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Category: Remodeling

Terracotta or fired clay tile has been used as a roofing material for thousands of years. Tiles were used in the Bronze Age in ancient Greece as early as 2500 B.C., in ancient Middle Eastern civilizations and in China in the Neolithic period approximately 10,000 years ago. Terracotta tile was commonly used as a roofing material by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

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Tiles have been used as roofing on buildings in Europe from Roman times to the present. In some European cities like London, fired clay tiles were required because of their fireproof qualities. Early use of clay roof tiles in the United States has been documented at Jamestown and the settlement of Roanoke Island in 1585. Terracotta tiles were used on Spanish missions throughout Florida and the western states. Terracotta tiles are associated with specific architectural styles like Spanish Mission and Italianate Villa, but complement almost any building style.

Benefits of Terracotta Roof Tiles

Terracotta clay roof tiles are attractive, impermeable and durable. Terracotta is a natural material, made from clay that is fired at a high temperature until it vitrifies or fuses. Vitrification creates a hard, waterproof surface that withstands rain, snow, cycles of freezing and thawing and wears well in coastal areas with salt air. They are fireproof, last up to 100 years or more and are almost maintenance-free. Because they are made from clay, terracotta tiles are easy to recycle and do not harm the environment.

Clay roof tiles are traditionally red, which is a moderately reflective color. Light-colored roofs, also called cool roofs, have higher reflectance and emissivity than dark-colored roofs. More than 90 percent of the roofs in the United States are of dark-colored materials which are low-reflectance and can reach temperatures of 150 to 190 degrees F. Cool roofs stay cooler, sometimes as much as 70 degrees cooler than a dark-colored roof, resulting in lower energy costs and more comfortable building interiors.

With the interest in saving energy and using more environmentally sustainable building techniques, manufacturers have developed fired clay tiles that achieve higher reflectivity and emissivity indices. These tiles, available in many colors including the traditional red-orange terracotta, achieve cool roof values. Several manufacturers produce clay tiles that meet Energy Star specifications.

Clay tiles are made in three grades according to American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) specifications. Grade 1 tiles withstand severe freeze-thaw conditions and are not porous. They can be used anywhere in the United States. Grade 2 tiles withstand moderate freeze-thaw cycles and are less water-resistant. Grade 3 tiles are more permeable and may flake in freeze-thaw cycles. Grade 3 tiles are recommended for areas with mild climates like Florida and southern California.

ASTM sets values for transverse breaking strength for tiles of different profiles or curvatures. These values correlate with the ability of a tile to withstand stresses including severe weather, hail and handling and installation.

Some manufacturers apply glaze to tiles which adds color and additional surface protection. Glazed tiles are often untreated on the underside which reduces weight, expense in manufacture and allows the tile to breathe and expel moisture from the untreated surface. Many manufacturers provide guarantees against color fading for a specified number of years.

Terracotta tiles are available in several shapes that give a unique look to the roof architecture. There are several interlocking systems that ensure that the tiles protect the roof and remain in place. Each system has a required amount of overlap that connects tiles on either side, above and below to prevent moisture from seeping between the tiles.

Mission clay tiles, also called Barrel tiles and S-curved tiles, have a highly rounded curve which gives the traditional look to Spanish style buildings. Flat clay tiles, also called English Shingle or Closed Shingle, are used on several styles of buildings. Flat pan tiles with curved cover tiles were used on classic Doric order buildings like those in the Acropolis at Athens.

Disadvantages of Terracotta Roof Tiles

Installation of clay tiles requires experienced, trained contractors. Clay tiles are more difficult to install than other types of roof materials and must be properly installed to withstand rain, severe weather and cycles of freezing and thawing. Manufacturers recommend horizontal and vertical overlap values to ensure that water does not penetrate between the tiles. Tiles must be properly anchored to flashings and eaves to protect underlying roof material.

If clay roof tiles leak, the underlying roof structure can be damaged. Leaks can travel beyond the source of the breakage or gap, so when replacing tiles or repairing leaks it is important to examine adjacent areas.

Terracotta tiles are breakable. Once installed, tiles should be walked on with care. If roof access is required, tiles should be removed or boards placed across a span of tiles to distribute weight. The most common reason for breakage is from falling tree limbs.

Clay tile is not recommended for low-pitch roofs. Clay roof tiles can be heavy, so must have good roof and wall support. Some manufacturers offer light-weight clay tiles that weigh less than 600 pounds per square in compliance with many building code requirements for reroofing.

Costs can increase depending on the distance tiles are shipped from the manufacturing source to the consumer.

Since a roof serves to keep out the elements and protect the house below, the choice of roofing materials varies heavily from region to region across North America. In the Pacific Northwest, homeowners need to deal with heavy rainfall and very high humidity levels, so every roof needs to be water-resistant. Choosing the right materials is extremely important because water damage can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. Conversely, a roof that drains well and resists water damage can stay in place for a long time before needing replacement.

Probably the most common roofing material used in the Pacific Northwest today is asphalt. Custom-designed asphalt shingles can closely imitate the appearance of wood, ceramic, slate or metal shingles at a significantly lower cost, and the material is naturally durable and resistant to water and heat. Still, because asphalt is a porous material, these shingles are somewhat susceptible to mold or algae growth and require a degree of maintenance. Furthermore, many home buyers prefer the natural appearance of wooden shingles, so opting for asphalt can reduce the sale value of the home. Generally speaking, an asphalt roof will last about 20 to 30 years.

Thanks to their widespread availability in the region and relatively low cost, cedar and redwood are two of the most popular roofing materials among Northwestern homeowners. Both of these woods are generally considered to be fairly attractive and, if properly maintained, can last up to 50 years before needing replacement. Furthermore, redwood or cedar shingles tend to add to the value of the house. However, a roof made from cedar or redwood is inherently vulnerable to rot, algae or moss. Water-resistant treatment can reduce these risks, but homeowners who opt for one of these materials should still expect to pay for frequent maintenance. Thus, the benefits of a classic, natural-looking roof must be weighed against the cost and effort required to keep the roof maintained.

Metal shingles, most commonly steel, offer excellent water resistance and typically require less maintenance than other roofing materials, making them ideal for hands-off Northwestern homeowners. Most metal roofing products come in a “standing seam” style that consists of a series of interlocking panels. Like asphalt shingles, metal shingles can be custom-designed to mimic other materials such as cedar, redwood or slate. They tend to be more expensive than asphalt, but can last up to 50 years if properly installed and maintained.

Many recently constructed homes in the Pacific Northwest use roofing tiles made from clay or concrete. Vitrified clay tiles, which are almost glass-like thanks to a special hardening process, are available in a variety of colors and styles. Because they are almost impervious to water damage, clay tiles can last 100 years or more before needing replacement, but they are heavy and quite expensive. Concrete tiles are cheaper than clay, but retain the same weight disadvantage and do not last quite as long. Despite their disadvantages, tile products have become increasingly popular in the rainy Northwest over the last quarter-century.

Clay Roofing Tiles

Regardless of material, every home in the Pacific Northwest needs a roof designed to deal with the heavy rain. As a rule, flat sections of roofing are not desirable because they allow water to pool and cause mold, mildew or other damage. Most homes use V-shaped gable roofing or four-sided hipped roofing to allow water to run off easily.

Whether they opt for asphalt, wood, metal, tile or another roofing material, homeowners in the Pacific Northwest need to be conscious of the weather in their region and the hazard posed by the heavy rainfall. Every roof needs to be designed with water resistance in mind and frequently inspected and cleaned to prevent water damage. Each material comes with advantages and disadvantages in terms of weight, cost, durability and maintenance. By taking all of these factors into account, Northwestern homeowners can select the right roofing materials to meet their homes’ individual needs.

Even before the economy took a nosedive, homeowners were looking for ways to save money. Home improvements can improve your property’s value while increasing energy efficiency. If you’re looking to replace some or all of your home’s windows, here’s what you can expect to pay. We have laid out the average cost of new home replacement windows.

New Home Windows
Best Case Scenario
You will save a lot of money if your existing window frames are in good condition. If the frames are free of major defects, you can replace just the windows and save up to half of the cost of replacement windows.

Only a certified contractor or other window installer should remove the old window and inspect the frame for any damage. That same contractor will be able to repair a salvageable frame or remove a damaged one, but any additional work will end up costing you money. Most contractors work for about $100 an hour, and frame replacement can easily add another $200 to your total bill.
After you have the measurements, you have enough information to order the replacement windows. The window size is fixed unless you want to enlarge the opening. For load bearing walls, that process is both time consuming and expensive, and you should expect additional labor to cost another $200-$300.

Average Window Materials and Prices
The windows themselves come in a variety of materials. Vinyl is relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain, but it usually doesn’t come in too many colors. Unfortunately, most paints will quickly fade and crack on vinyl after a few years. However, paint manufacturers like Benjamin Moore have begun selling paint specifically designed for vinyl surfaces.
Energy Efficient Vinyl Windows Being Installed
Other common materials include wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. Wood is an excellent insulator but is expensive compared to vinyl. It also holds up poorly in humid regions and can rot over time especially if rainwater is allowed to accumulate.

Aluminum is a lightweight metal that won’t corrode like iron. Many homeowners go with aluminum clad windows that encase the exterior surface in aluminum but leave the interior window wood for a beautiful appearance. Aluminum clad windows cost more but offer excellent weather resistance and insulation.

Fiberglass is a relatively new window material, and it offers a number of advantages over vinyl, wood, and aluminum. Like aluminum, it won’t corrode, rust, or rot. It can hold paint well, and it will insulate better than the other materials. Fiberglass contracts and expands with the temperature at roughly the same rate as glass, so it won’t leak as much air during the winter and summer months. By filling frame cavities with foam insulation, fiberglass windows offer the best insulation out of any type of window.

An average standard home window can cost as little as $300 for vinyl but 2-3 times as much for fiberglass. Wood and aluminum clad windows typically cost about $500-$700, and they offer a good compromise between cost and energy efficiency.

Triple-pane windows will also drive the cost up over double-pane windows, but they offer superior insulation. Insulating gas between the panes will also increase the overall cost but help save money on heating and cooling bills. Have a damaged frame? A new one will increase the cost by 50-100 percent including the additional labor required to tear out the old frame and install the new one.

Bottom Line
At a minimum, expect to pay on average at least $300 for materials and $100 for labor per window. If your home has 10 windows and you’re replacing all of them, the job will cost at least $4,000.

Once you add in extras like triple-pane windows or fiberglass frames, the material costs can increase up to about $1,000 for a standard window. That same 10 window home will cost about $11,000 instead.

Every frame that needs to be replaced will cost another $200-$700. With all of the bells and whistles for each window, you’re looking at anywhere from $1,000-$1,500 per window. Larger windows and additional work can add several thousand dollars more to the eventual cost.