Dec 07, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

Russell Roof Tiles debunks the common misconceptions of concrete for roofing applications

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Despite numerous benefits, there is often a misconception that roof tiles made from something other than a natural product are inferior. Mark Parsons, Technical Director at Russell Roof Tiles, explores why those responsible for social housing still sometimes believe this myth, especially when concrete could in fact be their number-one roofing solution.


Across the country, there are four main materials for pitched roof tiles – concrete, slate, clay and stone.

Despite the material first being used on roofs in the Roman times, concrete tiles are relative newcomers on the scene compared to clay or slate tiles. It is only in the past 50 years, or so, that concrete has become a standard material on roofs across the UK, and this popularity is growing year on year.

Now accounting for 60% of the housing market, more than 260 million concrete roof tiles were produced across the UK in 2017 alone. In contrast, natural slates only account for 20% of the total and clay tiles; around 10%. The remaining 10% is made up of various other materials.

Yet some local authority planners and housing associations still believe that concrete tiles are not a viable roofing solution.

The myth

While building materials are not often considered in the early stages of any project, local authority planners are highly influential in ensuring the right products are chosen, but they are also under increasing pressure to meet housing targets laid out by the Government while keeping costs under control.

Planning teams also look to regional trends in housing and the local materials commonly used across all buildings in that area. For example, in the Cotswolds and the Pennines, the local material is a heavy stone slate whilst in some regions, natural clay tiles are used because of the local deposits of clay.

Therefore, it is no surprise that many are still relying on clay or slate for their roofing requirements. Not only will the products meet local requirements, but many believe that these roof tiles are the most effective solution for projects. Some of these natural materials, however, have their own issues such as weight, availability, cost and sustainability. What many don’t realise is concrete provides a number of benefits, and the difference between concrete, clay and slate is not always as clear-cut as first thought.

Busting the myth

Concrete tiles provide a quick yet cost-effective solution when time is of the essence. At two thirds the thickness of a normal concrete tile, the product is easier to handle, has an easy interlocking design that can be fixed quickly and efficiently helps to speed up the installation process.

The tiles also provide a sustainable solution and are proven to last more than 60 years – a stark contrast to clay which can have a lifespan of around 30 years. At a time when the housing industry is at its worst the need to future-proof all housing stock has become more important than ever and therefore, so has the need for a longer-lasting material like concrete.

Reflecting regional trends

Much of the popularity of concrete is a result of its ability to replicate many indigenous regional materials. Concrete tiles are mainly produced in a variety of natural profiles and colours including clay, slate or stone.

Russell Roof Tiles has invested heavily in creating products which replicate natural materials for a visually pleasing and authentic look. This can help widen the choice and selection of concrete tiles which ensures it meets specific planning requirements without compromising on cost or sustainability.

Supplying a suitable specification

As manufacturers, we also work closely with local authority planners and housing associations to ensure that they have the best fixing specification and that all the necessary factors have been taken into consideration including regional trends. This allows us to offer the assurance of a guaranteed RussSpec – a 15-year guarantee incorporating Russell’s whole roof solutions.

As a result, planners and housing associations are then in a stronger position to ensure that each roof is sustainable and meeting local requirements from the start of any project.

Russell Roof Tiles is a leading independent roof tile manufacturer providing leading UK house-builders and high-profile social housing and commercial projects, where sustainability and eco-credentials are of the utmost priority.

RussSpec is Russell Roof Tiles’ 15-year guarantee when using Russell’s whole roof solutions, and where the roof has been installed in accordance with information provided (the substitution of Russell Roof Tiles’ components with other products at any stage of construction invalidates this guarantee).

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