What About “Lifetime” Products Like Tile Roofs?

Many people think that a tile roof will last forever and therefore doesn’t need to be included in a reserve study. The truth is that the tiles themselves can last 50 years or even longer but it’s the other components of the roof that have a shorter useful life that will need to be replaced. Many clients indicate that their roof tiles have a lifetime warranty, but they don’t realize the warranty only covers the Tiles and not the other components. The tiles themselves are all you see when you look at a tile roof but there are other components of the roofing system such as underlayment, battens, and flashings. If only tile was used on a roof it would not be water tight at all. The tiles are used as a watershed and to protect the other components of the roof. They are also are decorative as many different styles and materials are available.
Underlayment is a felt that is the final layer of protection for the plywood or roof sheathing. Underlayment can last anywhere from 15-35 years depending on the quality and thickness of the product. The local climate is also a major factor, the useful life is typically less in a dry climate such as Las Vegas. The cost of replacing the underlayment under a tile roof is very expensive because all the tiles must be removed which requires a great deal of labor. In addition it is inevitable that there will be a percentage of the tiles that break during this process.
Once a tile roof reaches an age of 20-30 years it’s important to consult with a roofing company to get an evaluation of all the components of the roof to get an estimate remaining lives. Roofs are always a large percentage of an associations reserve liability and are typically around 20-40% of the annual depreciation.