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When Davis County residents Dave and Cori Connors decided to have a home custom-built in Summerwood, one of the many choices they had to make was what type of roof to get.

Homes in the upscale neighborhood are required to have the appearance of a cedar shake roof, the same as on the Connors' former home in nearby Somerset Farm. But for their new home, the Connors chose concrete over wood.Forget any image of the thick slabs of concrete poured for driveways. The locally manufactured concrete tiles that cover the Connors' 6-bedroom home look no different than cedar shake shingles.

The concrete tile was chosen to help protect the foothills home from fire, Dave Connors said. Connors, a lawyer, and his wife, a country-music songwriter, have four children ranging in age from 9 to 14 years old.

"Our decision to go with the concrete roof was influenced by concern over fire," he said. "When you watch, over the past few years, news of fires in places like Oakland (Calif.), you start thinking about those things."

Not that appearance wasn't a factor. Connors said that unlike cedar shake shingles, the concrete tiles can be installed in a variety of wood tones and patterns for a unique look.

"There are lots of different styles, lots of different effects," he said. "We chose to stagger the tiles rather than lay them straight. That makes a difference in the look of the house."

Connors said such a "personal touch" wouldn't have been possible using cedar shake shingles. "A cedar shake shingle is a cedar shake shingle. You can't do a whole lot in terms of color or the type of installation."

Lewis Evans, president and co-owner of Bartile in Centerville, explains the advantages of using concrete tiles much the same way. Evans' father started manufacturing concrete tile in 1942.

Today the company, the only manufacturer of concrete tile in the state, makes more than 5 million concrete tiles annually. Evans estimates 25,000 homes in the intermountain region have Bartile roofs, including the Connors home.

In addition to wood shingles, concrete tiles can also duplicate the look of clay tile and slate. Company brochures show colors such as Madrid Clay European Tile, Winchester Brown Western Shake, and Colonial Gray New England Slate.

Besides being billed as the most fireproof roof available and the most attractive, Bartile products are also sold as being the most durable in any climate.

Because of the insulation ability of concrete tile, Evans sells many mission-style roofs for tract homes in Las Vegas, where Bartile has an office, and throughout the South-west.

In Utah, a special cold-weather installation of the product can help protect roofs from the damaging effects of ice. Roofing consultant Terry Anderson said concrete tile roofs have been in use for a century in Europe's snow country.

Anderson, whose consulting firm is based in Highland, said concrete tile is the most common type of roof in much of Europe. Concrete was first used for roof tile about 1860, he said, becoming popular about 60 years later.

He said he likes concrete tile for roofs because of its appearance and long life. Some of the concrete tile roofs in Europe date to the turn of the century.

There are tiles that are more than 40 years old at Bartile's showroom just off I-15, and all concrete tiles can be recycled if a home is damaged or renovated. Bartile products carry warranties of up to 75 years.

Asphalt shingles still are the most popular roofing product along the Wasatch Front. They are cheaper, but have the shortest life expectancy of roofing products, about 20-25 years.

Anderson estimated the cost of an asphalt roof at between 60 cents and $1.20 per square foot for materials and installation. A concrete tile roof can cost two to three times as much as an asphalt roof.

Not surprisingly, concrete tiles are also heavier. Concrete tile weighs about as much as three layers of shingles - the number of times an asphalt roof would need to be replaced to last as long as a concrete tile roof, Evans said.

Building codes generally require residential roofs to accommodate the weight of up to three asphalt shingles and so can also be covered with concrete tile, he said.

Bartile offers a number of specialty concrete tiles, including the Ultralite, which is about 1/3 lighter, and the Super Duty Tile, which is 10 percent heavier and 25 percent stronger.