Concrete and Clay Tile Roofing Industry Adopts Energy as a Purchase Driver

Tue, Jun 04, 2024 at 11:00AM

John Campbell, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Eagle Roofing Products

123With over three decades of experience in the tile roofing industry, I have watched concrete and clay roof tile manufacturers come and go. In retrospect, I have seen far more go or be absorbed by market-driven changes.

On the contrary, the overall metal roofing space has expanded its offerings through low entry barriers and various products, from chicken coop grade panels sold by box retailers to high-end beautiful copper standing seam panels typically marketed by quality-focused vendors. Due to this, the metal roof segment has had greater opportunities to position its products as market competitors against other roofing materials. While I do not personally consider metal roofs a direct competitor of concrete and clay tile roof systems because of their longer life cycle performance, I welcome it as a competitor.

The popularity of concrete and clay tile roofing was first realized in the 70s and 80s, largely due to fire concerns in the West. This gave birth to the National Tile Roofing Manufacturers Association (NTRMA), originally established in 1971, now the Tile Roofing Industry Alliance (TRIA), which worked closely with the Committee for Firesafe Dwellings to create legislation to ban combustible roofing materials in California. With the support of the Fire Marshal, the industry began to restrict the use of wood shakes around the state after learning of the lack of fire-resistance issues posed by the material.

Over the next decade, the concrete and clay tile industry grew tenfold throughout the United States as builders ceased installing flammable wood shake roofs and homeowners searched for safe and sustainable alternatives. During the surge of fire-driven demand, the ascent of Mediterranean architecture that was once limited to pockets throughout Florida and Southern California gained popularity across the Sunbelt and stimulated the demand for concrete and clay tile roofing.

During the 90s and early 2000s, flat concrete and clay tile roofs represented less than 25 percent of the industry’s shipments. Architectural trends shifted between 2010 and 2013 in search of new consumer appeal. A renowned leader in residential design declared, “Med is dead.” His not-so-thinly veiled reference to the death of Old-World design, known for its round windows, stucco facades and round “S” tile roofs, proved prophetic. New trends like modern, contemporary and farmhouse exteriors have become the norm over the last decade; in response, concrete and clay tile manufacturers have invested in new technology, molds and innovative products conducive to this dramatic market shift. Today, Eagle’s flat tile sales represent 61 percent of our total shipments nationwide. While Mediterranean architecture is far from departed, it is no longer a significant driver of our industry’s success.

The threat of fires, hail, wind and the prevalence of Mediterranean architecture coupled with unmatched permanence and superior curb appeal has driven demand for the concrete and clay tile industry for nearly 50 years.

So, What’s Next?

While we cannot predict the advent of another external demand driver, we can develop strategies to strengthen our market as an industry. Under the umbrella of the Tile Roofing Industry Alliance, major manufacturers of concrete and clay roofing tiles in the U.S. have commenced a long-term field study to validate the energy-saving attributes of tile systems compared to other products. The research project, titled Tile Roofing Energy Cost Savings (TRECS), includes the construction of 41 uniform roof stations placed in the ten code-defined climate zones across the country.

Using revolutionary sensors strategically placed in layers of the roofing assembly, we will gather real-time data every ten minutes over a three-year period. This will allow the industry to publish and post live temperature deltas for roof tiles, shingles and metal, which occur at the roof surface, as well as heat flux through the roof deck, the attic and inside the living space. Our benchmark will be temporary asphalt shingle roofs versus concrete and clay tile roofs in different installation configurations. In addition to measuring temperature deltas, we can convert the data into cumulative energy usage to maintain a constant temperature for both products. This will also validate roofing tiles’ ability to reduce energy through thermal mass and airspace, which will be a far greater benefit than the surface color of other materials. In regions with tiered electricity, it can help move the expensive peak demand times in hot regions and reduce heat loss in the winter months for colder climates. In the end, the TRECS study will justify and validate the long-term benefits of spending a little more upfront costs to save ongoing energy costs.

Together, we will create and market a new purchase driver to drive demand for concrete and clay tile roofing – energy savings.


124John Campbell is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Eagle Roofing Products. After a brief stint working for a small independent specialty roofing materials supplier, John spent approximately 16 years at Lifetile, Monier, then the combined entity MonierLifetile. In 2005, John started Roof Component Solutions (RCS), a specialty distributor of roof tile and roof tile components. In 2012, he joined the Burlingame family and Eagle Roofing Products as the National Sales and Marketing Director and later assumed the role of Vice President of Sales and Marketing as well as the General Manager for the Florida operation, Eagle Roofing Products Florida LLC.

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