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Pros and Cons of a Tile Roof

Written by Chris Gennone

Published on December 16, 2020


Pros and Cons of a Tile Roof

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Image source: Semper Solaris

Let’s be honest. With its natural Earth-tones and unique designs, a tile roof just looks better than a traditional asphalt roof. And many tile options are more environmentally friendly than asphalt, anyway, so they’re better for the planet. Roofing tiles are versatile and available in a variety of styles, colors, and materials. Sure, tile roofs can become costly with materials and installation, but they do have a wide range of benefits. Let’s explore your options and discuss why a tile roof is best for your home.

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Why tile roofing?

Image source: Tucson.com

Tile roofs have been used for thousands of years, often lauded for their durability and classic appearance. But why should you choose tiles over something a bit more cost-effective like asphalt shingles or wood shakes? Roofing tiles are completely made up of recycled materials and are easy to reuse. Some types, like clay tiles, also help circulate hot air, rather than trapping it in and preventing leakage. While asphalt is also mostly made up of recycled materials, many recycling centers won’t accept asphalt shingles.

Tile roofing is expensive, costing more than double the amount of asphalt, but it will save you money in the long run. Asphalt roofs typically need to be fixed or replaced every 15-20 years, but a tile roof can last 50 years or more with little maintenance. While it is possible to install roofing tiles yourself, we suggest hiring a professional roofing contractor. But there’s a large variety of roofing tiles to consider before deciding what’s best for your home. Let’s figure out the cost of each type to see what fits your budget.


Image source: Tadlock Roofing

While tile roofs generally cost around $1.50 and $25 per square foot, they can vary in price depending on the materials they’re made from. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect to pay for each type of tile roof for materials only on average.

Clay tiles

Concrete tiles

Slate tiles

$5 - $15 per square foot

$3 - $20 per square foot

$1.50 - $30 per square foot

Compare prices from tile roof installers near you

Tile roof types, pros, and cons

Before settling on a specific roofing tile, let’s get an understanding of the pros and cons of each type.

Clay tiles

Image source: Matthews Roofing

Spanish or terra cotta clay tiles are a popular roofing option across the Southwest and Southeast regions of the United States due to their ability to withstand heat and other extreme weather conditions. But clay roof tiles have a variety of other benefits, too.

Pros of Clay Tiles

Longevity - Clay tiles are among the longest-lasting roofing material, lasting hundreds of years or more.

Durable - Clay tiles are fireproof and have a Class A fire rating, which is the highest level it can reach. They are also impact and wind-resistant as well, able to withstand high winds, popular with homeowners in Florida.

Low-maintenance - Unlike asphalt shingles which often need to be repaired or replaced, clay roofing tiles rarely need to be fixed. If they do crack or need repairs, tiles can individually be replaced instead of removing whole sections of the roof.

Cons of Clay Tiles

Expensive - There’s no getting around it. Clay tiles are one of the most expensive roofing materials, costing nearly $10 to $25 a square foot installed or $30,000 for a typically-sized roof.

Prone to cracking - Clay tile is prone to cracking in colder temperatures. For this reason, we recommend clay tiles for homes in warmer climates.

Concrete tiles

Image source: CeDur Roofing

Concrete and clay tiles are long-lasting and durable roofing materials. Though concrete is a heavier material than clay, a concrete tile roof can withstand colder temperatures and is a cheaper alternative.

Pros of concrete tiles

Eco-friendly - Like clay, concrete tiles are made up of natural materials and are easily recyclable and reusable.

Durable - Concrete roof tiles have a long lifespan and can last up to 50 years. They can also withstand colder temperatures than clay tiles.

Energy-efficient - Concrete tiles protect your home from solar radiant heat and help circulate hot air.

Cons of concrete tiles

Heavy - Concrete tiles can weigh up to 1,200 lbs per square, so we suggest that you check the structure of your home with a structural engineer.

Prone to moisture - While clay tiles are prone to cracking, concrete tiles are prone to absorbing moisture, requiring more maintenance.

Slate tiles

Image source: Restoremasters

Known for their Gothic-style appearance, slate roof tiles are incredibly durable and can withstand most extreme weather conditions. While most slate roofs last up to 30-40 years before being repaired or replaced, some can last hundreds of years.

Pros of slate tiles

Durable - Slate tiles are made of stone, making them extremely durable. Slate roofs are fire, wind, and impact-resistant.

Low-maintenance - Slate is very dense, rarely absorbing much moisture. And due to its durability through the harshest weather, you’ll rarely have to worry about repairs on a slate roof.

Increased home value - Because of its strong materials and ability to last for a long period of time, a slate roof can help increase the resale value of your home if you ever decide to sell.

Cons of slate tiles

Expensive - Slate tiles aren’t cheap. In fact, they’re more expensive than clay and concrete tiles. The materials are more expensive to make and the installation itself requires a professional roofer.

Heavy - Like clay and concrete tiles, slate tiles are also very heavy. Again, we strongly recommend you check with a structural engineer before deciding to install slate tiles.

Metal tiles

Image source: Atas International

Metal roofing can be made from different materials, including steel, copper, zinc, and aluminum, each with its own set of benefits. But let’s discuss the pros and cons of metal roofing tiles, which differentiate between panels and standing seam systems. Metal roofing panels are directly attached with exposed fasteners, which can ultimately wear over time. Metal sheet tiles or shingles are stamped with a desired texture or appearance and are attached with concealed fasteners.

Pros of metal tiles

Lightweight - Metal roofing tiles are very lightweight. Unlike heavier materials like clay and concrete, you likely won’t have to consult with a structural engineer.

Energy-efficient - With most styles of paint coatings, metal roofs can reflect solar radiant heat and keep your home warm in the summer.

Low maintenance - While clay and concrete tiles are susceptible to damage in colder climates, metal roofing systems feature longer warranties than most.

Cons of metal tiles

Corrosive - While metal roofing tiles don’t crack as clay tiles do, metal tiles can corrode over time with repeated exposure to rain.

Difficult to install - Not only are metal roofing tiles expensive on their own, but the installation can also jack up the cost even higher. Finding a professional installer is necessary for a metal tile roof.

Solar tiles

Image source: Clean Energy Authority

Solar-powered roof tiles and panels are paving the way for the future of renewable energy. Currently, the most popular option is Tesla’s solar shingles. When you install a Tesla solar roof, you replace your entire existing roof with both active and inactive solar tiles. Active solar tiles contain solar cells that provide energy for your home. The inactive solar tiles do not produce any electricity but help protect your roof and give it a uniform appearance so the other tiles don’t stand out.

Pros of solar tiles

Reduces energy bills - Solar-powered roof tiles can help reduce your energy bill by 40-60%.

Tax credits - Homeowners with solar roof tiles or panels are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit for installations done before 2033. This means that the federal government will credit you 30% of the cost of your system on your taxes. In 2033, the credit will decrease to 26%, and then in 2034 it will decrease to 22%. In 2035, the federal tax credit will go away completely. 

Environmentally friendly - Solar power is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy. Not only do solar tiles and panels help reduce the carbon footprint, but they're available everywhere and cause no harm to the environment.

Cons of solar tiles

Expensive - The biggest disadvantage of solar tiles is cost. Tesla’s solar shingles cost $1.80 per watt, while inactive shingles cost $20 per square foot. So depending on the size of your roof and electricity usage, you could expect to pay anywhere from $39,800–$48,700 or more for a 6.14 kW roof before tax credits. On a more positive note, labor charges are included. Opting for a solar roof is probably the best option if you’re looking to replace your whole roof.

Long wait - If you order solar tiles from Tesla, you can expect a lengthy wait time before installation. Tesla will first have to assess your home and then approve proper permits, which could take several weeks.

Is a tile roof right for you?

Image source: Galvan Builders

While tile roofs can be more expensive than wood shakes or a typical asphalt shingle roof, they will eventually save you money in the long run. Roofing tiles can help reduce your energy costs while keeping your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. And unlike asphalt roofs which require more maintenance and typically need to be replaced every 20 years, tile roofs can last up to 50 years or more.

Some types of roof tiles will work more efficiently than others depending on the climate zone you live in. If you plan on staying in your home for a long while or want to invest in a clean, renewable energy source like solar power, we recommend installing a tile roof.

Get free estimates from trusted tile roof installation companies