Concrete vs. Clay roof tiles – which are superior?

Concrete vs. Clay roof tiles – which are superior?

At Roundhay Roofing, we’ve successfully designed and installed many concrete and clay tile roofs over the years.

We’re unbiased when it comes to the argument of which is best, so we’re going to go through the differences between concrete and clay tiles to hopefully help you decide which roofing material is right for you.

Concrete tiles

Concrete roof tiles are made from a mixture of sand, water and cement. They get their shape and their rigidity through a process that involves heating the tiles and exposing them to a high pressure. Once this process has been completed, a concrete tile is water resistant, extremely tough and the outer material can be painted.

Concrete tiles come in all shapes and sizes. You can buy pre-made tiles, or you can have bespoke tiles made. The latter is preferable where you have a roof with rare characteristics.

Clay tiles

Clay roof tiles are made from clay and water. They get their shape, their rigidity and their density through a heating process, much like concrete tiles. However unlike concrete, clay tile density is determined by the length of time the tile is exposed to a high temperature. A clay tile cannot be painted like a concrete tile, but there are more baking colours available.

Clay tiles come in all shapes and sizes. The most common colour is Terra-Cotta. The heating process chemically bonds the pigment to the clay, so there’s no fading.

What are the primary differences between the two?

  1. Water absorption

Most concrete tiles have a water absorption rate of around 13% while most clay tiles have a water absorption rate of around 6%. So, clay tiles develop less mildew over time.

  1. Crack and shatter-resistance

Clay tiles are more likely to crack or shatter than concrete tiles, but only in colder climates, which is why countries with warmer climates like Spain are happy to use clay tiles.

  1. Weight

Concrete tiles weigh a lot more than clay tiles – approximately 40% more. Due to this, concrete tiles are only suitable for roof structures that have a high level of reinforcement.

  1. Cost

Clay tiles are more expensive than concrete – approximately 20% more. However, clay is better suited to most applications which is why despite the extra cost, clay is more popular.


Clay titles and concrete tiles both have their place. Concrete is less expensive than clay but it is around 40% heavier, so it isn’t the best material for applications with little structural support. A survey is recommended to find out which is best for you – for a free quote on your roof and expert advice, please call 0113 293 4038 or click here to email us>

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