With a 50-year life expectancy, concrete roof tiles compare favorably with wood, clay, and asphalt alternatives when a life-cycle cost analysis is made. These tiles, in colors ranging from rich earth tones to bright accent shades, come in varied styles and textures to simulate Spanish clay tiles, slate shingles, and cedar shakes. One manufacturer offers a choice of 400 colors. Barrel shaped and S-tile forms are among the most popular. Surfaces can be smooth or have a broomed texture. Almost all are manufactured with baffles or weather checks on the underside to protect against wind-driven moisture.

Securely installed on the roof, the concrete tiles can withstand near-hurricane-force winds. Although methods of installation vary according to roof pitches, unusual weather conditions, or local building codes, the tiles are relatively easy to install. Various decking materials such as plywood, solid sheathing boards, or spaced sheathing can be used, provided the decking is structurally adequate and nailed to support expected loads. Underlayments are recommended by most manufacturers to assure complete watertightness of the roof.

Once the sub-deck is prepared, the tiles many of which have an interlocking feature are nailed securely to batten strips. For added protection against hurricane-force winds, the tiles can also be set in mortar on solid plywood decking. The tiles should be aligned in straight rows, both vertically and horizontally, and then attached at all perimeters, including rakes, eaves, gable ends, and any other cantilevered roof segments. The perlite shakes are light enough to be installed over standard framing with added reinforcement. In many cases they can be applied directly over an existing roof.