Using foreign tile

It's not often you find a customer willing to pay top dollar for a roof system. It's even rarer to find a customer who asks for a roof similar to one he saw in Italy, Japan or France. But that's exactly what is happening to contractors who cater to customers with unique demands.

Increasingly, some contractors are finding customers who desire tile roof systems made with foreign tile (most imported tile comes from Western Europe, Japan and China). But procuring and installing foreign tile presents unique challenges. Professional Roofing talked to two contractors who install foreign tile and asked them about the challenges they face.

According to Frank Lawson Jr., president of The Lawson Roofing Co. Inc., San Francisco, owners often want a specific type of tile, perhaps to remind them of a certain place or vacation.

Dan Cornwell, president of CC & L Roofing Co., Portland, Ore., agrees: "Often, owners who have traveled abroad and admired the architecture they have seen during their travels will want to build or remodel a home or business to resemble a certain architectural style. Some common requests are for a Japanese garden environment, Italian villa, French country home or English cottage."