A concrete tile roof is a lower-cost alternative to traditional clay tiling. It’s made from mixing sand, cement, water, and iron oxide, then shaping and heating the materials to form tiles. Concrete tile roofing is gaining popularity among homeowners, especially in regions such as California and Florida, because of its affordable price, durability, and unlimited design options.
However, concrete tiles won’t work on every roof, and your roof may require structural support to hold the extra weight. We’ll cover concrete roof tiling basics, the pros and cons of this roof type, and how it compares to other common roofing materials.
What Is Concrete Tile Roofing?
According to the Tile Roofing Industry (TRI) Alliance, concrete roof tiles were originally handmade with semiautomated machines. Today, tile manufacturers use automated production, making concrete tile a more economical option than other roofing materials on a life cycle basis.
Manufacturers make concrete tiles by mixing sand, cement, and water, adding iron oxide to give the tiles their classic color. The mixture is shaped and heated to form roof tiles. To install the tiles, roofers remove the old roof, replace the roof’s underlayment, and install battens over the underlayment and rafters to fasten the roof tiles.
Concrete tiles come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and finishes. There are three common styles, also known as profiles: low or flat, medium, and higher. Lightweight synthetic tiles are an alternative option if your roof can’t support concrete’s heavy weight. Concrete roof tiles are traditionally made using earth tones, such as brown or copper, but you can opt for concrete roof tiles in almost any color.
Types of Concrete Tiles
Concrete roof tiles come in many different types. Popular types include flat, barrel, interlocking, French, Spanish, and mission or double Roman.
- Barrel tiles: Barrel roof tiles are rounded, semi-cylinder tiles that offer a more classic look. However, the barrel style is typically the most expensive design option.
- Flat tiles: Flat tiles are the most common concrete roofing tile type. This classic design can adapt to almost any architectural style.
- French tiles: French tiles are low-profile with an interlocking design. These tiles have indents, or flutes, to help shed water more efficiently.
- Interlocking tiles: Interlocking tiles are the most budget-friendly option because the interlocking side joints allow pros to install the tiles quickly.
- Mission/double Roman: Mission tiles have a Mediterranean look, and the roof system includes separate barrels that form alternating concave and convex shapes on the roof.
- Spanish tiles: Spanish tiles have a wave-like pattern that works best in areas with heavy rain.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Concrete Tile Roofs
Concrete roof tiles come in almost any style and color options to match specific design preferences and architectural styles. They also have a longer life span than most other roofing materials. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, concrete roof tiles have a life span of 50 to 100 years or more, but their longevity depends on the installation process, how well it’s maintained, and the climate in your region.*
Another notable advantage of concrete roof tiles is their durability. Concrete tiles are Class A fire-rated and resistant to hail damage, high winds, and pests. Concrete tiles can withstand winds over 125 mph, which would strip off other roofing materials.
The two biggest drawbacks to concrete tile roofing are its higher up-front costs and weight. Even high-end asphalt roofing options are less expensive than tile roofing. This is because not all roofers have experience with tile, and if your roof requires structural reinforcement to hold the weight, it can increase the cost substantially.
*Article data and cost information via HomeAdvisor, Nachi, and TileRoofing.org.
Concrete roof tile installation costs vary depending on your roof’s size, the project’s complexity, roof pitch, location, and whether your roof requires additional structural reinforcement. The tiles’ type, style, color, finish, quality, and quantity also affect the total cost.
A concrete tile roof costs $2 to $4 per square foot for the materials and $7 to $19 per square foot fully installed.* This amounts to roughly $10,500 to $28,500 for a 1,500-square-foot roof. A concrete tile roof is a significant investment compared to an asphalt shingle roof, which costs between $5,750 and $12,200. If your roof requires extra support to hold the tiles, this could add $1,000 to $10,000 to the total cost, depending on the reinforcement required.
Life Span of Concrete Tile Roofs
Concrete tile roofs have an exceptionally long life span of 50 to 100 years. This type of roof can withstand the effects of weathering and age over the decades, resisting damage from high winds, fire, hail, and pests before requiring roof replacement. But how long roofs last also depends on proper maintenance.
Maintenance and Repairs
Concrete roofs have low maintenance requirements. Homeowners should regularly check for broken or missing tiles and clear debris from the roof that could create a damming effect when it rains. Pre-seal areas when necessary and remove moss growth. The TRI Alliance also recommends getting a yearly inspection to protect your roof.
You can hire a professional pressure washing company to remove moss from the roof, which costs $295 to $620, or $454 on average. If you notice broken or missing tiles from impact damage or fading, replacing several tiles can cost $250 per square foot.
If you notice water damage, the average roof leak repair cost ranges between $100 and $1,500. This may require underlayment replacement, which costs $0.50 to $2 per square foot, but the amount you pay depends on the type of underlayment and the slope of the roof.
Underlayment typically lasts 10 years, so most homeowners with a tile roof must replace it every decade. Without waterproof underlayment, the tiles can leak or crack over time.
Depending on your roof, installers may need to add a layer of underlayment. Tile roofing requires a minimum slope of 2.5:12, which means that the structure must rise at least 2.5 inches for every 12 inches of length. This often requires a two-ply underlay.
Concrete Tile Roofs vs. Asphalt Shingles
Asphalt shingle roofs are the most popular roof shingle types due to their affordability, versatility, and low maintenance needs. However, concrete tile roofs typically outperform asphalt shingles and have a significantly longer life span.
Unlike asphalt, concrete is heavy, weighing over 900 pounds per square, and some roofs may require structural reinforcement. Concrete tiles also require more maintenance to extend their life span. The biggest downside to concrete is the up-front cost, which is significantly more than asphalt.
To compare asphalt shingles to other roofing materials, check our guide to asphalt versus metal roofing.
Concrete Tile Roofs vs. Metal Roofing
Similar to tile roofing, there are metal roof pros and cons, and most types of metal roofing are durable, fire-resistant, and long-lasting. Metal requires little maintenance and usually doesn’t require extra roof support like concrete. You can find a metal option in any color or style to match your home’s design.
Metal doesn’t last as long as concrete tile, typically between 40 and 80 years, and is susceptible to corrosion over time from rain and moisture. Depending on the type of metal you choose, metal roofing can cost more than concrete tiles, especially if you choose copper. Another disadvantage is noise. Metal roofing may require extra insulation to block out unwanted noise.
Concrete tile roofs are a big investment, especially for higher-quality profiles. If your roof requires additional support, it can increase the project’s total cost. Properly maintaining a concrete tile roof can outlast most other materials but requires a long-term commitment.
If you’ve decided on concrete tile roofing, we recommend getting several quotes from local roofing contractors who specialize in concrete roofing.
Concrete Tile Roof FAQ
What climate is best for concrete tile roofs?
Concrete tile roofs are popular in warm climates such as California and Florida, but they’re not limited to these regions. Following specific installation precautions, homeowners can use this material in colder or freeze-thaw cycling regions.
How much does a concrete tile roof cost?
A concrete tile roof costs between $7 and $19 per square foot fully installed. On a 1,500-square-foot roof, homeowners can expect to pay $10,500 to $28,500 without additional structural support.
How long do concrete tile roofs last?
A concrete tile roof can last 50 to 100 years or longer. Proper maintenance can extend your roof’s life span.
Do concrete tile roofs need to be sealed?
Sealing isn’t always required. There are sealants available to help waterproof your roof.
Can you walk on concrete tile roofs?
You risk breaking tiles by walking on your roof. If you need to walk across the roof, walk only across reinforced sections.