Pros and Cons of Tile Roofing

A man laying clay roof tile
Fotolia/Public Domain

Tiled roofs are beautiful and durable. They are also expensive and heavy, but that is perhaps to be expected from a building material that will likely last nearly 100 years. Traditional roofing tiles were made from slate or fired clay product, but more modern types are made from concrete.  Roofing tiles can come in many shapes: curved, flat, fluted, or interlocking.  

Tile roofing is a great choice for roofs that experience hot weather or exposure to salt air.

This is why you very often see tile roofs in the Southwest, coastal Florida, and California. If you’re considering tile roofing for your home, be aware that these roofing systems are heavy and can break under certain conditions.

Pros of Tile Roofing

There are many advantages to installing tile roofing regardless of which material you choose. Some of these advantages include:

  • Long-lasting. A tile roof can last over 100 years, especially when installed in the right climate. Clay and concrete tile roofs have been known to withstand hail, high winds, and even fire. Once you install tile, you will never have to install another type of roofing again. Just in case, manufacturers will offer a 50-year warranty.
  • Plenty of choices. Clay, concrete, and slate tiles come in a wide variety of colors and styles to match any home style, from Medieval to Contemporary European. Some styles even resemble traditional shingles or wood shakes. 
  • Impervious to rot and insect damage. Unlike wood, tiles roofs will never decay. 
  • Environmentally friendly material. Tile roofs are made from earth minerals, not chemicals, and can be ground up and recycled when they are removed. 
  • Energy efficient. The heavy thermal mass of tiles will help regulate indoor temperatures. 
  • Low maintenance. Leaks are almost unheard of, and it is very rare for tile roofs to require repairs or maintenance unless they break due to heavy impact. 

Cons of Tile Roofing

There are some disadvantages to installing tile roofing: 

  • High cost. A clay tile roof system can cost two to three times as much as an asphalt roofing system. An average clay tile roof costs between $675 to $1400 per square (100 SF of roof area). Concrete tile roofs are more economical, with costs of $400 to $450 per square. This is offset, though, by the long life a tile roof will enjoy. 
  • Difficult installation. Installing tile roofing requires professional roofing contractors with extensive experience. The tiles will need to be measured, laid in a specific pattern, and checked so that no moisture gets through. This is not a DIY project.
  • Heavyweight. Your roof structure must be able to handle the weight of a tile roof, which may be as much as  850 pounds per square for clay tile and 950 pounds per square for concrete tile. An asphalt roof, by comparison, weighs around 225 to 325 pounds per square. If you’re replacing shingle roofing with tiles, you should consult an engineer to determine if there are needs for structural reinforcement, which will add to the cost of the roof. 
  • Tiles are brittle. While very durable, clay tiles, slate, and concrete tiles can be broken if they suffer a heavy impact, such as from falling tree branches, or even due to the pressure of walking on them. Repairs, when needed, can be expensive. 
  • Not suitable for all roof slopes. Tile roofs are suitable only for roofs with relatively sharp slopes. They should not be used on roofs with pitches less than 4:12.