Tile Roof Conversions in Mission & its Neighbouring Areas

Important: At Roofing Mission & its Neighbouring areas (a.k.a “BulletpRoof Roof Systems”), during tile roof conversions we tear off the old roofing materials and replace any damaged roof decking before installing the new roofing material on top. Ensuring the longevity of your roof.

Tile roofing comes in concrete tiles, clay tiles and slate tiles, commonly used in homes in Tropical destinations like California, Florida, Caribbean Islands and Coastal towns, and homes built since the end of WW2 (from 1939 to 1945) during the war manufacturing boom caused concrete to become cheap. In the West Coast of Greater Vancouver many homes tried to adapt this tropical tile roofing to their homes and across the Lower Mainland too; More commonly, 90% have concrete tile and very rarely, a clay tile roof. Due to the air layer beneath them, this type of roofing is a great insulator, keeping the home’s temperatures moderate throughout the year.

Concrete tile roofing being a porous material with high water absorption makes it a bad fit for rainforest climates with heavy rainfall like in the Lower Mainland; Where roofing is required to have zero water absorption and the ability to withstand rainfall for years on end. Compared to asphalt shingles which have a 6-inch overlap, concrete tiles have a 1-inch overlap most often diverting water into any openings or protrusions like the attic, skylights, vents, chimneys, etc where water can pool. Normally, checking a home’s exposed eaves will show signs of water stains because the water has accumulated and has already started to rot the wood.

A misunderstanding about concrete tiles is that it does average a 50 year lifespan, but its underlayment only averages 15-20 years; The underlayment is the waterproofing foundation made of natural fibers, when installed without accounting for its shrinkage over the years, creating gaps. Even if installed correctly, it will eventually become brittle, dried out, or curled, all of which make it less effective at protecting against water damage; The underlayment is the weakest point. 

Table of Contents

What is a Tile Conversion?

If any of the following become visible, it’s certainly time to consider replacing your tile roofing:

  • Water stains, leaks or pooling; Normally visible at the installed tie-ins of internal gutters, drain seals, chimneys and air vents. Look for the water to divert away from these areas, if they pool instead then it’s a problem.
  • Becoming brittle and cracking due to it being an inflexible material; Due to high UV exposure for years (often sun fading the tile), regular expansion and contraction (due to the hold and cold) from weather or season change shows signs of brittleness under pressure, water and ice seeping inside and causing spider cracks to form, and/or constant battering from storm debris due to falling branches or rainfall causing erosion and wear down of the concrete tile. During maintenance, walking will cause it to crack without much pressure, tiles that break on their own from regular expansion and contraction were most likely green cured (manufactured and palletized before they can cure properly).
  • Moss, mildew, algae growth are potential signs of mold and rot; Indicating that the special sealant applied during the installation of the concrete tile to prevent water seepage into the tile has worn off. Without an annual pressure wash to remove this mildew and moss, this becomes evident much sooner.   

When it’s time to replace your tile roofing, there are two options – either a tile replacement or a tile conversion.

  1. A tile replacement involves tearing off the old tile roofing and underlayment, repairing the roof deck, battens and any openings, and installing new tile roofing on top. Depending on the new tile roofing to be installed, a structural engineer will be needed to approve the building and can support the weight of the new tile roofing. Otherwise, new building supports will need to be installed prior to any roof tile installation and once it’s installed, a special sealant needs to be applied to protect from water seepage. This can become an expensive or inexpensive solution, largely dependent on the tile roofing chosen.   
  2. A tile conversion involves taking the tile watershed system which diverts water off of the roof and converting it into an asphalt shingle, metal panel or rubber shingle membrane system where the water runs-off; Tearing off the old roofing tiles, underlayment and battens (including any bird shield edging) to expose the roof deck or any framing issues, repairing any water-related damage and then installing the new membrane system on top. Even with the extra installation, an asphalt shingle is comparatively more affordable and versatile than the other membrane systems.

When choosing either of these options, there are some areas to consider: 

  • Protection of property while working because a lack of roof deck to prevent debris from falling into the exposed attic
  • Longevity of a new roof, finding a balance between applying enough of the correct treatments to withstand the weather & fire and replacing enough of the roof’s structure for the roof to last
  • Aesthetics of selecting a new roofing material vs.the tile roofing warranty
  • Manufacturer support being available; Many manufacturers are no longer around anymore
  • Weather variability, in Vancouver, the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. Weather can be unpredictable and generally wetter than other areas, which promotes the growth of algae, rot and mold; Along with causing unexpected damage to occur over time.          

Depending on your research into these areas, it should make the decision a little more clear. If not, please reach out to Roofing in Mission & neighbouring areas, one of our “BulletpRoofers” would be happy to assist you.

Switching to Another Roofing Material: Pros and Cons

When deciding to switch, it’s worth considering what each roofing material can do for your home and not do as well; Whether it is an asphalt shingle, metal panel, slate, concrete or clay tile, rubber shingle, cedar shakes, etc.

Metal panels, rubber shingles and concrete or slate tiles are: 

  • Long-lasting, may last up 40-50 years, normally needs replacing in the 20-30 year range 
  • Fire, water, ice and wind-resistant, being non-combustible and difficult for winds/water to easily grip onto and for hail to easily penetrate
  • Little to no maintenance required to prevent age-related damage over time
  • Highly durable and able to take decent hits from debris without taking damage
  • Metal and rubber are often recyclable, while concrete is disposed of in the landfill  
  • All of the above, make them the more expensive option for installation which could include a structural engineer’s approval depending on the weight on the home and reinforcing the entire home (most cases for concrete or slate tiles); Offered in fewer design options that may replicate the cedar shakes you’re used to than asphalt shingles

Cedar shakes are:

  • Averages a 15-20 year lifespan
  • Being made from natural cedar, its an insulator (energy efficient) and is a renewable resource (eco-friendly)
  • Variety of sizes and thicknesses to give it a unique appearance
  • Limited fire, water and ice resistance; Treated to resist each and requires regular treatment, except it is still susceptible to fire and water seepage. Water seepage can turn into moss, rot, mold, algae growth, and any holes or openings caused by any damage can lead to rodent infestations. Reason being, cedar shakes are installed without a roof deck because it requires plenty of room for aeration, its split-sheathing has gaps for rodents to get through
  • Expensive due to old-growth cutting restrictions, and regular roof treatments and repair maintenance costs   

Composite or asphalt shingles are:

  • Decent lifespan, averaging 20 years; Towards the end of it’s life granule loss, buckling, cracking and sun-fading may become more evident
  • Wind, ice and fire resistant, it can handle a decent amount of weather-related damage. Largely dependent on the location of the home.
  • Versatile shingles, that come in a variety of designs, colours and specifications that would make it a suitable replacement for any other material above, and its specifications can make it durable to even storm damage.
  • Non-recyclable due to being made of fiberglass and requires landfill disposal
  • Affordable option compared to other materials, where it provides the flexibility for the homeowner to select an option that fits their quality to budget needs     

Tile Conversion Process

Cedar shake conversion is a more complex procedure than the re-roofing procedure, having a few additional steps to ensure proper installation and the longevity of the roof.

Before the work starts, all of the paperwork needs to be completed to protect both parties. This includes signing a contract, receiving the construction lien notices, finalizing the shingle selection for the homeowner’s home and setting up an estimated project start date.

Prior to the project starting, depending on the complexity of the roof, your roofing contractor may opt to have the materials “staged” and a mobile dump bin on your property a few days before the project starts. Ask for this date, if you’re unaware or if it is an inconvenience for whatever reason.

Project start to finish:

  1. Preparation Work – Before any tear off starts, we protect your home and make our work area safe for the team; by protecting your soon to be exposed attic space, protecting landscaping and plants, installing safety boards if the roof is steep, installing guard rails and scaffolding, moving yard furniture, protecting siding from scratches and damage, etc.
  2. Tools and Material Transport – Transport tools and prepare the new materials strategically.
  3. Tear Off Old Roof Tiles – Remove all of the old tile roofing, underlayment, battens and debris (any bird shielding), dispose of them in the dump bin; Removing any areas damaged by the batten removal and any areas with water damage too. 
  4. Inspect Roof Deck – Check the plywood deck is in good shape; replacing any plywood that has mold, is soft due to water damage, nailing in any loose plywood, etc. Ensuring that the roof deck is acceptable for nailing new shingles, while avoiding existing damage to the roof from worsening and unsightly bumps in the roof appearing weeks later (usually 1-2 weeks after work is done).
  5. Install Underlayment – Once the roof deck is in good shape, roof underlayment is installed with added water and ice shielding to roof valleys and penetrations to avoid excess moisture to run-off. Cover the roof with roofing felt, which acts as a barrier between the shingles and the roof deck so that the shingles don’t stick. Clean up any debris and material waste, dispose of in the dump bin.
  6. Install Roof Flashings and Shingles – Once the underlayment is ready, the starter shingles, regular shingles and at the end, ridge and hip cap shingles are installed. During this step, to prevent future water issues and air circulation issues, roof flashings and venting components are installed. This involves properly fitting and sealing any plumbing, air vents, valleys, adjacent walls, skylights, etc. Cleaning up any debris and materials and disposing of in the dump bin.
  7. Repeat Steps 3-6 for one section of the roof at a time. Allowing for the roof to remain fully protected from wetter weather from damaging the roof at any time.
  8. Final Clean Up – Dispose of any remaining roofing materials and use a magnetic roller to capture any remaining nails, staples or metal debris are completely removed. Leaving your home and roof cleaner than when we arrived.

Tile Conversion is Completed, What’s Next?

Your roofing contractor will remove any guard rails, safety boards, scaffolding, tools, materials, transport the dump bin away and provide a final inspection of the new roof. A last check for anything that was missed earlier during the cedar conversion.

At this point, the homeowner should check the new roof and confirm that it is to their satisfaction. It’s highly recommended, to discuss roof maintenance and warranties with the roof contractor to give you and your family some peace of mind that your new roof will last. 

 Anytime there are issues in the future, please feel free to contact the roofing contractor for further assistance.