Concrete vs Clay Tile Roofs

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Complete Guide to Concrete vs. Clay Tile Roofs

Before deciding between clay or concrete tile for your roof, it’s important to weigh the differences and benefits of each material. Roof tiles come in a variety of shapes, colors and costs, so it can be tricky to choose the best option for your needs. To help you decide, let’s look at the differences between their visual aspects, cost, durability, maintenance and more.

An Overview of Clay and Concrete Tiles

Clay tiles have been around for centuries and were originally molded by hand using clay or terra cotta. Today, we use machinery to extrude, mold and press clay tiles, then dry and fire them in a kiln. Concrete tiles are made by mixing sand, cement and water and molding them using pressure and heat. Both concrete and clay tiles come in various colors but have slight differences when it comes to weight, cost and durability.

Here’s how to tell the difference between clay and concrete roof tiles:


Also known as Spanish roofs, clay tile roofs come in different shapes, profiles and finishes that boast European and Mediterranean aesthetics. The most common clay tile has a dome-like shape. Terra cotta is the most common clay material, followed by ceramic. Traditional clay tiles have more earthy tones like reds and oranges, but today you can find them in a variety of greens, yellows, black and white.

Concrete is a flexible material that can be flat or shaped with curves. It can emulate clay, wood or stone, so your style options are endless.


Specific costs for both concrete and clay vary depending on your roof’s size and how many tiles it takes to cover it. All tile roofs are generally more costly than standard shingle roofing because of the labor involved.

Clay tiles are roughly $700 to $1,000 per square foot. Concrete tiles are cheaper than clay tiles, but it’s important to take the risks into account. Your home’s structural integrity could be at risk if your tiles are in danger of frequent cracks occurring — then it can become expensive.


At anywhere between 2 and 4 pounds per square foot, concrete weighs a lot more than clay, metal or asphalt. Clay tiles are lighter. Improper roof weight measurements might cause structural problems if the support is not sufficient, so it’s important to get roofing experts involved.

Water Absorption

Clay has a 6% absorption rate, while concrete has a 13% absorption rate. Clay tile has lower water absorption than concrete because concrete is naturally porous. You can choose sealed concrete, which has a waterproofed coating, to avoid absorption.


Keep algae, mold and common debris away by using a pressure washer to clean your clay tile roof every few years, depending on your environment. Professional roof inspections can be done annually to ensure tile roofs stay in top condition.

Concrete is a resilient, eco-friendly and recyclable material, but it can easily crack, especially if you live near hail-prone areas or near a lot of trees with falling branches. When cracks occur, it’s important to replace tiles immediately to avoid further moisture-related damage.


Clay or slate tiles may last more than 100 years and are resistant to fire, extreme temperatures, hail and high wind. This makes them perfect for coastal towns prone to hurricane damage.

Concrete tile roofs last about 50 years at a minimum and their thermal properties help them keep ownership costs minimal. It’s an eco-friendly material but can crack under certain conditions. If you live near trees or experience big hail storms, concrete tiles might not be the best fit.

What Is the Best Roof Tile to Use?

There are a few things to take into account when choosing your roof tile including, the area you live in, your budget and possible building regulations. While concrete and clay are resilient to extreme weather conditions, other roofing material options, like wood, steel, asphalt and even plastic may be the better option for your needs and lifestyle.

Concrete Roof Tile Benefits

Concrete roof tiles can be the perfect fit for many homeowners. Consider these benefits:

  • Concrete is a versatile roofing material that can be shaped into any shape with endless color options.
  • Concrete tiles are typically more affordable than clay tiles.
  • Roofs made with concrete tiles can withstand extensive fire damage.
  • Concrete tiled roofs can withstand strong winds.

Clay Roof Tile Benefits

Clay is a favorite option for many homeowners who love it for these advantages:

  • Clay tiles create a Spanish and Mediterranean look and feel.
  • Roofs made with clay tiles can last up to 100 years with proper maintenance.
  • Clay tiles are highly resistant to extreme temperatures and weather conditions.
  • Clay tiled roofs are great for hurricane-like conditions in coastal towns.

FAQ About Clay and Concrete Roof Tiles

The roofing you invest in is a significant decision. The right roof will protect your home for decades to come. Let these answers to frequently asked questions help you make the right choice.

Are Clay Tile Roofs Expensive?

Initially, clay tiles are more expensive than concrete tiles, but clay is more resilient and crack-proof than concrete. In the long-run, clay roofs rarely need replacement or significant repair if you choose professional installation and maintain the tiles properly.

How Long Does a Clay Roof Last?

Many clay roofs have lasted 100 years or more. Maintain them properly by:

  • Cleaning off mold, mildew and debris.
  • making prompt repairs or tile replacements as needed.
  • Inspecting and servicing tiles regularly.
  • Choosing professional installation.

Are Concrete Roof Tiles Good to Use?

Concrete tiles are eco-friendly and recyclable, so they are great for the environment. Using concrete can be cost-effective depending on the area you live. They also come in many shapes, sizes and colors, so you can find the perfect option for your home’s style and create curb appeal.

How Long Does a Concrete Roof Tile Last?

Concrete tiles can last over 50 or more years if maintained properly. They are prone to cracks from debris, branches and even hail. Choosing sealed concrete from a professional installation company will help your concrete tiles last longer and resist more damage.

Choose the Best Tile Option for Your Roof at RoofRX

Whether you’re opting for concrete or clay, getting expert advice can help you make the best decision. At RoofRX, we offer a wide range of roofing installation and servicing options. If you need a new reliable roof for your home or it’s time for a replacement, RoofRX is on your side. Get in touch with one of our experts for your next roofing project.