not require an engineer’s certification prior to installation, yet it still passes stringent tests for durability, strength, weather resistance and a Class A fire rating.

Concrete roof tiles can be manufactured to mimic the appearance of clay, slate, wood or stone. Surfaces can be designed smooth or textured. Colors can be in any pigment, solid, blended or random.

Whether using lightweight or normal weight, Class A fire rated concrete roof tile provides a strong barrier against nature’s elements and that is why more and more architects and homebuilders are choosing to invest in the lasting value of concrete roof tiles.