Are clay roof tiles right for your home

Marley roof tile on a housing project

Clay roof tiles vs concrete roof tiles – which is the right choice for a home?

Clay roof tiles and concrete roof tiles are both excellent choices for roof coverings – but which is the better option? The right product will depend mainly on your aesthetic preferences, while budget, location, weight and long-term durability can also play a part in your decision.

Choosing a roof covering

Roof coverings come in many different types and materials. There are natural slate, timber shingles and shakes and composite roof tiles, but clay roof tiles and concrete roof tiles are by far the most common options in the UK.

While the main difference between these two products is in their composition, there are other differences that should be considered.

So which is best – concrete roof tiles or clay roof tiles? The answer is “it depends” – the right choice will depend on your roof requirements. Let’s look at some of the different criteria so you can make an informed selection.

Appearance – is there a difference between clay tiles and concrete roof tiles?

Both modern clay roof tiles and modern concrete roof tiles come in a huge range of shapes, colours and styles, so you’re sure to find an option that suits the appearance of the property, as well as your personal preferences.

If you’re looking for traditional charm, then a clay tile such as the Hawkins plain tile, or Ashdowne handcrafted plain tile, is likely to be your roof cladding of choice. However, there are many concrete options that replicate the look of clay. For example, the Mendip double pantile has elegant curves, and it is available in several shades that replicate clay.

In addition, concrete tiles can also be provided in designs that give the appearance of natural slate, such as the Riven Edgemere tiles.

Location and planning requirements

The choice of roofing material plays a big role in the overall appearance of a property, but it also affects how the building blends in with its surroundings. Since roofs were traditionally made with local materials, homes in a specific region are more likely to have roof coverings made of a certain material.

If you want the property to blend in with other homes in the neighbourhood, or with the natural landscape, take a look at what types of roof tiles are already in use in the area. In some locations, you may be required to use a certain type of roof tile to ensure the home matches the local architecture. For example, in some projects, natural slate, or a concrete slate alternative may be necessary for planning permission.

Are clay tiles more expensive than concrete tiles?

Generally speaking, concrete roof tiles cost less than clay tiles. This is mainly due to the fact that clay tiles take longer to manufacture.

Handmade clay tiles are typically the most expensive, and the higher price is directly related to the extra labour cost, which results in a high-quality finish with natural irregularities that give a unique character to the property.

For those who desire clay tiles, but on a tighter budget, it’s also important to remember that some clay tiles – such as our Acme single camber clay tile – are priced more closely to similar concrete products.

Does the weight of roof tiles matter?

Many people believe that concrete roof tiles weigh more than clay roof tiles; however, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, in the Marley range of roof tiles, clay tiles tend to weigh more per square metre, although this does depend on the product and how they are installed.

In most roofing projects, the weight of the roof tile won’t matter, so this probably won’t play a part in your decision-making. However, in some properties, the extra weight of concrete roof tiles may put extra strain on the roof structure, or even the walls. If this is something that you’re concerned about, please get in touch with a member of our team for guidance.

Which is more durable – clay or concrete roof tiles?

In terms of long-term durability, clay and concrete roof tiles are very similar. Both come with 15-year product warranties and are generally expected to have lifespans of 60 years or more. In most cases, other elements of the roof structure will need replacing long before the tiles do, although durability will also depend on factors such as the local climate.

Maintenance of both types of tiles is minimal. Occasional cleaning of concrete and clay roof tiles  may be necessary to remove moss or lichen, and care needs to be taken to ensure there’s no debris build-up on the roof. But otherwise, the tiles typically require no additional care.

Some concrete tiles experience something called efflorescence after they are installed. Also known as lime bloom, this can look like white patches or streaks on the tiles, or the tiles may become lighter. While you might worry that this is colour fading, it's actually caused by natural lime within the concrete reacting with air and rainwater; it usually washes away with the rain within a few months.

Concrete or clay roof tiles? See for yourself

Here at Marley, we offer a wide range of concrete roof tiles and clay roof tiles, making it easy for you to find a product that suits your aesthetic preferences, and which also meets the performance requirements for your project. You can browse our products online or download our latest roofing product catalogue for more information.

If you’d like to feel the quality of our roof tiles, and see how they look in person before you buy, you can use our roofing samples service to receive a sample of the products you’re considering. 

Category: Roofing