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How Concrete Roofs Work


Concrete Roofing Tiles
Concrete tiles still cover the roofs of buildings in Rothenburg, Germany, a century after they were installed.
Concrete tiles still cover the roofs of buildings in Rothenburg, Germany, a century after they were installed.
Ellen Rooney/Axiom Photographic Agency/­Getty Images

­Just because it isn't feasible to cap your house with a massive concrete roof doesn't mean you can't apply a little stonelike resilience to your home. In lieu of asphalt shingles or clay roof tiles, some homeowners choose to install tiles made of concrete.

Concrete tiles were first introduced in the 1840s by German cement manufacturer Adolph Kroher, who developed a machine to press out the tiles. The technique became popular in Bavaria, and many of the roofing jobs from Kroher's era continue to hold up to this day.

While concrete tiles don't provide the solid stability of a concrete roof, they do afford protection against up to class 3 hail and wind speeds as strong as 125 miles per hour (201 kilometers per hour) [source: Portland Cement Association]. Unlike petroleum-based shingles, concrete tiles aren't flammable.

Concrete roofing tiles often cost more than some of the cheaper tiling and shingling options, but generally last longer. Modern concrete mixing methods also allow the tiles to be manufactured to fit various style and color requirements. Instead of looking like gritty gray slabs of cement, concrete tiles can even have the appearance of fine ceramics.

However, just because the tiles are made out of concrete doesn't mean they don't require regular upkeep and even replacement from time to time. Despite their durability, tiles can break and dislodge courtesy of earthquakes, sufficiently harsh weather and falling debris. Moss and algae can also develop over time and may require pressure washing or chemical treatment.

Explore the links on the next page to learn even more about concrete and home projects.


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