In certain parts of the country, ceramic tile is a popular material choice for residential roofing. Ceramic (also called clay) tiles make sense for many homeowners as a product selection.
This product family blends with many architectural styles and provides a long-lasting roofing solution.
For thousands of years, there weren't many options (the first clay tile roof dates back to 10,000 BC). If you wanted a roof with barrel tiles, you used ceramic roofing.
The invention of metal presses and roll-formers changed that. Today, metal roofs share many similarities with clay tiles while offering homeowners some distinct advantages.
Similarities Between Metal Roofs That Look Like Tile and Clay Tiles
Perhaps the most apparent similarity between tile-shaped metal roof products and actual clay tiles is the appearance of the rounded shape of the profile.
However, more important than appearance, both materials are considered long-life roof systems making them excellent options for longevity and value.
They are both also more resistant to pests and birds than shingles; 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.
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 offers homeowners several critical advantages over clay tiles.
Metal roofs simply offer homeowners more color choices than ceramic tiles. From bold reds and blues to earth tones, the options with metal roofing are simply more plentiful than what ceramic tiles offer.
So, for homeowners concerned with curb appeal, metal offers flexibility that clay tiles simply can’t.
Metal panels also weigh considerably less than clay tiles. Clay tiles typically weigh between 9 ½-12 lbs. per square foot, while metal panels weigh approximately one lb. per sq. foot. This weight difference significantly impacts building infrastructure, shipping, installation, and cost.
Because they weigh approximately 90% less than clay tiles, metal roofing panels require much less building infrastructure.
In contrast, ceramic tile roofs need extensive support. Ceramic tiles typically require the application of vertical and horizontal wood battens between the underlayment and tiles—this framework results in extra material and labor costs.
Another big difference involves the frequency of roof replacement applications. Due to their lightweight, metal roof panels represent an easy recover application over asphalt shingles.
In contrast, clay tile products rarely find their way on top of existing shingle applications. It’s not that the product can’t function in recover applications. Instead, it simply comes down to a matter of weight because many existing roof structures can’t support the weight of the tiles.
Note, if you’re considering recovering existing roofing material, you should always check with a local engineer before proceeding to determine structural integrity and loading abilities.
Installation Speed & Safety
Metal tile-shaped panels install much more quickly compared to clay tiles. While there are a few different sizes of clay tiles, most fall in the 13” x 16” size. In contrast, each metal panel covers three feet wide by 1’ tall.
Consequently, metal roofing offers significant savings on installation labor over clay tile roofs.
Between driver shortages and rising fuel costs, transportation costs continue to escalate. As transportation costs increase, we’re seeing consumers question freight costs and take more steps to reduce freight than they did in the past.
Since metal panels weigh 90% less than concrete tiles, the freight savings can be substantial.
Another advantage of metal panels is flexibility. Clay tiles are generally not recommended in regions with repetitive freeze-thaw cycles. In contrast, metal panels can be installed in any climate.
Lower slope projects are also better suited for metal panels than ceramic tiles. For example, the minimum recommended slope for clay tile falls in the 3-4:12 pitch range, while pitches as low as 1 ½”:12 (with the use of tape sealant) are typical for metal panels.
Both Metal and clay roofs offer homeowners good durability. However, clay tiles tend to break in storms with impact from other forces and have lower wind resistance.
In summary, metal roofing tells a great story compared to ceramic tile products. You can see similarities and differences clearly in this table by the Metal Roofing Alliance, where they compare various roof construction materials across several categories like actual cost, expected lifespan, maintenance, and more.
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. Simply open the “product” filter button and select Met-Tile to see a few of our favorite completed projects.
- Visit our website to learn more about our metal tile panel called Met-Tile.
- Simply contact us. We’re always here to help!
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 14 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.