What’s the Deal with Concrete Roofs

One of the biggest materials emerging in recent years for use inside and outside the home is concrete. No longer relegated to sidewalks and driveways, concrete is being transformed into a multi-functional material. It’s a sturdy, unique material that has limitless potential when it comes to our homes.

One major area of the home concrete is finding its place is on our roofs. Some are citing the heavy storms that have been hitting the country in the last decade as the major reason concrete has become a popular roofing material. Concrete is sturdy, waterproof, and heavy (which means the likelihood of your roof being ripped off in a tornado decreases).

There are many different ways that concrete roofs can be made and installed on your home. They can be prefabricated based on the measurements of your roof, or they can be stay-in-place insulating forms, which become part of your finished roof. No matter which route is chosen, when the concrete is poured it is reinforced with steel bars to create a skeleton for the concrete. Typically after the concrete is finished, it is then covered with whatever finish the owners desire with tiles of shingles.

Concrete roofs won’t work for all homes it should be noted. Needless to say, concrete is a very heavy material. In the ideal situation, the walls and floors of the home would also be made with concrete to provide the best support. However, interior support beams and strong exterior walls will also give support to the roof if your walls aren’t concrete. Wood-framed homes don’t make good candidates for concrete roofs since they cannot support the roof on their own and often many structural changes will have to be made to make the walls able to support the roof.

If your home can’t support a solid concrete roof, that doesn’t mean that you have to rule the material out entirely. Concrete tiles are another option that can replace more commonly used materials. These tiles often add a unique, European look to your home (they were heavily used during the late 1800′s in Germany). While they may be more expensive than your average tiles or shingles, they provide more protection from the elements and generally last longer. You are also given more options as to what you would like your tiles to look like since concrete is so easy to mold.

Concrete, while providing protection and stability, does come at a price. Due to the labor intensive nature of creating a concrete roof they tend to run about two to four times the cost of a more traditional wooden roof. However, concrete roofs last longer and cut down the risk of damage from fire, termites, fungi, and water damage.