How Much Does Clay Tile Roof Installation Cost?
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Clay Tile Roof Cost Guide
Updated: December 27, 2023
The cost of new clay tile roofing
While it’s far cheaper than slate and metal roofing options, clay tile is still a relatively expensive roofing material. On average, installing clay tiles on a new roof costs $16,901, while replacing an old roof with clay tiles typically costs around $20,055.
However, the price range for this project is vast. Homeowners often spend between $10,000 and $40,000 to install clay tiles on their roofs. This range is so wide due to several factors influencing the total costs. These factors include roof size, roof structure, tile type, and location.
Despite the high costs of clay tiles, many homeowners still choose them for their homes, and for very good reasons. Clay tiles are sturdy, protective, and designed for easy water runoff to keep moisture from your underlayment and roof deck. Additionally, their lifespans can extend over 100 years if they’re properly cared for, and they’re pretty low-maintenance to boot.
Their design and composition also make clay tiles 70% more heat-resistant than asphalt shingles, reducing thermal transfer from sunlight into your home. This can keep your home cooler (and more energy efficient) in summer, which is part of the reason clay tiles are so popular in southern and southwestern states like Florida, California, and Texas.
Last but not least, many homeowners just like how clay tiles look. Terracotta tiles have been used on roofs for thousands of years, adorning all kinds of buildings, from temples to chateaus to cottages. Modern clay tile roofs carry all of this history with them, elevating the charm and classic appeal of any home they’re attached to.
Keep reading if you want to install this sturdy and charming roofing material on your home. We’ll break down the various cost factors, weigh the benefits and drawbacks of different types of tile, and help you come up with a rough estimate of what you might pay to install your clay tile roof.
Factors that affect clay tile roofing costs
The size of your roof
As with any type of roof, the square footage of a clay tile roof will significantly impact its material and labor costs. Put another way, the bigger your roof, the more it will cost to install clay tiles. The average roof in the U.S. measures 1,700 square feet, and clay tiles cost about $994 per roofing square (100 square feet) to install, giving us an average price of $16,901.
However, if your roof is significantly larger or smaller than this average size, your final price will differ considerably from the average. Here’s a table that breaks down the price ranges for common roof sizes to give you an idea of what you should expect to pay.
Clay tile roofing price ranges by roof size
Cost to install clay tiles on a new roof
Cost to replace an old roof with clay tiles
1,000 square feet
1,500 square feet
1,700 square feet
2,000 square feet
2,500 square feet
3,000 square feet
Calculating your own estimate
If these sizes differ from your roof's, you can make your own estimate using this simple formula. First, divide the square footage of your roof by 100 to determine how many roofing squares it is large. For example, if your roof measures 500 square feet, it has five roofing squares. Then, multiply the number of roofing squares by $994 to find your estimate. For a new roof that measures five roofing squares large, the average installation cost for clay tiles would be about $4,970.
If you’re unsure how large your roof is, you can use our guide to measuring your roof to find out.
Keep in mind, though, that any price you get based solely on your roof’s size will just be a ballpark estimate since it won’t account for any other factors like the pitch of your roof, the type of tile you choose, removal costs, or where you live. At the end of the day, the only way to know exactly what you’ll pay for clay roofing tiles is to get your roof assessed by a professional.
The type of tiles you get
There are many different types of tiles to choose from. These six are the most common, and many other styles are just variations on these designs.
Clay tiles come in many different shapes and sizes, each providing unique practical benefits. Each is designed to capture a different aesthetic, allowing you to choose a tile shape that matches your taste. The flip side is that some tile shapes cost more than others.
Here’s a breakdown of different tiles' installation costs per square foot.
The costs of different types of clay tiles
Average price range (per sq. ft.)
The benefits of different tiles
Unlike many other styles, flat tiles feature no curves or frills. They just lay flat against a roof’s deck, though they are meant to interlock at their horizontal edges and overlap vertically to provide seamless protection. Their simplistic design can give a roof a sleek, modern appearance. Some specialty flat tiles are also textured to mimic the appearance of wood shakes so they can provide the benefits of clay with the rustic charm of wood.
Mission tiles are a type of barrel tile because they’re curved and get installed in alternating upside-down, right-side-up patterns to create dramatic ridges for flair and grooves for rainwater to run down. This design gets its name from the historical Spanish missions that commonly featured clay tile roofs. This association gives roofs outfitted with these tiles a dignified charm. Mission tiles are also sometimes called double Roman tiles.
Spanish-style tiles feature alternating flat and grooved segments that are meant to interlock with each other on a roof. The shape of a Spanish tile differs slightly from that of a mission tile, but when installed, they can appear almost identical. However, their interlocking design provides better weather resistance than mission tiles, so they’re a little better for areas with heavy rainfall. Spanish tiles are sometimes called Mediterranean tiles.
Of all the tile types, French tiles are among the most complex. They’re designed to interlock on all four sides instead of overlapping, each with multiple channels for water to run down. This makes French tiles—sometimes also called profile tiles—an excellent option for anyone who wants superior weather defense and a striking three-dimensional appearance for their roof.
Like a French tile, a Riviera tile features a more complex profile than most others. However, they also lie much flatter than other grooved tiles, giving them a more sleek yet dramatic appearance. They typically also feature interlocking edges to protect your roof decking from the elements.
These tiles feature a distinctive S-shape with overlapping edges, making them look like Spanish tiles. One unique benefit of pantile tiles is that they tend to be more lightweight than other clay tiles, making them a feasible option for some roofs that can’t support the weight of the other tile types.
If you have to tear off old roofing
As we’ve mentioned, replacing an existing roof is far more expensive than installing one on an entirely new build. This is because when you replace a roof, you have to tear off the old roofing material before installation can take place. On average, the demolition and removal of old clay tiles costs about $186 per roofing square.
For example, if you had a 1,700-square-foot roof and had to remove old clay shingles before installing your new ones, you should expect to pay around $3,154 for removal. Removing some other materials—such as asphalt shingles—will usually cost a bit less, though.
The design and pitch of your roof
The last major factor that will contribute to the cost of this project is the design of your roof. Roofs that feature complex elements like skylights and dormers are always more expensive to work on than roofs without them. So, if your roof features more intricate pieces than most others, you’ll likely pay more than average to install clay tiles.
Similarly, steeper roofs are more complex and treacherous to work on, so the more extreme your roof’s pitch or slope, the more you should expect to pay. Most roofs feature a slope between 4/12 (meaning that for every 12 inches of horizontal run, they rise four inches) and 9/12. So, if your roof is on the higher end of this range, you should expect to pay more than someone whose roof is on the lower end.
According to the International Code Council, you can’t install clay tiles on a roof with a slope under 2½/12. If your roof rises less than two and a half inches for every 12 inches of horizontal run, you can’t install clay tiles on your roof. If you simply must have clay tiles, you can always change the pitch of your roof, but this will increase your total costs by thousands of dollars.
If you’re unsure how steep your roof is, you can use our guide to find your roof’s pitch.
Clay tile roof pricing tiers
The budget option
If you want clay tiles for your new roof or roof replacement but don’t have much money to spend on the project, we recommend asking your roofer which tile types they carry are the most affordable. Flat tiles can be your cheapest option depending on proximity to manufacturers and other market factors, though this isn’t always the case.
Additionally, clay tiles can only be considered affordable if your roof is strong enough to withstand their weight. Clay is a relatively heavy roofing material, far heavier than cheaper options like asphalt shingles, and if your roof doesn’t have the strength to support the weight, you’ll have to reinforce it. This can add thousands of dollars to your project costs. And while lightweight pantile tiles might still be an option for you, you shouldn’t bank on it until you’ve met with a contractor.
Overall, the weight and material costs of clay tiles make them a poor—though not unattainable—option for homeowners on tight roofing budgets. But, on the plus side, their longevity and energy efficiency can save you money in the long run. Since clay tiles can last over 100 years and decrease your cooling bills the whole time, they can eventually pay for themselves by saving you on roofing replacement and energy costs.
Still, if you don’t have the necessary funds, you may have to go with low-tier options like asphalt shingles or PVC roofing instead. Alternatively, if you’re determined to get clay tiles, you can take out a loan or pursue other financing options to pay for this project.
If you’re considering installing your clay tiles yourself to save costs, we highly advise against it. Despite their longevity, clay tiles are very brittle, so their installation is a delicate and complex process. Doing it wrong can damage your tiles and roof deck, eventually damaging your whole home. All things considered, clay tile installation is a bad candidate for DIY home improvement.
The mid-range option
Clay tiles are pricey but far from the most expensive roofing material you can get. Options like slate, stainless steel, and copper all cost much more on average. This makes clay tiles a good option for customers who want high-end roofing without paying luxury prices.
Additionally, if you’ve got some room in your budget, you may be able to afford the costs of reinforcing your roof if it isn’t currently suited to the weight of clay tiles. Depending on how much reinforcement your roof requires, this hurdle could still put clay tiles outside your price range.
To keep costs manageable, we still recommend asking your roofer which of their tile options is most affordable before you get too attached to any style. Depending on where you live, your favorite type of tile may be too expensive to source or install, so you may have to opt for your second or third-favorite option.
The high-end option
If you’ve got plenty of money in the roofing budget, then clay tiles are a fantastic option. Their longevity makes them a sound investment in your home, and as we said, they can even save you money throughout their life.
If you’re going with clay for purely aesthetic reasons, there’s no reason not to get your favorite type of tile, even if it's made in faraway regions. Sourcing your tiles from distant manufacturers will usually mean you pay premium costs, but it also means your roof will be unique in your neighborhood. Just be sure you choose something that can withstand your region’s weather.
Additionally, if your roof isn’t currently equipped to handle the weight of clay, you should account for the costs to reinforce it. Exactly how much you’ll pay for reinforcement will depend on your roof, so you’ll only know after a contractor assesses its strength, though you should expect it to cost several thousand dollars. In some cases, this service can cost over $10,000. Beauty doesn’t come cheap!
How to pay for your clay tiles
Any way you slice it, clay tiles are expensive. If their high costs put them out of your price range, but you want to get them anyway, here are a few ways to pay for them:
- Installer financing. Roofers often partner with financial institutions to provide their customers with in-house financing. The terms and conditions of this financing option will depend on which contractors you hire, so be sure to ask about them during your roof assessment. In some (but not all) cases, installer financing is your most favorable option.
- Personal loans. If you have an excellent credit score, then taking out a personal loan to pay for your roof could be even more favorable than installer financing. This is because lending institutions often base interest rates and borrowable amounts on the borrower’s credit. If your credit score isn’t great, this might not be your best option.
- Home equity loans. With a home equity loan, a lender gives you a lump sum of money you have to pay back with interest, just like a personal loan. Unlike a personal loan, though, when you take out a home equity loan, you borrow against your home. This means that your interest rate will depend on how much equity you have in your home. Unfortunately, it also means that failing to pay the loan back means you could lose your home. Still, if you’ve got lots of equity but a bad credit score, this option could be better for your situation than getting a personal loan.
- Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). A HELOC is a revolving line of credit you open that’s secured by your home. This means that you can use a HELOC repeatedly to fund different home improvement projects. Like a home equity loan, though, failing to keep up with the payments could result in losing your home. Because of this, we only recommend opening a HELOC to install your clay tiles if you’re certain you can pay off the debt.
Other factors to consider
Clay tiles aren’t ideal for cold climates
Clay tiles are one of the best roofing options for hot regions because of their heat resistance. Still, they’re a liability in exceptionally cold regions or places where temperatures often fluctuate. This is because clay can crack if it freezes and thaws repeatedly. If you live somewhere with frigid winters or frequent cold snaps, you should probably opt for a different roof type, like asphalt or slate.
Your HOA can object
If your neighborhood has a homeowner’s association, you should get their approval before installing clay tiles on your roof. Otherwise, the HOA could force you to pause and undo the installation. Worst of all, you’ll have to pay for all the work.
And be warned that depending on what your HOA decides when you ask for approval, you may have to choose a different roofing material. This would be unfortunate but still better than paying to install clay tiles and then immediately paying to replace them with a material your HOA approves of.
You have to apply for permits
When you install new roofing on your home, you have to apply for building permits beforehand. Exactly how you apply and which permits you need will depend on where you live, though. Luckily, your roofing contractors will handle all the applications for you, though you’ll still have to pay for it. Applying for roofing permits can cost up to $500.
You have to keep up with the upkeep
To help your tiles last as long as possible, you need to maintain them properly. This means scheduling annual roof inspections, replacing cracked tiles immediately, and getting new underlayment every decade or so.
Additionally, while clay tiles are highly resistant to pests like insects, they do tend to attract algae. You can prevent algae buildup by cleaning your roofing tiles with water and mild detergent, but be aware that walking on your tiles can break them. Because of this, we recommend professional roof cleaning services. The pros will know how to navigate your tiles while cleaning them.
Lastly, you should keep your gutters clean. This will prevent water from pooling on top of your clay tiles, seeping between them, and causing water damage to your roof decking.
How much a clay tile roof can cost
At an average price of $16,901 for installation, clay tiles are an expensive roofing option, though their many benefits make them well worth the cost. Whether you’re in the market for a roof that will last your whole life, bring down your energy bills, or increase your home’s curb appeal, clay tiles may be ideal for you. This is especially true if you live in a hot southern or western region.