Pros and Cons of Tile Clay Roofing

Tile clay roofs are incomparable in their beauty and durability. And while they can get pricey and a little heavy, that can be expected from a roof that is created to last 100 years. 

Traditionally, most roof tiles were created from fired clay, slate, or terra cotta products. Today, however, you can often find roofing tiles that are made from moulded, tinted concrete. Roofing tiles can come in a range of styles and take a variety of shapes: flat, curved, interlocking, or fluted.

Tile roofing is often used for roofs that experience exposure to salt air or hot weather. That’s why you can often observe tile roofs in Toronto GTA, and Ontario. Clay roofs are excellent at shedding rainfall, so they are perfect for areas where infrequent cloudbursts or rains dump large amounts of water in short periods of time. 

If you are thinking of getting a tile roof for your house, keep in mind that these types of roofs are very heavy and can break. To avoid this, roof framing needs to be sturdy enough to support the weight of the roof.

Pros of Tile Clay Roofing

  • Long-lasting. A tile roof is made to last over a century, especially when installed in the appropriate climate. Concrete and clay roofs are known to withstand high winds, hail, and even fire. After you install your tile roof, you will never have to worry about installing another type of roofing again. Most manufacturers also offer a 50-year warranty just in case.
  • Energy-efficient. Clay tiles have a heavy thermal mass, which helps to regulate indoor temperatures.
  • Impervious to insect damage and rot. Unlike wooden roofs, clay tiles will never decay.
  • Low maintenance. With tile roofing, leaks are very rare. In addition, unless the roof breaks under a heavy impact, tile roofs don’t usually require any maintenance or repairs.
  • Environmentally-friendly. Tile roofs are made from environmentally-friendly materials coming directly from Earth, rather than from artificial chemicals. The tiles can also be pulverized and recycled in the future.
  • Plenty of choices. Slate, concrete, and clay tiles come in a broad range of styles and colours to match any home style, from Contemporary European to Medieval. Some styles are even created to resemble traditional wood shakes or shingles.

Cons of Tile Roofing

  • Heavyweight. For a tile roof to serve for years to come, your roof structure must be able to withstand the weight of the tiles. A tile roof may weigh as much as 850 lbs per square of clay tile and 950 lb per square of concrete tile. For comparison, an asphalt roof weighs 225-235 lbs per square. If you are thinking of replacing your shingle roof with tiles, consult an engineer to see whether structural reinforcement is necessary, which will increase the total cost of the roof.
  • High cost. Clay roofing can cost 2-3 times more than a comparable asphalt roofing system. The average cost of a concrete tile roof is $400-$450 per square, while clay tile roofing can range between $675 and $1,400 per square. Slate tiles are the most expensive, with the average costs ranging between $1,000 and $4,000 per square. However, it is important to remember that tile roofing is installed to serve you a lifetime and beyond.
  • Difficult installation. Installation of tile roofing requires skilled and experienced professional roofing contractors. The tiles need to be accurately measured and laid out in a specific pattern. Roofing contractors will also make sure that no moisture can get through.
  • Not suitable for all roof slopes. Tile roofing can only be installed on roofs with a relatively sharp slope. It can not be applied on roofs with pitches under 4:12.
  • Tiles are brittle. Clay, concrete, and slate tiles are incredibly durable, but they can be broken under a heavy impact, for example from falling tree branches. If required, repairs can become expensive.

Tile Styles

Concrete and clay tiles are available in a variety of styles to match any design and aesthetic goal.

  • Spanish tiles are used for classic Southwest roofs; they look like rows of waves with troughs in between to carry rainfall water away. This style of tiles is optimal for regions where rains are infrequent but heavy. Terra cotta, clay, and concrete tiles are all available in the Spanish style.
  • Portuguese roof riles are similar to Spanish tiles, but the tile rows have more distinct ribs that are visible from afar. In addition, water troughs are smaller but more frequent. This style is often used in architecture in Mediterranean areas. Double Roman tiles are available in concrete, clay, and terra cotta, with the concrete material being the most popular.
  • Scandia tiles look similar to Spanish tiles, inverted upside down. Visually, they appear as sharp vertical ridges combined with scallop-shaped, wide troughs. This style is very common in designs based on northern European styles.
  • Pantile roofs are created from clay tiles that resemble a flattened S in shape. This type of roofing has a ripple appearance and is generally cheaper and lighter than other tile roofs.
  • Flat shake tiles are typically made out of concrete and are created to resemble the texture of wood shakes or granulated asphalt shingles. These roofs are relatively flat and easily shed light rains. However, they aren’t ideal for areas where heavy rainfalls are common. Flat shake tiles can be adapted to match nearly any architectural style. 
  • Barrel tiles are semi-cylindrical, similar to Roman and Spanish tiles. However, here, the cylinders have a tapered shape, which is wider at one end. This tapering makes barrel tiles a good choice for curved roofs.
  • Riviera tiles present a flattened version of double Roman tiles, in which the humps look like flat ridges combined with flat-bottomed, shallow troughs.
  • French tiles appear as an inverted Roman roof. They also have much wider troughs which allow them to withstand and channel away heavy rainfalls.