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Roof Tile: Which Kind Do I Want?

Tiles are made out of tough material. There are a wide range of tile installation options and most all of them are based on design. While tiles tend to look a bit more ornate than the average gray shingle (and usually cost more, too) — they are also one of the toughest roofing materials in existence.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular roof tile choices out there:


"Clay" is a common description for ceramic and terracotta rooftops. The classic red-hued, curved tiles that you've seen throughout Atlanta represent a quintessential clay roof. Because humans have been working with clay roofs for thousands of years, they come in a variety of different styles and colors.

What are the benefits of having a clay roof? Clay roofs have excellent heat resistance, which makes them great for hot areas. In addition, they have strong fire resistance ratings. However, they are weak when faced with impact. This makes clay a more challenging choice for areas that are frequently hit with high windstorms, or for areas with overhanging trees that rain down debris. Fortunately, though, clay can be a very durable material and can last as long as the house itself when properly installed.


Concrete tiles are a newer invention. These tiles are cast using concrete (hence the name). This creates flatter tiles that maintain lower profiles than clay tiles. Unlike ceramics, concrete tiles can be easily painted or dyed, making them more stylistically versatile. These interlocking roof tile shapes can even resemble wood or clay - but are often less expensive.

Concrete, as you can imagine, is highly resistant to fire as well. Concrete isn't bothered by hail or wind. That said, there are a few downsides to concrete tiles. Concrete tends to absorb moisture (even with sealants in place). This can lead to mildew and decay in wet areas. Concrete doesn't do well in extreme temperatures (as it can crack or shatter). Concrete is one of the heaviest roofing materials around, so its weight can create structural issues.

Stone (Slate)

Slate is the main option when it comes to stone tiles. While slate can't really be colored, it does come in natural shades that blend well together. This makes for a natural, beautiful looking roof. In fact, appearance is usually why homeowners end up choosing slate.

Slate (the most expensive tile option) has fantastic durability. When properly installed, it has great longevity and fire resistance. It isn't usually affected by pests or weather. However, slate is also delicate in some ways: It can break underfoot without care, and may split in freezing conditions. This is especially true if the slate is of poor quality. Finally, slate also a very heavy roofing material, so ask a professional if it's suitable for your house before deciding on it.

Photo Source: Flickr

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