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Unicrete Concrete Roof Tile - Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much does a Unicrete tile roof cost compared to asphalt, wood, or metal roofs?

A. The initial purchase cost of a Unicrete tile roof is much less than generally assumed. It comes in slightly higher than a designer type "50 year" asphalt shingle and costs considerably less than metal roof systems. It is also slightly less expensive than a good quality (100% edge grain) cedar shake or shingle roof. In addition to this, both asphalt shingles and cedar shakes have a 20 year service life expectation whereas concrete tile will last at least 3 times longer than this. This makes concrete roof tiles 1/3 the actual cost per year of other competing roof materials. Unicrete concrete roof tiles are actually the least expensive roof available when calculated as a roof life cycle cost per year.

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Q. How can I get a quote to have a tile roof installed on my home?

A. Contact us for a free estimate.

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Q. Aren't your concrete roof tiles to heavy for re-roofing residential home?

A. Unicrete makes a lightweight roof tile that has been specially designed for the re-roofing market. Roof materials that add less than 8 lbs. per sq. ft. to the roof are considered to be lightweight and generally require no structural upgrading for homes with engineered truss systems. However, all lightweight concrete roof tiles are not created equally. Manufacturers that come from southern climates that do not have to contend with Canadian winters often add "expanded aggregate" to their tiles to bring down the weight. This has a poor history in our climate and Unicrete refuses to use this additive.

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Q.Can I use your standard weight concrete roof tiles on my home?

A. If you are building a new home, the extra expense to design for the additional weight of concrete roof tiles (total of 12 lbs. per sq. ft.) is generally quite low - often only a few hundred dollars - as long as you address this before the trusses and other structural components have been designed. If you wish to re-roof with one of our standard weight tiles, an engineering review is required and often some truss or other structural upgrading will then need to be done. We can help you coordinate this.

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Q. How long can I expect a Unicrete concrete Roof to last?

A. Concrete roof tile has been around since the mid 1800's and has a historically established service life of around 80 years. We have been manufacturing concrete roof tile here at our Calgary Alberta manufacturing plant since 1978 and our first tiles are still looking great!

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Q. How long will my Unicrete tile roof keep its colour

A. Our concrete roof tiles are "through tile" coloured.  This means thet the pigment is mixed throughout the tile and the colour is therefore permanent.  As tile ages, they may be slight changes in the appearance.  The one exception to this permanent colour is a painted tile.  Once the paint has worn to the extent that a new colour is desired - usually 15 to 20 years - the roof may be repainted.

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Q. What concrete roof tile colours and shapes are available from Unicrete?

A. We have a very large colour range of naturally pigmented tiles: and virtually any colour of painted tile can be produced.  Our standard weight tiles (10 or 12 lbs. per sq. ft.) are available in a "Slate" and "Split Shake" flat tile, and the more traditional Spanish looking "Estate" tiles are available in both regular and lightweight (8 lbs. per sq. ft.).

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Q. What type of Warranty comes with a Unicrete tile roof?

A. Unicrete roof tiles come with a very solid 50 year non-pro-rated, fully transferrable, inflation indexed material warranty. This is a significant warranty compared to traditional roofing materials.

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Q. Are Unicrete roof tiles a "green" environmentally responsible choice?

A. Unicrete roof tile tops the list for being a sustainable, environmentally responsible roof covering saving our landfills from millions of tones of disposal waste. Demolition and Construction waste accounts for an estimated 22% of the total landfill disposal volume. Of course even when the tile does need replacing 80 years or more down the road, it is a highly desired recycled product composed of natural materials, with countless applications for its second life.

Unicrete roof tiles contain a post industrial waste product called Fly Ash which not only improves the quality of the tile and saves on land fill loading, but actually saves about 1/2 ton per typical roof in manufacturing carbon emissions. There are also great energy savings to be had with the Unicrete under-tile "Ener-vent" system.

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Q. Do Unicrete roof tiles increase insulation value or help reduce energy use?

A. In typical attic or cathedral vented roof systems (about 99.9% of Canadian residential roofs), all insulation should be on the ceiling level or "warm" side of your structure. You do not want to insulate your roof deck above the vented space, but rather maintain the same outside temperature on your roof deck to prevent ice damming in winter, and heat transfer into the vented attic space in the summer. Unicrete's "Ener-Vent" system is a very effective passive venting system. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory report for the U.S. Department of Energy concluded that "Field measures for the tile roofs revealed a 70% drop in the peak heat flow crossing the deck as compared to a direct-nailed asphalt shingle roof." This helps to reduce air-conditioning needs and greatly increases the homes comfort level in the summer. As well, it will reduce ice damming potential in the winter.  In addition this under-tile area can be utilized to increase the efficiency of intake air in HRV's in the winter, by supplying warmed solar charged air to the HRV system.

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Q. Are concrete and clay tile roofs the same thing?

A. While it is very difficult to see the difference between many clay and concrete tile roofs, they are completely different materials. Many people use the description "clay tile roof" generically to describe both. Clay generally costs more than a concrete tile roof.

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Q. How safe are Unicrete roof tiles in a fire situation?

A. Concrete roof tile has long demonstrated that its completely non-combustible nature is the very best protection you can give your family against potential fire situations which are typically spread from roof to roof in fire-prone wilderness and sub-division locations. There are countless stories of homes that survived a multi-home fire disaster because of non-combustible concrete roof tile and a good perimeter fire guard space.

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Q. How do Unicrete tile roofs hold up to high wind and to hail?

A. Concrete roof tile has an excellent reputation for both wind resistance and for hail resistance. This is why it is the roofing product of choice in both hurricane prone areas such as Florida and hail prone areas such as Denver. In the aftermath of the 2002 hail storm in Calgary's Oakridge community (a mixed roofing material area), the asphalt and cedar shake roofs suffered major damage and needed to be replaced (many chose our lightweight concrete re-roofing tile for their roof replacement). The existing Unicrete tile roofs had either no, or very minor damage reported and none of the Unicrete tile roofs needed to be replaced.

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Q. Are Unicrete tile roofs really NO maintenance roofs?

A. There is no such thing as a "NO" maintenance roof material. While Unicrete roof tiles would be considered to be the lowest maintenance roof product available, all roofs should be at least inspected periodically so that unseen conditions can be caught before they become damaging situations.

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Q. Can I walk on my Unicrete tile roof?

A. It is a myth that concrete roof tiles can not be walked on. Concrete continues to cure for many years and a tile roof that is more than a year old will be very walkable as long you are familiar with how to do so properly. Any roof is very dangerous and should never be accessed without a good reason, and all safety precautions regarding fall protection should be followed. In particular, never walk on any wet or slippery roof surface.

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Q. Can I have my older Unicrete tile roof painted?

A. Yes, there are specialized tile painting contractors that will do this work and we can supply you with the proper tile paint. Re-painting is common on painted tile roofs, but most homeowners that have a through-colored, non-painted tile roof and do not paint their roofs as it starts them on a maintenance painting schedule.

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Q. Are Unicrete tile roofs compatible with Passive and Photo Voltaic Solar Systems?

A. Concrete roof tiles are the most aesthetically pleasing roof material choice for those wishing to pursue integrated energy saving options such as solar voltaic panels (which integrate completely into the tile roof), or solar thermal systems which can either integrate into the roof tile or be contained in the under-tile rain screen area, and thereby be completely hidden.

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Q. I have heard that on roof tile installations there are two complete roofs?

A. Yes, there are two complete roof systems on all Canadian roof tile installations. The tile installation standards require that a complete double strapping system be installed over the under-tile water shedding membrane level, and then the tile is installed over this system. The minimum underlay material allowed is a 30lb. roof felt, and now most tile systems are upgraded to a polypropylene or peel and stick membrane system.

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Q. Can I install my own Unicrete tile roof?

A. Tile roofs are best installed by an experienced tile roofing contractor - a list of these can be found on our web site. A proper Unicrete tile installation can be done by a non-tile experienced roofer or even a dedicated and handy homeowner if they wish to take the time to thoroughly understand the installation instructions. While we can provide an instructional manual, technical bulletin, and an instructional video to help walk you through the installation process, nothing can replace real life tiling experience. To do a proper job on your first tile roof will require that you pay close attention to every detail and should only be attempted if you wish to learn how to tile and/or for the satisfaction of doing your own roof. You will not realize any cost savings as the installation on your first tile roof will take you much longer than an experienced tile contractor.

Q. Can concrete tile be installed in the winter?

A. Yes.  Many people believe that roofing is best done during the warmer months of the year.  While this is true for many other roofing types; as the products need to stay flexible and retaining the ability to properly seal down, concrete roof tile can be installed in any temperature range.   Unicrete has completed thousands of projects during the winter months since 1978. So don’t let winter deter you from getting your roof project completed.

 

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**For a more complete technical explanation of many tile related questions please see our Technical Bulletin section.