If you’re installing or replacing roof tiles then you already know that there are a number of different options to choose from. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular choices, clay tiles and concrete tiles. There are several similarities between these two tile types but also some very important differences.
IN A NUTSHELL
Clay roofing tiles deliver classic good looks at premium cost. Concrete tile offers lower cost but less longevity. For both types, you have an impressive range of color and style options.
In the rest of this report we will continue to look at the similarities and differences be clay and concrete roof tiles and also consider the pros and cons of these tiles compared to other roofing options.
CONCRETE AND CLAY TILE OPTIONS
Clay roof tiles have a track record dating back centuries. They combine good protection and distinctive aesthetics. Concrete tiles were developed more recently as a low-cost alternative to clay.
Styles/Profiles: Tiles come in flat, medium and high-barrel profiles. This includes traditional Mediterranean and Spanish barrel clay roof tiles with moderate-to-high profile. Additional profiles include tapered and Roman pan tile, shake/shingle styles, Japanese/Oriental tiles, domed tiles and straight-barrel mission tiles. In short, there are many more style options than were available in the past.
Colors: More than 40 standard tiles are offered by the major manufacturers. Some will create custom colors to match/contrast the siding of your home.
Materials: Standard clay tiles are made with pulverized clay and tile. That’s it. Lightweight clay tiles are thinner and designed for re-roofing and for roofs without the structural support for standard tile. In concrete, your options are similar, standard concrete or a lightweight mix.
Weight: Standard clay tiles range from 900 to 1,400 pounds per roofing square, or 9 to 14 pounds per square foot. Concrete is 800 to 1,200 pounds per square. For many installations, the roof will require structural reinforcement to handle the weight load if the roof wasn’t constructed with tile-rated trusses.
Lightweight clay tiles weigh 550 to 700 pounds per square. Lightweight concrete tiles are less than 600 pounds per square. Neither require the roof to be reinforced.
Installation: Any existing roofing material is removed. Waterproofing underlayment and moisture barrier are installed to protect the roof deck. Then, a series of wood or metal battens are attached to the roof in horizontal and/or vertical lines. The tiles are attached to the battens. The advantages include better drainage of water that gets beneath the tiles and airflow which dries and cools the roof deck.
PROS & CONS OF CLAY AND CONCRETE ROOF TILES
The advantages of concrete and clay roofing tiles vs. other roofing materials are:
Design: The selection of profiles, colors and accessories pieces is very good. A concrete or clay tile roof will add value to your home, especially in neighborhoods where upscale roofing is expected.
Excellent durability: Concrete tile lifespan is 40-75 years. Clay tiles are expected to last 50-100 years, and many remain in good condition well into their second century.
Warranties: Tile manufacturers offer warranties of up to 75 years for their products.
Resistance to weather and other threats: Tile roofs withstand rain very well. They’re rated for winds up to about 150mph, so meet Miami-Dade and other hurricane zone requirements. Clay and concrete are not at risk from fire or insects. Most concrete and clay tile pass ANSI 4473 hail tests for hailstones up to 2 inches in diameter.
Decent value: While the upfront cost is high, the roof won’t need replacing for many years. It will last 4-8 times longer than asphalt shingles, 2-4 times as long as wood shingles and shakes and longer than steel roofing.
Energy and cost savings: The roofing is reflective and allows cooling airflow. As a result, many tile roofs meet Energy Star, Cool Roof Rating Council and CA Title 24 requirements. They reduce air conditioning costs compared with asphalt roofing
Green materials: Both clay and concrete are abundantly available materials. They’re not made with harmful chemical additives. The tiles can be recycled. Concrete has a low embodied-energy rating. Clay’s is moderate.
Low maintenance requirements for clay: Power washing clay tile roofs as needed and occasionally replacing damaged tiles is all the maintenance required for properly glazed tiles.
There are a few disadvantages of concrete and clay tiles:
High initial cost: Price details are found below. Installed costs range from about $6.25 per square foot on the low end for concrete and up to $24 per square foot on the upper end for clay, and sometimes higher.
High weight: Standard clay and concrete are very heavy. This raises shipping and installation cost. When the roof must be reinforced, expect a total cost of $2,500 to $10,000 for just the structural modifications.
High moisture absorption rate of concrete: Concrete absorbs moisture more readily than clay. This means it must be sealed every few years at $1.25-$2.00 per square foot. If the seal is not maintained, the tiles will deteriorate.
Low walkability: A clay roof should not be walked on. This can make repairs difficult and costly. Inspections should take place from the ground, ladders or scaffolding.
Installation issues: Proper installation is challenging and requires an experienced crew. When a tile roof is installed incorrectly, a long list of issues are possible including water leaks, loose and broken tiles.
Summary of roofing tile pros and cons:
TILE ROOFING COST
CONCRETE ROOF TILE
CLAY ROOF TILE
|$6.25-$8.00||$8.00-$10.50||Affordable tile, easy roof|
|$8.00-10.00||$10.50-$14.75||Most tile, roof with moderate complexity|
|$9.00-$14.00||$14.75-$24.00||Premium tile and/or very complex roof|
Every project is unique. The installed cost of your roof will depend on the material you use, the size and complexity of the roof and cost of living in your area. If you’re having an old roof replaced, removing existing materials will cost $1.00-$2.50 per square foot depending on the material and disposal factors.
While price is always important, the most crucial issue is the experience and expertise of the installers. Getting estimates from several well-respected tile roof contractors in your area is the best way to find a combination of competitive cost and quality installation.
Related Cost Reports:
TOP ROOFING TILE BRANDS
A small handful of companies have national distribution. Having a nearby factory or warehouse cuts shipping costs, which can be $150 per square or more.
Boral makes US Tile clay tile and Boral concrete tile. The brand’s Claylite ® tile is genuine clay tile that weighs 590lbs per square and is offered in six color blends.
Eagle Roofing Products is the largest manufacturer of concrete roof tile. It makes standard concrete tiles and Eaglelite, its lightweight alternative that can be installed on most roofs without reinforcement. Tiles weigh 550 to 720 pounds per square depending on the style.
Ludowici, MCA and Innova are additional clay tile manufacturers.
Other concrete tile brands are Crown and Vande Hey Raleigh, though both have limited distribution networks – or high shipping costs.
Most manufacturers have a policy that once the tile is put on a truck to your location, you are responsible for it – including the 5% to 10% broken tiles that can be expected when shipped a long distance.