Clay vs Concrete Roof Tiles – How to Choose?

Keeping your roof in good condition serves a few important purposes. It makes your house look nice and helps the resale value. It also protects your home from weather conditions.

Beyond that, it impacts the energy efficiency of your home.

Some of the best roofing materials and clay and concrete. Unlike the top competitor asphalt, these materials offer longevity and a unique high-end look. However, you will need to choose one or the other, and when comparing clay vs concrete roof tiles, you will find they are quite similar.

The differences are slight but can help you to make your final choice.

Why Use Tiles Instead of Other Roofing Materials?

Tile roofs are a top choice for climates where it gets incredibly hot or where there is salt air because they hold up better than other types of roofing materials under these conditions, says the Tile Roofing Industry Alliance.

They also are excellent for areas that suffer a lot of harsh weather conditions due to their ability to shed rain effectively.

Tile roofs also last much longer. The lifespan of tile materials, such as clay and concrete, is often greater than typical roofing materials, such as asphalt. They require less maintenance as well.

Tile roofing also increases a home’s resale value. So, while the upfront costs may be higher, tile roofing materials offer a better overall investment.

Concrete Vs Clay Roof Tiles: A Comparison

Concrete is a mixture of water, sand, and cement. The mixture goes into molds and is put under pressure and heat to cure. Concrete roof tiles include specific designs that help them lock together to make them watertight. It is easy to create any style of tile because of the molding process used to create these tiles.

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Clay is a natural material. It is not as easy to get as concrete ingredients. Like concrete tiles, clay roof tiles go through a baking process to harden them.

It is also possible to shape them into different shapes and styles.

The Look of Concrete vs Clay Roof Tiles

Both types of roof tiles come in a range of colors and styles. Concrete is usually more versatile and offers more options. It has many choices in textures and styles. You can get concrete tiles that look like other roofing materials as well.

Clay does come in many different colors and styles. However, textures are not as readily available in clay.

Clay holds color added into it for up to 50 years, whereas cement will hold color for only about 30 years before fading begins. Concrete may hold color longer if it has a glaze.

Roofing Tile Weight Comparison

Both concrete and clay are heavy materials. They weigh many times more than other types of roofing materials. Due to the weight, you may have to have support beams and other work done to your roof prior to installation to help prevent a cave-in.

While both are heavy, clay weighs even more than concrete, so it may add to the work you need to complete before you can install your clay tiles.

Durability and Lifespan

The most significant selling point of tile roofing is that it has a very long lifespan. Concrete lasts an impressive 50 years, but it is clay that wins for longevity with a 100-year lifespan.

While it is great that concrete and clay roofing lasts a long time, there is one downside. Before putting on the tiles, your roofing contractor will need to install an underlay. This helps keep out moisture and improves the overall function of the roof. However, this underlay only lasts about 20 years.

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What this means is that your roofing contractor will have to remove the tiles and replace the underlay. Since the tiles will still be usable, the contractor will have to reinstall them.

With concrete, this will usually not be too big of a problem. You will need to replace the underlay about two times before the tiles also need replacing. Concrete is relatively durable, so there is little concern about the breakage of the tiles during removal or reinstallation.

Clay is a different story. These tiles are delicate and break easily if they drop or any pressure is put on them. This means that removing them and reinstalling them will take a lot longer. There is also a high chance of having to replace tiles due to breakage.

Cost of Concrete vs Clay Roof Tiles

Clay is more expensive than concrete, mainly because it is a natural product that is more difficult to get. The average costs to install a tile roof is usually more than concrete.

The low end runs around $25,000, with the high end being about $50,000. It will depend largely on the size of your roof and any support work required prior to the installation.

Modernize explains that concrete roofs cost from $20,000 to $40,000. Again, if you need additional structural work, this will increase the cost. Also, you should note that concrete costs vary widely by location, so in your area, the costs may be much lower.

Pros and Cons

When looking at clay versus concrete roof tiles, you have to consider the pros and cons. The thing about these materials is that they are both tile roofing, which means many of the good and bad points about them are the same.

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Pros for Both:

  • Have a significant positive impact on resale value
  • Resist insects
  • Class A fire rating
  • Keeps home cooler due to thermal resistance
  • High wind resistance

Cons for Both:

  • Time-consuming to install
  • Require replacement of underlay before tile replacement

There are some distinct pros and cons for each type of tile roofing material. Let’s take a closer look at clay:

Pros for Clay Tile:

  • Long lifespan of 100 years
  • Provide the best initial energy efficiency
  • Richer color options

Cons for Clay Tile:

  • May be hard to get
  • Breaks easily from impacts
  • Energy efficiency decreases over time
  • Heavier than concrete
  • Requires special cleaning measures

While concrete has many advantages, it also has some potential drawbacks. Here’s a rundown of both:

Pros for Concrete Tile:

  • Less expensive than clay
  • More texture options
  • More readily available
  • Protects against hail and impacts
  • The only maintenance needed is to rinse with water

Cons for Concrete Tile:

  • Shorter lifespan than clay
  • May require additional roof support
  • Color fades easily

The Bottom Line

If you want a roof that provides you with the best value for your money, then choosing tile is the right choice. However, you then need to decide between clay vs concrete roof tiles, which can be a bit more difficult.

If budget is your biggest concern, then you should choose concrete because you can usually get the best deal on it over clay. However, if you want tiles that will last the longest, then clay is the top choice.