Roof tiles are a great option for hot climates, where cool roofs are most desirable. Tile is energy efficient and attractive, just two of numerous advantages to these kinds of roofs. The most popular types of tile that can be installed by a skilled roofing contractor are clay and concrete. Although they may look similar, there are a few differences between clay and concrete that homeowners should understand when considering a tile roof.
Similarities Between Clay and Concrete Tiles
Besides their look, clay tiles and concrete tiles share a number of important similarities that make them the desired material for hot climate roofs. Both clay and concrete are extremely thermal-resistant, absorbing UV energy during the day and releasing it at night, preventing the passage of heat into the dwelling. This factor alone makes clay or concrete one of the most energy-efficient choices in roofing materials, frequently resulting in lower cooling costs in the hottest climates.
Besides energy efficiency, clay and concrete tiles have other similarities, including life span. Both tiles, when properly installed by an experienced roofing contractor, should last 50 to 60 years (although some clay tiles can last 100 years or more depending on their composition). They are also both available in various tile styles, shapes, and colors, and can both be painted with colored coatings.
Differences Between Clay and Concrete Tiles
Although they are made using similar processes, clay and concrete tiles have a different composition, which results in a few notable differences that homeowners should be aware of:
- Composition - Clay tiles are made of natural clay that is baked at varying temperatures depending on the type of clay; concrete tiles are made from sand, cement, and water that is molded and heated at high temperatures. The different composition and processes result in tiles with different qualities;
- Weight - Both clay and concrete are fairly heavy as roofing material, but concrete can weigh as much as 40% more than clay tiles. Tile weight is especially important since tile should only be used on roofs strong enough to support them;
- Water Absorption - The amount of water that tiles absorb can not only add to the weight of a tile roof but also be a consideration for roof maintenance, since tiles that absorb more water can experience staining. Concrete tiles absorb about 13% of their weight, while clay tiles only absorb about 6%;
- Durability and Colorfastness - Clay tiles can crack or shatter when exposed to colder temperatures while concrete tiles will not. Both can be damaged by hail or by being struck by debris hitting the roof, however. In terms of colorfastness, clay tiles hold their natural color indefinitely, and ceramic coatings available on many tiles are extremely heat resistant, preventing color loss. Concrete tiles, on the other hand, tend to fade from UV exposure, and should be coated with UV protectants to help maintain colors and reduce porousness.
- Cost - Both clay and concrete tiles are fairly expensive in comparison to other roofing types, but clay typically costs about 30% more. Concrete tile is easier and less expensive to produce, while clay tiles offer a number of other benefits as pointed out above.
The decision on whether to install clay or concrete tiles on a roof is one that requires careful consideration and the assistance of an experienced roofing contractor. Both materials offer many advantages and some specific disadvantage that should be factored in. With the right type of tile installation, homeowners can enjoy their tile roofs and reap the many benefits, while understanding what to expect in terms of maintenance, appearance, and longevity.