Posted by McElroy Metal ● October 10, 2018

Metal Roofs that Look Like Tile – How Do They Compare to Clay Tile?

When it’s time for residential homeowners to replace their roof one of the common choices is ceramic tile. Tile adds to the aesthetics of the home, blending in with a variety of architecture and available in many colors while providing a long-lasting roofing solution.  Metal roofs that look like tile share many visual similarities with clay tiles but offer homeowners some distinct advantages over the most traditional tile construction material.

Similarities Between Metal Roofs That Look Like Tile and Clay Tiles

met tilePerhaps the most obvious similarity between metal roofs that look like tile and actual clay tile is the appearance. Available in a variety of finishes and color options, metal roofs surpass clay tile for curb appeal and aesthetics.

However, more important than appearance, both materials are considered long life roof systems making them excellent options for longevity and value. They are also both more resistant to insects and birds than shingles; and, while it can vary depending on style and other factors, the cost between both materials tends to be very similar. They are also both highly recyclable products.

Both materials are similar even when comparing installation because both materials require a knowledgeable quality installer to install properly. So, with so many similarities what are the differences?

Differences Between Metal Roofs That Look Like Tile and Clay Tiles

Despite so many similarities, there are significant differences between metal and clay roofs. In fact, metal roofing offer homeowners more flexibility and durability than clay tiles.

For instance, while both clay and metal are attractive roofing options, metal roofs offer homeowners more selection in color. So, for homeowners concerned with curb appeal, metal offers flexibility that clay tiles can’t.

JPAGE-Commercial-MetTileRefugio-0270Another way in which metal offers more flexibility is in their weight. Metal panels weigh considerably less than clay tile; clay tiles typically weight between 9 ½-12 lbs. per square foot while metal panels weigh approximately 1 lb. per sq. foot. This difference in weight has some significant impacts on shipping, installation, and cost.

One impact of the weight difference is that metal roofing panels require less building infrastructure to support and are typically an easy roof replacement over shingles. Due to the weight of clay tiles, existing roof structures are often unable to support them. Note, you should always check with a local engineer before proceeding to determine structural integrity and loading abilities.

Because of the weight of clay tiles, they typically require the use of vertical and horizontal wood battens to be applied between the underlayment and tiles.  This adds the material cost for the battens, the labor to install them, AND means that the screws used to install the wood battens have penetrated the underlayment and introduced the potential for a leak at each location.

Metal tiles also install much more quickly (so labor savings!) compared to clay tiles because each panel is three feet wide and runs from eave to ridge. This uniformity cuts down on the adjustments that need to be made, which is ideal because one of the downsides of clay tiles is that the dust created when cutting tiles is known to cause cancer. Clay tile installation guides carry warnings about this. This installation guide carries this warning on page 7, “WARNING: Crystalline silica is a substance known to cause cancer. Other chemicals contained in these products are known to cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive harm. Please refer to Federal and State OSHA requirements for proper compliance.”

milan tile graphic

Metal panels, again because of weight, are easier and less expensive to ship than clay tiles and they are easier, and safer, for contractors to handle during installation.

Another advantage of metal panels is their flexibility in where they can be used. Clay tiles are not generally recommended in regions with repetitive freeze-thaw cycles (January mean temperature below 25 degrees). Metal panels have no restrictions on where they can be used.

Metal panels can also be installed on steeper roofs. Minimum slope for clay tile falls in the 3-4:12 pitch range while some metal tiles can be installed to pitches as low as 1 ½”:12 when sealant is used.

Metal roofs also offer homeowners more durability. Metal is more durable than clay tiles in general, but specifically, clay tiles tend to break in storms with impact from other forces and have lower wind resistance. Additionally, it is almost impossible to “walk” on clay tiles which can make removing debris and performing routine maintenance difficult.

You can see all of these similarities and differences clearly in this table by the Metal Roofing Alliance where they compare various roof construction material across a number of categories like true cost, expected lifespan, maintenance, and more. Check it out!

What to Learn More?

If you’d like to see a variety of different options all in one place, check out our Residential Photo Library here. The product used in each application is noted on the photo. Our metal tile panel is called Met Tile, and you can check it out here (check out your color options by linking to or including color selection in copy).

residential metal roof distributor

Learn everything you need to know about Residential Metal Roofing. Check out our metal roofing resources for inspiration and answers to your questions.

About McElroy Metal

Since 1963, McElroy Metal has served the construction industry with quality products and excellent customer service. The family-owned components manufacturer is headquartered in Bossier City, La., and has 13 manufacturing facilities across the United States. Quality, service and performance have been the cornerstone of McElroy Metal’s business philosophy and have contributed to the success of the company through the years. As a preferred service provider, these values will continue to be at the forefront of McElroy Metal’s model along with a strong focus on the customer.

Topics: Education, Metal Roofing, FAQ, Met-Tile

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