All for a roof over the head

All for a roof over the head


Hand over a pencil, paper and crayons to a child. Ask the child to draw a house. A yellow square with a red, triangular roof will unfailingly materialise.  A red roof. Fired roof tiles, one of mankind’s earliest ideas of shelter, make for quaint beauty. Believed to have been used even as early as the fourth millennium BC (Greece), they’re a rare sight in today’s cubicle, concrete building-infested cities. 

But, clay roof tiles, being natural, are environment-friendly, a much sought-after tag today. Few know that these tiles are unaffected by the challenges posed by the elements and are durable and cost-efficient. Besides, they possess one more quality – the ability to effortlessly blend into both heritage and modern structures. They can be incorporated into both kinds of architecture. Today, vestiges of clay tiles are found as embellishments on window-awnings in cities.

Available in a wide range of designs, colours and textures, they rest on many American roofs even today. The modern interlocking tiles have simplified the installation process. Glazed roof tiles specially designed to suit Indian tastes are now infiltrating the market.  

Today, roof tiles made of different hard materials like stone, metal, glass, ceramic and even plastic are used the world over. Modern technology has not only toughened them but also enhanced their appearance. So, roof tiles today are no more purely utilitarian in nature. They’re also decorative.  

They come in several shapes ranging from the simplest flat stone, wood, solar ones laid in conventional, overlapping rows to the interlocking Roman roof tiles that are flat in the middle, curving at one end to snuggle into the neighbouring tile. The S-shaped roof tiles, pantiles, are in fairly common use even today.

If durability is your uppermost concern, cement or concrete roof tiles score over the rest. Refusing to rot, curl, burn or rust, they boast of high solar reflection capacity and are easy to maintain.  

Concrete tiles are available in a variety of colours and designs. Today, they also simulate the clay-tile finish. The alleged weight-increase of cement tiles owing to water-absorption is only marginal. Being salt-safe and frost-free, they make for great survivors in coastal environs.

Cement tiles also come with special coatings to prevent the colour from fading.
The apparent colour-change results from grime-accumulation which can be easily cleaned off to restore the original look. Besides, these tiles also don’t encourage moss or algae build-up. Terracotta tiles are preferred for their natural beauty. A wide spectrum of colours (red/orange, blue, green, deep brown, etc) and finishes ranging from full-glazed, semi-glazed to unglazed constitute their USP. There are moss-resistant and heat-reflective tiles too.

Energy conservation

Metal roof tiles help conserve energy, reflecting much of the sunlight and heat back into the atmosphere, especially in warmer regions. Though they provide advantages like adequate protection from hail, wind and fire and insulation from noise, they’re slippery and prone to rusting.

Ceramic tiles, natural and durable, bolster the beauty of the structure. Available in fade-resistant colours, they adorn Italian and other European roofs to this day. Today, micro-concrete roofing (MCR) tiles are gaining currency in the country.

These cost-effective tiles can be used on steel and wood under-structure to create attractive roofs on residences, farmhouses, gazebos, dhabas, verandahs and pavilions. Used as cladding material, they combine the twin advantages of waterproofing and aesthetics.  They are being promoted as alternative roofing in rural areas, where thatch and fired clay tile roofs abound. 

Roof tiles of the future? Solar roof tiles, of course! Made of photovoltaic modules that can be integrated into any standard roofing system, they’re eco-friendly.
Drastically reducing your electricity bills, they more than make up for the substantial initial investment. But, they need to be professionally installed according to a complex electrical and plumbing system.

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