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John Quigley is coordinating Hanson Roof Tile's expansion across the country.
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Pallets of concrete roof tile are stacked at Hanson's yard. Right: Concrete roof tile, such as these from Hanson Roof Tile's Sanderson, Fla., plant, are growing in popularity across the United States.

Attention to environmental details goes beyond product development. At both new and existing operations, Quigley focuses on best practices that include both energy savings and environmental stewardship. “We try to include the latest technologies, including the most efficient insulation and the most modern controlling equipment for curing temperature and humidity,” says Quigley. “We also recycle water and concrete waste.”

The process

Roof tile production is different from other concrete manufacturing. Sand, cement, and water are mixed in a continuous mixer. The cement-sand slurry is batched at a consistency that is near zero-slump. Perfecting the consistency allows fresh concrete to be moist enough to accept and imprint texture from the form on which it's placed, but firm enough to be self-standing.

The freshly mixed concrete is fed into the tile-making machine. The extruder head drops the fresh concrete onto aluminum molds (pallets) that travel on a conveyor. As the conveyor draws the form from the extruder head, a steel roller contours and smooths the fresh concrete's upper surfaces. The concrete is further compacted with the tile machine's troweling slipper, normally mounted just downstream from the roller.

The tile machine's guillotine then slices the soft tiles to the design length and punches nail openings, using a vertical action.

The freshly shaped tiles, still on their own individual pallets, are loaded onto racks and placed into curing chambers. Following hardening, the tiles are demolded and palletized standing on edge.

Like block plants, most roof tile plants run product through as batches based on color, shape, and surface texture. Some plants may have as many as 25 different styles in their portfolios.

Producers have a wide range of production methods from which to choose. Manufacturers offer manual machines that produce 10 tiles per hour. But most producers in the United States run production lines that average from 120 to 160 tiles per hour.

One of the greatest challenges is meeting customers' color expectations. European consumers prefer red, black, and brown. But as roof tile sales have expanded throughout the world, so have color and tone variations. Most tiles are integrally colored in the fresh mix using liquid and granular pigments. Several tile manufacturers now offer new top-facing techniques for a wide color spectrum.

One technique involves spraying acrylic paint on integrally-colored tiles. Another alternative is to apply a colored slurry to the extruded tile during the molding process before compaction and curing.

“We're very particular about the elements involved in our manufacturing practices,” says Quigley.

For more information, visit Hanson Roof tile atwww.hanson.biz/us/rooftile,and the Tile Roofing Institute atwww.tileroofing.org.

Capping off a Roof

Architects consider concrete roof tiles design features on their structures. To meet their demands, Hanson Roof Tile recently released a new product in Southern California and Arizona. Boosted caps are packaged without the roof tile pan, making it easier for installers to create the desired look. “Designs incorporating boosted tiles have become extremely popular in the West,” says Dylan Walters, Hanson's general manager in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

“Boosted tiles help to distinguish one building in a cluster of structures or to add depth and color to an individual home,” says Walters. “Boosting lends itself to Spanish- or Mediterranean-style architecture. Now, architects and builders have a cost-effective method of adding this unique architectural feature to any roof.”

Want to get in the Market?

Four major manufacturers of roof tile production equipment service North America: