Rebounding Residential Construction Offers Opportunities for Clay Roofing Tile
Demand for clay roofing tile is expected to rise 7.8% per year to 700,000 squares in 2020.
U.S. demand for residential roofing products is forecast to increase 4% per year to 147 million squares in 2020, valued at $10.4 billion, according to The Freedonia Group. Growth will be boosted by an increase in housing starts, which will benefit from homeowner interest in choosing products—such as laminated asphalt shingles, roofing tile and metal products—that offer enhanced aesthetics and long-term protection against leaks and impact damage.
The reroofing segment accounts for the vast majority of residential roofing demand. While weather-related activity plays a key role in generating replacement demand, the large stock of older homes in the U.S. is the main source of demand in this sector. A significant number of residences have roofs that are past their expected product lifespan. As a result, a large number of homes undergo roof repair or outright replacement every year. In addition, many homeowners put off reroofing projects during the 2007-2009 recession and its aftermath due to an unfavorable lending environment. Home renovations that were carried out tended to be those seen as providing a better return on investment. Through 2020, homeowners will respond to improved lending conditions and engage in previously delayed roofing projects.
Demand and Challenges
Demand for clay roofing tile is expected to rise 7.8% per year to 700,000 squares in 2020, valued at $145 million. Sharp increases in housing starts in the West—where clay tiles are most often installed—will spur growth. Clay tile, a traditional building material in the Mediterranean region, are widely used in such states as California and Arizona, where Spanish-style designs predominate. Many consumers opt for clay tile because of their perception as a durable and attractive roofing material.
Clay tile have a much smaller share of the U.S. roofing tile market compared to concrete tile for two reasons. First, clay tile are more expensive than concrete tile, limiting their use among value-conscious home builders and contractors. Second, while clay is a highly durable material, clay roofing tile can become fragile and prone to cracking due to freeze/thaw cycles. While this is not a problem in areas such as southern California, many parts of the U.S. have winters where temperatures regularly fall below the freezing point. Thus, consumers in those regions must opt for concrete tile or other steep-slope roofing products.
Product Development Efforts
Roofing tile are a highly mature product segment; clay tile have been used as roofing for thousands of years. Concrete roof tile, while a far more recent invention, are made in a manner similar to that of clay; raw materials are poured into a mold of the desired size and shape and kiln-fired until the material hardens. The simple designs of roofing tile and the few raw materials used in their manufacture mean that most development efforts in this segment are incremental in nature. These efforts include making tile:
- Lightweight to facilitate installation
- With interlocking designs to minimize uplift in case of storms
- With new designs that minimize the number of fasteners needed to properly attach a tile to a roof
- With shapes that enhance reflectivity to minimize solar heat transfer
- With lighter colors to qualify as cool roofing
For additional information, visit www.freedoniagroup.com.
Pros and Cons of Clay Roofing Tile
- Durable material that can last for centuries with little or no maintenance (given the right climate)
- Long-term color consistency
- Naturally light-colored clays deflect sunlight
- Nonporous surface inhibits growth of algae and mold
- Lighter weight compared to concrete tile can facilitate installation
- Can be susceptible to freeze/thaw cracking, limiting their use to areas with mild winters
- More expensive than concrete tile
- Lighter weight means some products do not meet code requirements for use in storm-prone areas
- More susceptible to breaking in the event of rough handling
- More complex installation than concrete tile