Recycled rubber tiles give high-end look

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Material is indestructible and maintenance-free


EuroSlate comes in two-by-three-foot sheets, which overlap and interlock

What’s hot for the home?

Trouble-free, maintenance-free roofing that has the high-end look of slate or hand-split cedar shakes. EuroSlate is available in seven colours, and EuroShake in four colours. The tiles are manufactured by G.E.M. Inc. right here in Calgary.

What is it?

The roof tiles are 90-per-cent recycled material — mostly discarded tires, which are so indestructible they’re a major disposal problem. (The province charges a disposal fee for tires because vulcanized rubber will not degrade or break down — it’s the metal and nylon parts of a tire that wear out.)

Who’s buying it?

Homeowners — including homeowners looking for an attractive replacement for their rotting shakes — along with a growing number of developers and builders. Word of mouth has been EuroSlate and EuroShake’s best advertising, says Sean Zimmer, vice-president of marketing at G.E.M. Inc. One new roof recently spurred 10 more orders from admiring neighbours.

Where can I use it?

Most roofs are suitable candidates. “You can’t use our product on a roof with a pitch lower than 2/12 — which is getting pretty close to a flat roof,” says Zimmer.

How much does it cost?

A EuroShake roof will cost about the same as a good quality cedar shake roof. Depending on colour, EuroSlate will be somewhere between the cost of cedar shakes and a concrete tile roof. If you haven’t priced these things lately, that’s usually $5.50 to $6.50 per square foot on a re-roof application.

Where can I buy it?

Order through G.E.M.’s showroom, or from the trained, certified applicators listed on And it’s okay to call G.E.M. for a list of nearby homes you can drive past to see how the product looks when installed.

How do I take care of it?

The tiles are completely maintenance-free, but it’s always good idea to keep an eye on your rooftop. Standard roof fixtures and fittings, such as the “boot” around the plumbing stack, won’t last nearly as long as your roof. “Our material? There’s nothing you need to do to it,” says Zimmer.

How durable is it?

So durable there’s a 50-year warranty on it. “Our product has been tested and certified by the CCMC (Canadian Construction Materials Centre). We’re the most tested roofing material in probably North America today,” Zimmer says.

In fact, rounds of extreme testing revealed almost no weathering at all.


The design of the tiles is a big advantage.

The two-by-three foot sheets are honeycombed underneath, and every sheet overlaps and interlocks with adjoining sheets. “Everywhere on the roof you’ve got two layers of rubber and two layers of air cells. Rubber and air are two of the best insulators in the world,” says Zimmer.

“It deadens a lot of the noise outside your home — like planes flying over” but more importantly it helps keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

If your home has cathedral ceilings, the extra insulation is a real bonus.

“You can walk on it.” With other types of roofing, warranties can be voided by getting up on the roof.

“If you want to get up there to put up Christmas lights or clean the gutters, you’re not doing any damage.”

Hail bounces off, so some insurance companies will give a discount for a rubber roof, Zimmer says.

And last but not least, for a middle-of-the-road price you get that fabulous high-end look.


Delivery times are now eight to 10 weeks for new orders — a surge of demand has temporarily outpaced production capacity.

However, over the winter months the warehouse will gradually fill again, so homeowners would be smart to order now for spring installation.

Another minor con:

The product will smell like new tires for a few days after it’s installed, but the odour quickly fades away.

© The Vancouver Sun 2005

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