The Classic Florida Red Roof: 3 Options for New Roof Installation

The Iconic Florida Red Roof: Three Different Options for Achieving this Classic Style at Your Price Point

When thinking about that iconic Florida mission-style red roof, you might assume that the only way to achieve this look is with clay terracotta roofing tiles. It’s a valid assumption. These roofs, dating back centuries, were traditionally made of clay. However, you might be surprised to know that many of the roofs you’re looking at aren’t made of clay at all. Clay, concrete, and metal are all used throughout Florida as ways to achieve that classic red roof style. Here are the pros, cons, and differences of each.

Clay Terracotta Red Roof Tiles $$$

Clay roof tiles are, of course, the original material of the signature style. Clay tiles are made by shaping wet clay into a half-barrel mold and then baking it until it hardens. The amount of time and amount of heat used in the drying process define the density and strength. Like anything, the quality of the clay tiles depends on their construction. However, when made well, these classic clay tiles can last between 75 and 150 years when properly treated and maintained.

Clay roof tiles are ideal in Florida for several reasons aside from their longevity, namely their ability to withstand the weather. They are strong, durable, and resilient against rains and winds. Terracotta is resistant to the damage often caused by salty air to other types of materials. This natural clay material is a great insulator against the hot sun, absorbing heat while keeping the home cool. On the flip side the trade-off for all of these positive benefits, and what gets people looking at other options, is the price tag.

Concrete Red Roof Tiles $$

Concrete is a very popular choice for roof tiles and can be made to mimic the look of different roofing materials from traditional shake shingles to clay barrels. Looking at a red roof made of concrete and one made of clay, you might not be able to tell the difference. This man-made material is also poured into molds and baked just like clay tiles. The result is a dense, durable, tile with a much lower price tag.

Concrete and clay are similar in many ways, but some key differences are important to note:

  • Lifespan: You can expect a concrete roof to last about 50 years. That’s nearly twice as long as a shingle roof, but still less than that of clay.
  • Weight: concrete is much heavier than clay – up to 40% heavier. If you’re replacing a roof, it’s essential to calculate whether your home is designed to handle the weight of concrete over other building materials.
  • Water and salt absorption: Concrete is more porous than clay. This is one of the reasons that concrete is heavier, but other factors come along with greater water absorption including the increased likelihood of mold growth. The more porous material also means more salt absorption which can cause premature degradation.
  • Color: Over time, concrete can fade, stain, and experience “efflorescence” (a white powdery residue caused by a chemical reaction within the cement). You’ll likely enjoy many years of beautiful red tiles with concrete tiles, however, clay tiles have a greater ability to hold color when comparing one to the other.

Metal Terracotta Style Roof $

Metal roofs are increasing in popularity for a variety of reasons. Namely, a metal roof is an affordable option for long-lasting durable protection. A metal roof can last between 40 and 70 years and is typically less expensive than a concrete or clay tile roof. While you’d likely be able to spot a roof made of metal vs. tile or concrete, metal roofs can still be made to mimic that iconic Spanish red roof style.

Metal is more water resistant than both clay and concrete, limiting many issues related to porosity. It’s highly durable and resistant to fire, winds, and impacts from debris and falling objects. Metal is a fantastic material for maintaining temperature and requires less maintenance than clay roofs. On the flip side, it can be noisy in the weather and, because of its sheen, it doesn’t have quite the same look as a clay or concrete roof although it can be designed quite well to mimic the look.

Each of these roofing styles is a great option and used throughout Florida. Much of your choice will depend on personal preference and budget, but the construction of your home itself will also lend greatly to the decision. At Infinity, our expert consultation spans both design and construction. Our expert architectural team works with you to drill down into real potential options and possibilities for your exact home. In addition to top-quality tier installation, expert consultation is a significant part of the value we provide as your roofing partner.

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