Clay Roof Tiles vs. Shingles: What's the Difference?

If you are making a decision as to what type of roof you want on your home, are you willing to think outside of the box and consider clay roof tiles vs. shingles?

barrel vs tile roof

Most homes in the U.S. have a traditional asphalt shingle roof, but that isn’t your only or best option. Once you take everything into consideration: climate, temperature, sustainability, and aesthetics, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that clay roof tiles compare favorably with shingles.

Clay tiles and shingles are both an attractive and durable roofing solution that protects your home from elements such as:

  • Water damage
  • Mold
  • Mildew forming indoors

Clay tiles and shingles are each unique in their manufacture and material composition. Shingles are primarily made from asphalt (though there are metal, plastic and composite options), and are not considered sustainable. Clay tiles, however, are made from locally-sourced clay that is mixed with water and processed through multiple stages of heat application in a kiln — making clay tiles totally sustainable. Clay tiles and shingles each have their pros and cons that will be addressed in this article.

Different Types Of Shingle Roofing

Shingles come in many shapes and sizes and are normally installed in an overlapping fashion. Asphalt shingles are sold in warranty categories: 20-year, 25-year, and lifetime. The 20-year and 25-year shingles are non-laminated and usually installed on sheds or small home projects due to their limited warranty.

clay barrel vs tile roofing

Lifetime laminate shingles — also known as architectural shingles are found on many homes and are considered the standard shingle in the new construction industry for entry level roofing. They are designed to mimic the appearance of a wood shake roof and can be found in 50 or more color options.

The warranty for all lifetime warranty shingles is pro-rated and though advertised as lifetime, the top of the line lifetime shingles will carry a better warranty that offers full coverage for a longer initial period. The typical asphalt shingle roof has an average useful life of 15-25 years. The main advantages of asphalt shingles are:

  • Affordability
  • Availability
  • Ease of installation

Some disadvantages include:

  • Average lifetime use of 15-25 years
  • Not a good insulator
  • Damage easily in heavy hail storms
tile vs barrel roof

Shingles are also manufactured with metal, plastic and composite materials and made into designs that mimic turn of the century slate patterns, wood shake designs and other custom patterns that are not found in the asphalt line. Most of these upscale shingles will also carry a pro-rated lifetime warranty. These custom shingles are beautiful but they are:

  • Not readily available
  • Expensive
  • Not as easy to install

Cost To Install Asphalt Shingles — The average cost to install an asphalt shingle roof is between $3.40 and $4.47per square foot. This price may not reflect the average cost in your area and you should check out the website to get a figure good for your area. It also does not include the price of tearing off the old roof or the disposal of waste.

Advantages Of Clay Roof Tiles

Clay roof tiles have been around for hundreds of years and it is easy to understand why: they are beautiful and are made from readily available materials that are sustainable and eco-friendly. They are usually associated with Spanish architecture but can be found on many other styles of homes.

clay tiles vs shingles

They are pleasing to the eye and durable, they can require extensive upgrades to the structure of your roof and they are expensive to install and maintain.

What Makes Clay Roof Tiles So Appealing?

Durable and Beautiful

Clay roof tiles have been known to last over 100 years. They resist high winds, hail, and usually carry a Class A fire rating — which is the best rating available. They also keep their good looks for many years adding to your homes curb appeal and resale value.

Environmentally Friendly

Clay roof tiles are primarily composed of natural clay and water making them easy to recycle.

Energy Efficient

They are energy efficient — holding heat in themselves rather than transferring it to the attic below. Due to the shapes they are manufactured into, they allow good airflow which helps keep heat from building up on the roof, allowing it to dissipate into the atmosphere.

There Are Some Disadvantages


Clay roofing tiles are expensive and so is their installation. The average homeowner can expect to pay between $8 and $25 per square foot for materials and labor — which does not include any upgrades in structure that may be needed to properly support the extra weight.


Even though clay roofing tiles are very durable, having to perform maintenance on them can prove to be costly. They are brittle and must be walked on very carefully or you risk breaking them. This means that regular maintenance will probably need to be performed by a professional.

Best installed in the South

Clay tiles aren’t as durable in areas that get big freeze thaw cycles unless they meet the standards of ASTM C1167-11.

Better than Clay Tiles and Shingles — Brava Composite Barrel Roof Tiles

Why settle for one or the other when Brava synthetic barrel roof tiles will give you the benefits of both clay tiles and shingles without the disadvantages?

  • Easy installation that does not require a clay tile specialist
  • 50-year lifetime limited warranty
  • Class A fire rating
  • Low maintenance
  • Lightweight — no additional roof structure needed
  • Eco-friendly and sustainable composition
  • Available in unlimited color options
  • Class 4 impact rating — highest in the industry
  • Classic beauty of real clay tiles
  • Can be fully recycled
clay vs tile roof

Bravacomposite barrel roof tiles are made from 100% recycled materials and are manufactured to the highest industry specifications ensuring a long-lasting, beautiful roof that will protect your family and add increased value to your home for decades.

Contact us today for more information on our synthetic composite barrel roof tile as well as composite shake and composite slate roofing products.