Concrete and Clay Tile Roofs: What’s the Difference?

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Concrete and Clay Tile Roofs: What’s the Difference?

When the time comes to build or replace your roof, there are a wide variety of options that can prove to be overwhelming unless you have done proper research and know what you’re looking for in a good roof. 

Which should you choose and why? 

Two of the most popular choices are concrete and clay tile roofs. Each of these materials have their own distinct advances which could fulfill your requirements in a satisfactory roof and tend to be very weather resistant and provide great longevity. 

To decide which is best for you, however, it is important to know the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each of these styles.

What’s the Difference?

First of all, it helps to understand more about each of these materials. 

Baking molded clay results in clay tiles, the density of which is determined by its heating process. There are many color options, usually earthy tones including shades ranging from white to brown. These tiles are easily recyclable and eco-conscious and will not suffer at the hands of wind or fire. 

On the other hand, concrete tiles are a mixture of sand, cement, and water which are molded under high pressure and heat. They are available in flat, slightly curved, or significantly curved tiles, with options for smooth or rough surfaces, and can emulate a variety of other roof styles, including clay. These strong tiles are also resistant to wind and fire. 


Cost is usually a major consideration when planning which type of roof you wish to install on your building. 

The tiles themselves can range widely in price depending on how readily available each type of tile is in your region. You can typically expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $5-$11 if concrete tiles are readily available, and $4-$15 dollars when clay tiles are available. 

Of course, if they’re in short supply, the costs may be considerably more and that only accounts for the price of the tiles themselves, not installation. If you are installing them yourself, that will work, but if you’re having them installed by a professional, expect higher fees. 

With installation, you can expect a range of $10-$20 dollars average per square foot for concrete, while clay runs about $13-$25. 

If the tiles are sophisticated or complex, the installation fees may be higher.


The tile weight can be an important factor when considering roofing materials because the support bearings need to be sufficient to maintain the weight or you may face serious problems down the line, especially once water absorption is taken into consideration. 

The standard weight of clay tiles is usually an average of 635 pounds per square foot, but concrete can weigh up to 40% more than that, averaging 900 pounds per square foot or more. 

Plan carefully based on which of these roofing materials you ultimately choose for your structure! 

Water Absorption

Water absorption can add additional weight to the roofing materials, which may cause problems down the line for support structures. 

Clay tiles suffer a water absorption rate of about 5%, which is minimal and generally does not cause much of a problem.  

However, concrete tiles will take in about 14% of water in absorption, and as they are already a heavier material to begin with, this may cause problems if these factors are not taken into account and preparations made to ensure that the structure can withstand this additional weight. 

Longevity and Durability

Clay will outperform concrete if longevity is your main concern, and can endure the elements up to and over a century in best-case scenarios, while concrete typically lasts between 30 and 50 years. 

Furthermore, the natural quality of clay tiles will provide longer lasting natural color, while concrete will fall short in this category as well, fading over time or staining because of the porous nature of concrete. 

On the other hand, clay tiles face a greater propensity to shatter if you live in colder climates, while concrete is able to endure in any temperatures. 

Maintenance Requirements

In order to reach maximum longevity, it’s important to practice maintenance procedures to ensure that your roof is safe from damage and risk over time. Periodically, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspect the roof for any damage and to perform any maintenance requirements. 

Clay roofs are easy to maintain as there is very little needed to ensure their longevity, while concrete tiles face problems due to their water absorption rate, which can cause staining and mildew, plus the additional weight of these tiles requires additional supervision. 

Pros and Cons

Here’s a quick list to show the benefits and detriments to using each of these building materials: 

Concrete Roofing


  • Versatility and style
  • Decent durability
  • Good longevity 
  • Sustainability in all climates


  • Weight
  • Color fade
  • Higher maintenance requirements

Clay Roofing


  • Longevity
  • Great durability
  • Eco-friendly
  • Easy to repair
  • Low maintenance


  • More expensive
  • Can be fragile
  • Not suitable for cold climates

Final Thoughts

If you choose one of these two types of roofs, you are more than likely going to be covered for the life of the structure which you are building, especially if you are choosing tile. 

Each of the types have different advantages, but your decision should take into account the strength of your building’s support structures and the climate, as concrete can add additional weight due to its natural heft and its water absorption rate. 

Also, if you live in cold climates, there is a greater risk that clay roofing will fragment or crack, so that should be a consideration as well.

As the appearance of each of the types of roofing can vary, also consider which you find personally aesthetically pleasing, particularly if you are running a business and want to attract clientele with an alluring roof style. 

Just keep in mind that if concrete is your choice, it is important to have it maintained more rigorously than if you are using tile to ensure to increase its longevity and ensure that it remains beautiful and sturdy for the future.

Horizon Roofing – serving the Orange County, CA area – is your reliable local roofing contractors. We specialize in residential roofing and commercial roofing and have been in the industry for over a decade. We have excellent reviews and look forward to serving your need.


Call us on(714) 328-1967, email us at, or contact us here today.