Metal vs. Tile Roofing: What's the Best Material?

A strong, durable, and energy-efficient roof will ensure your family's long-term comfort and safety against heavy rains, snow, flying debris, and the scorching heat of the Sun. It can also save you money through lower energy bills, maintenance, repair, and replacement costs. Furthermore, an aesthetically-pleasing roof will increase the resale value of your house, making it quicker to sell than a home with a dull-unimpressive roof.

Metal vs. Tile Roof

When comparing a metal roof to a tile roof, we found that both have several advantages, but also numerous disadvantages. Specifically, without proper installation and maintenance, impact damage and extreme weather conditions can significantly diminish a metal and tile roof's integrity. Fortunately, Brava synthetic shakes are a more durable, weather-resistant, and low-maintenance roofing material over metal and tile roofing.

How to Select the Right Material for Your Home

With so many roofing products available, how do you decide which is the best one for your home? First, make sure it falls within your budget and contains features compatible with your local climate (rain, snow, wind, ice, etc.) — specifically consider the roofing product's durability, energy-efficiency, aesthetics, and eco-friendliness.

  • A durable roof stands up against rain, ice, wind, fire, pests, and foot traffic without short- or long-term damage, limiting maintenance and repairs and ensuring the roof's longevity. Moreover, roofing shingles with extra protection against extreme weather events may lower your insurance rates.
  • Energy-efficient roofs, like ENERGY STAR certified roof products, lower energy use by reflecting the Sun’s rays, decreasing the heat transfer into a building — thereby reducing peak cooling demand by 10-15 percent. The energy savings with reflective roofing depends on the building design, climate, location, insulation, and total building envelope efficiency.
  • The roof can enhance your home's value if you choose high-quality shingles that match your home's architecture and that of the neighborhood.
  • Recyclable, eco-friendly roofing products can help to preserve natural resources and reduce landfill waste.

Two popular roofing products are metal roofing and tiles (clay, concrete, and slate). Roofing costs for both vary depending on the specific product, roof pitch, and installation. Installation costs for metal and concrete tile are similar, while you will pay more for installed slate and clay roofing.

Metal Roofing

metal vs tile roof

For many years, the high-resistance, impermeability, and longevity of metal roofing systems have made them a popular roofing choice. Metal roofing comes in various options, including traditional metal roof style and also metal roofing made to look like tiles, shingles, and shakes.

Manufacturers produce metal roofing in rigid sheets (typically made from zinc, copper, steel alloys, and expensive copper) with vertical-seam and modular press-formed panels, coated or painted with granules. The granules help mimic asphalt shingles and protect against scratching and denting from foot traffic, hail, and flying debris.

Before applying metal roofing to your home, please consider the pros and cons:

metal roof vs tile roof

Metal Pros

Longevity

A properly installed metal roof should last 40 to 70 years.

Durability

Metal roofs do not require costly maintenance.

Wind-Resistant

Some metal roofs resist severe winds up to 140 miles per hour (mph).

Moisture-Resistant

Properly installed metal roofing with its hard and slippery surfaces, resists rain and snow. Also, dark metal roofing warms quickly, encouraging snow melt.

Mold-Resistant

Naturally mildew-resistant, a metal roof prevents the growth of mold and algae.

Pest-Resistant

Metal roofs lack organic material, so they resist pests, like termites.

Fire-Resistant

Non-combustible, Class A fire-rated, metal roofs won't ignite and spark into flames when exposed to lighting or wildfire.

Energy-Efficient

Metal roofs reflect solar radiant heat, minimize midday heat gain, and reduce cooling costs by 10-25 percent.

Eco-Friendly

Metal roofs contain about 28 percent recycled content, and you can completely recycle the roof at the end of its lifespan.

Metal Cons

The integrity of costly metal roofing quickly declines if exposed to extreme temperatures, excessive impact, and harsh Sun and water exposure.

Expensive

Metal roof prices range from $5 to $14 per square foot (psf) depending on the metal material type; for instance, an aluminum roof costs $3.25 to $5.75 psf, while a copper roof costs $14 to $22 psf.

Thermal Contraction

Heat causes a metal roof to expand thermally, while cooling causes the roof to contract. The expansion and contraction can degrade the stack flashings around pipes, sealants, leading to roof leaks and premature roof failure.

Noisy

Metal roofs diminish in the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) because of the excessive noise created during heavy rain and hail storms.

Denting

Hail, debris, foot traffic, and flying objects can dent metal, particularly if made of copper and aluminum, both softer products than steel. Denting weakens the roofing and can lead to leaks.

Rusting

Rusting on a metal roof may occur due to ponding water or heat from direct sunlight wearing down the roof, leading to holes, scaling, and significant roof and building damage.

Ponding

To avoid ponding, only install metal roof shingles on roof slopes of 3:12 or greater, per the IRC Code.

Leakage & Water Damage

Improperly installed metal roofs, particularly those with exposed fasteners, may leak. For instance, screws attached through the flat surfaces (rather than the raised ridges) can allow rainwater to run off the roof and seep into the screw holes. Curb flashings not adequately set, can trap water behind the HVAC unit, eventually eroding the sealants, leading to leaks. Leaks can occur where two pieces of metal roofing overlap due to capillary draw. The capillary draw allows water to move uphill between two tightly fitted fragments of metal.

Tile Roofing

metal roof vs tile roof cost

Durable and beautiful tile roofs, most commonly made of slate, fired clay, and concrete, can last 100 years or more. Known as excellent water shedders, homeowners in regions that experience large amounts of rain in short periods, like the Southwest, California, and Florida, often use tile roofing. Unfortunately, expensive, fragile, and heavy tile roofing can challenge your budget.

Tile Pros

Long-lasting

Tile roofs can last over 100 years.

Durable and Wind-Resistant

Concrete, clay

, and slate tile roofing can all withstand winds of over 150 mph.

Waterproof

The low moisture absorption rate of slate and concrete makes them moisture and mold resistant.

Temperature-Resistant

Tile roofing stands up to freeze-thaw cycles without damage.

Pest-Resistant

Tile roofing lacks organic material, so it resists damage from insects.

Fire-Resistant

Clay, slate, and concrete tile roofing all provide fire resistance.

Energy-efficient

The high thermal mass of tiles helps regulate indoor temperatures and reduce energy use.

Variety

Roof tiles come in many colors, sizes, and shapes, suiting architectural styles, from New England Colonial, Historic, Contemporary, authentic Spanish, and Mediterranean. They create a timeless charm and elegance, adding character and value to any home.

Eco-friendly

Clay, slate, and concrete tile roofing allow for complete recycling at the end of their lifespan.

metal vs tile

Tile Cons

Unfortunately, the beauty and charm of tile roofing comes with several problems that may lessen its appeal:

Cost

Expensive tile roofing can cost, installed, between $12.50 and $25.00 psf for slate, $10.50 to $18.50 psf for clay, and $7.35 to $12.95 psf for concrete.

  • The high installation cost of tile roofing represents the expertise required for a roof's successful and long-term integrity.
  • The heavyweight of tile roofing requires proper structural reinforcement, adding cost to the project.

Mildew and Staining

Concrete and clay tiles will absorb water without suitable treatments, making them prone to mildew and staining. In addition, the added moisture adds weight to the already heavy tiles.

Impact Damage

Impact damage to roofing tiles occurs for several reasons: foot traffic, debris falling on a roof, or improper installation, like spacing the tiles in a way that restricts their capacity to expand. You must immediately repair or replace any compromised tiles to avoid underlayment, roofing, and structural damage.

Color Fading

Over time, painted concrete tile roof's color can fade, making the matching of replacement tiles problematic. The tile's porous nature makes it prone to staining, so therefore, you must repaint a concrete tile roof every few years to keep it looking new.

Underlayment Requirements

Roofing tiles can last a lifetime, however the underlayment only lasts about 20 years. The tedious job of replacing the underlayment costs between $750 to $1300, including labor, for a 1500 sq. ft. roof.

Slope Requirements

The minimum slope for a tile roof for clay and concrete roofing is 2 1/2:12 inches. Tile roofs with slopes between 2 ½:12 inches to 4:12 inches require a double layer of underlayments. Only install slate tiles on roof slopes of 4:12 or greater. Installing heavy tile roofing on low- or flat-slope roofs can create a massive center, piercing a hole through the roof and collapsing the structural reinforcements.

Brava Composite Roofing Shakes — a Superior Alternative to Metal and Tile Products

cost fo metal vs tile roof

The long-term success of tile and metal roofing depends on professional installation by an experienced roofer. Moreover, high-maintenance tile and metal roofing requires regular upkeep to repair or replace impact-damaged tiles. In addition, concrete tiles require regular cleaning to control damaging and unhealthy mildew and routine repainting. Thermal contraction also compromises metal roofing. Fortunately, lightweight Brava composite shakes do not require additional structural support, like tile roofing, saving time and money. The manufacturing of eco-friendly Brava composite tiles includes entirely recycled plastics and other sustainable products. Brava roof tiles also reflect solar heat, helping to save energy and lower cooling bills. Brava’s easy-to-install, low-maintenance product provides superior durability over metal and tile roofing.

Durable Brava Synthetic Roofing Shakes

Long-lasting Brava roofing tiles provide significant protection against freezing temperatures, fire, wind, and hail:

  • Class 4 impact rating with wind-resistance of 110 mph.
  • Class A and C fire ratings.
  • Maintains their integrity through freeze/thaw cycles, as well as extreme heat.
  • Do not absorb moisture, and therefore, resist unhealthy and damaging mold.

Brava Composite Tile Styles

At Brava, we have three unique-durable composite tile styles to fit any architectural design. Our tiles achieve, if not surpass, the beauty of Spanish clay tile, natural slate, and cedar shake roofing. Moreover, our revolutionary multi-coloring process helps create a product with authentic color variation and flow (in any custom color or combination) throughout the entire tile.

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