Types of Roofing Tile

Updated February 21, 2017

Roof tile is a finish material used to cover the structural roof framing in a residential or commercial building. There are many different types of tile available, and each offers its own unique features and benefits. When comparing types of roofing tile consider factors such as cost, lifespan, design and maintenance.


Roofing tile is used to protect the home from exterior elements such as rain, snow, hail, wind and sun. It helps keep the structural framing system dry and covered so it is not damaged or compromised. Depending on the installation, tiles can improve roof insulation levels and help keep the home cool in hot climates. Many types of roof tile are also chosen for their aesthetic appeal, particularly for Spanish or Mission style homes.


Traditional roof tiles were made from natural clay baked to remove moisture. Newer cement versions offer a similar design, but are often more affordable than those made from clay. Both clay and concrete tiles are often made in a distinctive "U" or "S" shape, though some versions are also flat and designed to interlock. Slate roof tiles are made from natural stone, and are often chosen for their appearance and style.


Tile roofing is very versatile and long-lasting. Clay roof tiles can often last for centuries with little to no maintenance, while newer concrete or slate versions will almost always outlast other roofing materials. These tiles are fire-resistant and easy to repair when damaged by wind or other elements. Most tile roofing materials are left unfinished, and will not require painting to maintain their appearance.


One of the primary drawbacks to roofing tile is its relatively heavy weight, especially when compared to wood or asphalt shingles. Most buildings cannot withstand the weight of these tiles unless they are specially built to receive them. Tiles are also more expensive than many other materials, though concrete is often half the price of clay or slate. Clay tiles are too fragile to walk on, so repairs and installation should be performed by professionals to prevent damage.


Most roofing tiles are installed over roof sheathing and a moisture barrier like building paper or felt. Flat tiles can be installed directly to the roof deck, similar to shingles. Rounded clay or concrete tiles require wooden battens or steel lathes for installation. Each unit is alternated (facing up or down) so that the tiles interlock, producing a watertight roof surface. Tiles that face down are anchored to the lathe or batten, which is installed perpendicular to the eaves along the roof surface.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.