Clay vs. Concrete Roof Tiles: Know the Differences and Make the Best Choice

Clay vs Concrete Roof Tiles
Clay vs. Concrete Roof Tiles: Know the Differences and Make the Best Choice

Tile roofs offer a glamorous appeal to those that love Southwest and Mediterranean architecture. Regardless of the materials that these tiles are made from, fired clay or concrete, there is more to them than meets the eye. Understanding the various pros and cons associated with the materials used to make these tiles can go a long way to helping you make the best decision when it comes to choosing between clay or concrete tiles.

Having narrowed your roofing options to two: clay roof tiles vs concrete roof tiles, you want to know if there is a significant difference between the two. Both offer a unique style, increase the value of your home and add instant curb appeal, but what are the specific advantages and disadvantages of each choice. What criteria should be used to make the final decision: cost, durability, or aesthetics?

Which is Better: Clay vs. Concrete Tiles? Clay Roofing Tiles

Which is Better: Clay vs. Concrete Tiles? Clay Roofing Tiles

Natural clay tiles have been around since the beginning of human history. Their use is believed to have started in China and the Middle East and quickly spread to Europe and beyond. Their popularity is due in part to the preponderance of natural clay in the ground. In modern production, the clay is mixed with particles of granite and then ground in a hopper to a fine consistency. Afterwards, water is added and the clay is formed into its final shape before being sent to the kilns to be fired and prepped for sale.

Cost Of Installing a Clay Tile Roof

A clay tile roof, on average, can cost between $10 to $18 per square foot. This works out to $1,000 to $1,800 per hundred square foot — or per square — the term by which roof jobs are usually figured. A 2500 square foot home with a 6/12 pitch roof would cost between $18,000 and $32,000. In addition, this may not account for additional framing needed to support a new roof.

Advantages of Clay Roofing Tiles

  • They are great insulators — they absorb heat but do not conduct it. It makes them a good choice for a roofing material as they will keep much of the heat from the Sun out of your house.
  • They are durable and can last up to 100 years.
  • They require less maintenance.
  • Fully recyclable. Clay can be crushed and turned back into tiles or used on roads or baseball fields.
  • They can be constructed in many shapes and colors offering a large selection to match most design styles such as rustic, log, Victorian and even colonial homes.
  • They are Class A fire-rated and will not burn.
Disadvantages of Clay Roofing Tiles

Disadvantages of Clay Roofing Tiles

  • They should not be installed on roofs with less than 4/12 pitch.
  • Clay roof tiles will require additional support for roof framing if your home was not built with the extra weight in mind.
  • They are more expensive than many other roofing materials.
  • Installation must be done by professionals with prior clay tile experience.
  • They can be susceptible to damage from high winds.
  • Clay tiles should not be walked on as a general rule since they are brittle.
  • Generally cannot be painted, so you are limited to natural clay colors.
Concrete Roofing Tiles

Concrete Roofing Tiles

Concrete roofing tiles are made from a mixture of water, sand, iron oxide, and cement and then molded into the desired shape, placed in an oven where the temperature and humidity are controlled and sprayed with a sealer that forces excess moisture out of the tile making them waterproof.

Cost Of Installing A Concrete Tile Roof

A concrete tile roof will cost $300-$500 per square installed, depending upon local material and labor prices. This may not include the labor and materials to upgrade your roof structure in order to support the extra weight of a concrete.

Advantages Of Concrete Roof Tiles

  • They can be molded to mimic wood or asphalt or slate shingles.
  • They can last up to 50 years.
  • Concrete roof tiles are fireproof
  • They can withstand winds up to 200 mph.
  • They are tested to ensure impact resistance.
  • Can be painted any color.
  • They handle heavy snow loads well.

Disadvantages Of Concrete Roof Tiles

  • Concrete is extremely heavy. The roof structure must be engineered to support 500-720 lbs per square. (On average, asphalt shingles weight 225-350 lbs per square.)
  • Color of the tile may fade if it is a surface paint. If the color is added to the concrete when it is being formed, this is not normally an issue. This can be a concern if repairs are needed later on, however, as it will be difficult to match the older tiles.
  • Concrete tiles can be susceptible to efflorescence if not sealed well. This gives the tile a chalky look but it can be cleaned off and prevented by sealing the tiles.
  • Concrete is very strong, but it can be brittle if walked on incorrectly during installation or repairs.
  • Installation requires specialists that have experience with clay or concrete roof tiles. There are specific requirements concerning the layout that must be followed for the best looking roof and to ensure that leaks are avoided.
An Alternative to Clay and Concrete: Brava Synthetic Spanish Barrel Roof Tiles

An Alternative to Clay and Concrete: Brava Synthetic Spanish Barrel Roof Tiles

When making a comparison between clay and concrete roof tiles you should consider an eco-friendly alternative that eliminates most of the disadvantages of both clay and concrete — synthetic barrel roof tiles. Synthetic or composite roof tiles are lightweight and easy to install, eliminating the risk of damage from being walked on during installation or while performing maintenance.

Brava’s composite Spanish Barrel Tile is made from 100% recycled material and when the roof is replaced, the old tiles can be recycled again for another useful life. Our tiles have Class 4 impact ratings as well as Class A and C fire ratings. Unlike clay, our barrel roof tiles can be manufactured in any color including custom mixes, allowing you to have the perfect color combination to accent your home.

Brava has been producing the highest quality synthetic/composite roofing tiles for decades and we can send samples right to your home for convenient viewing or direct you to a local showroom, if available. Our products have a 50-year limited warranty and we are available by phone or online to assist you in making the right decision for your next roofing project. Contact us today by phone at (844) 290-4196 or online.