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What is a tile roof?

a concrete tile roof on a house

Concrete tile roof. Photo courtesy Boral Roofing

We’ve all seen photos of old European and Spanish buildings with wavy roofs. Tile roofs have been around for thousands of years, but what is a tile roof, what are the advantages and disadvantages, and should you have one?

A tile roof is a roof made from clay, ceramic, concrete or slate tiles. Each tile is secured to the roof deck by nails. Just like asphalt shingles, a tile roof is completed by starting at the bottom or lower most part of the roof, securing a row of tiles, then overlapping the next or second row of tiles over the first.

What are the advantages of a tile roof?

Durability
When installed correctly, concrete tile roofs can withstand hail stones as large as 2″.

Longevity
Can last hundreds of years. Tile roofs easily outlast every other residential roofing material.

Fireproof
Clay and concrete tiles carry a Class-A fire rating, which is the highest fire rating.

High-wind resistant
Tiles are designed and tested to withstand 150+ mph winds.

Recyclable
Clay, concrete and ceramic tiles are easily and often recycled.

Breathable
Because of the space between each tile, a tile roof is naturally better ventilated and insulated providing a cooler house in the summer and a warmer house in the winter.

Low Long-term Cost
Because a tile roof can last, potentially, hundreds of years, it is the cheapest long-term roofing material.

Disadvantages of a tile roof?

Most expensive to install and repair
A tile roof can cost several times as much to install as an asphalt shingle roof. The average clay or concrete tile roof costs between $400 and $1,000 per square foot to install. By comparison, asphalt shingles cost between $3.50 and $5.50 per square foot to install.


Learn more about the differences between roofing materials including which is best, average costs and more in our Guide to Residential Roofing.


Heavy
Tiles are heavy and might require additional structural reinforcement. Clay tiles weigh as much as 850 lbs per square foot. Concrete tiles weight as much as 950 lbs per square foot. By comparison, asphalt shingles weight between 225 lbs and 325 lbs per square foot.

Brittle
A tile can break under the weight of the person installing it.

Who should have a tile roof?

  • Those that want that old-world look.
  • Those that can afford it.
  • Those whose house has a steep roof, for example more than 4/12.

Conclusion

Although it’s not the most popular, if your wallet and house can support a tile roof, it can be the most affordable and attractive residential roofing option. Feel free to contact us for a free estimate and to see if a tile roof is right for you.