Asphalt shingles are still the most popular roofing material in the US, but other materials are gaining market share and giving home and business owners new options. Concrete tiles are one of those interesting and attractive newer choices.
Introduction to Asphalt Shingles and Concrete Roofing Tiles
This roofing guide compares traditional shingles and concrete roofing tiles along with pros and cons for each plus their costs. You might also be interested in our comparison and roofing cost guide for asphalt shingles vs. asphalt roll roofing.
What are Asphalt Shingles?
These are also known as asphalt composite shingles because of their layered construction which includes:
- A base layer of felt or fiberglass mat
- Saturated with asphalt to be durable and weatherproof
- Covered with one (three-tab) or more (architectural) top layers of asphalt
- Coated in colored granules of ceramic, stone, quartz or another mineral
Shingles made with fiberglass mat are typically also called fiberglass shingles.
All shingles are suitable for sloped roofs beginning at a 3:12 pitch. Shingling starts at the lower edge of the roof and progresses to the peak. A starter layer of rolled shingle material is often installed first, with the first layer of individual shingles overlapping it. This gives the roof edge better protection from moisture.
Building codes in most areas allow for second layer of shingles to be installed on top of the first layer when it wears out, but the roof will have to first be cleared of both layers of shingles when its time again for new shingles.
Asphalt shingles are the market leader for their outstanding blend of affordability, weather protection and durability.
What are Concrete Roof Tiles?
The construction of concrete roofing tiles varies slightly by manufacturer, but most include:
- A blend of water, natural sand, crushed-stone sand, cement and tint
- Formation into tiles in aluminum molds or extruded onto a conveyor belt and cut to length
- Edges on rounded tiles are rolled to create interlocking joints
- Nailing holes
- Drying and curing in an industrial oven with strictly controlled temperature
- Applying sealer to the top of the tiles
- Visually inspecting all tiles and testing random tiles prior to being bundled for shipping
Concrete tiles are available in three basic profiles: flat, low profile and high profile. The surface can be smooth or textured. Styles include those that look like traditional clay tiles and tiles formed to mimic wood shakes.
If you live where winters bring freezing temperatures, make sure the tiles you select are manufactured and rated for freeze/thaw cycles (ASTM C1492).
Pros and Cons of Asphalt Shingles and Concrete Roof Tiles
Each of these roofing materials has its strengths and weaknesses. They’re listed individually and then summarized in the table below.
Asphalt shingle pros:
- Generally more affordable than steel, concrete and slate, with shingles in a range of prices to fit most budgets
- Good variety of style and color
- Suitable for most climates
- Durability of 15-30 years based on quality and local climate
- Wind-resistant shingles available (up to about 150mph)
- Low maintenance requirement
Asphalt shingle cons:
- Don’t last as long in hot, sunny areas of the West and Southwest
- Must be installed when temperatures are well above freezing, so shingles aren’t brittle
- Not suitable for roof pitches less than 3:12
- Not as durable as steel, concrete or stone
- Proper installation is essential to proper performance
Compare those asphalt shingle pros and cons with those for concrete roofing tiles.
Concrete roof tile pros:
- More affordable than clay tiles and slate
- Durability of 30 to 60 years
- Variety of styles and colors
- Reflective coatings can reduce heat penetration into the home
- Excellent resistance to fire, insects and hail
- Withstand wind to 150mph where properly installed
- Low maintenance requirement
Concrete roof tile cons:
- Higher rate of water absorption than clay makes them susceptible to mold in wet climates unless treated to resist it
- Not all concrete tiles are made to handle the freeze/thaw cycles of very cold climates
- Color fades more quickly than in clay tiles (while fading changes the appearance, it might not detract from it)
- Specialty tools must be used for cutting and installing
- Very heavy (700-1,200lbs/square) compared to asphalt shingles (150-300lbs/square), so structural reinforcement might be required for the home prior to installation
- Susceptible to leaks when improperly installed
- Experienced, professional installation is extremely important
This table summarizes the key characteristics of asphalt shingles and concrete roof tiles.
|Asphalt Shingles||Concrete Roof Tiles|
|Material cost:||Low to moderate||Moderate to high|
|Install cost:||Low to moderate||Moderate to high|
|Durability:||Good (15-30 years)||Excellent (30-60 years)|
|High wind resistance:||Poor to good||Good|
|Variety:||Good to excellent||Good|
|Removal cost:||Low to moderate||Moderate|
|Two layers permissible:||Yes (per most building codes)||No|
How Much Roofing Material Will You Need?
Giving roof prices is only helpful if you can determine how much material you’ll need.
To figure this, you need the square footage of your home’s footprint. If you have a flat roof, it will require the same amount of roofing as the square footage plus about 10% extra for trimming and to have shingles left over for repairs in the future.
For sloped roofs, take the square footage of your home and use the multiplier chart below. The lower the slope, the less material needed. Note: A 3:12 pitch roof is one that rises 3 inches for every 12 inches it runs toward the peak. If you don’t know the pitch, a “guestimate” will get you in the right ballpark.
- 3:12 – 1.035 (14 degrees)
- 4:12 – 1.055 (18.5 degrees)
- 5:12 – 1.085 (22.5 degrees)
- 6:12 – 1.12 (26.5 degrees)
- 7:12 – 1.16 (30.5 degrees)
- 8:12 – 1.205 (33.75 degrees)
- 9:12 – 1.25 (37 degrees)
- 10:12 – 1.305 (40 degrees)
- 11:12 – 1.36 (42.5 degrees)
- 12:12 – 1.415 (45 degrees)
For example, shingles for a 2,000 square foot home would be determined with these equations factoring in the pitch and 15% extra material:
- 6:12 roof: 2,000 x 1.12 x 1.15 = 2,576 square feet or about 26 squares
- 10:12 roof: 2,000 x 1.305 x 1.15 = 3,001.5 square feet or about 30 squares
Roofing material and installation is estimated by the square where a square is equal to 100 square feet of coverage.
Comparing Asphalt Shingle and Concrete Roof Tile Cost
It can be very difficult to find accurate pricing online because most estimates don’t include all necessary materials, accessories and labor. The estimates below are complete – itemized to show you exactly where your money will go.
Asphalt shingle costs for material and installation:
- Asphalt 30# roofing felt (tar paper) underlayment: $18 to $33/square
- Roofing nails, flashing and additional materials: $6 to $10/square
- Asphalt shingles: $90 to $300/square (with most in the $125 to $200/square range)
- Installation labor: $200 to $325/square
Total asphalt shingle cost: $315 to $670/square (with most jobs $400-$600/square)
- Ridge vent (if none present): $9.00 to $20.00/linear foot
- Starter shingles (if installing the first layer of roofing): $0.60 to $0.85/linear foot
Asphalt shingles vary quite a bit in cost (and quality) between the cheapest and the best. That accounts for the wide range in the price given above.
Concrete roofing tile costs for material and installation:
- Asphalt 30# roofing felt (tar paper) underlayment: $18 to $33/square
- Roofing nails, flashing, wood battens, wall tray/pans and additional materials: $75 to $125/square
- Concrete roofing tiles: $350 to $875/square (with most in the range of $400 to $650/square)
- Installation labor: $300 to $550/square
Total concrete roof tile cost: $650 to $1,525/square (with most jobs $850 to $1,200/square)
Your roofing cost will be affected by who you hire to install the roof. Handymen work relatively cheap, but few have the experience and skill to do the work properly. If they aren’t licensed and insured, you might have no recourse for a poorly done job but to hire a professional roofer to make repairs.
The best approach for asphalt shingles and concrete roof tiles is to request estimates from several licensed roofing contractors. Let them know you’re getting competing estimates. Check references, and ask about the experience of the crew that will do the work.
Roof Design and Roofing Cost
The design of your home’s roof is part of what will determine where on the range of installation costs your job will fall. Single-story homes with four walls and basic roof design are the least costly to shingle. Multiple-story homes with complex roof designs have higher roofing installation costs. The upper stories must be reached with ladders, and there is more trimming and intricate installation work involved. Roofs with a steep pitch are often costlier to roof too because the care and precautions taken for safety may slow down the work.
Asphalt Shingle and Concrete Roof Tile Maintenance
Both materials are fairly low-maintenance. These roof maintenance tips will keep your roof looking and performing as it should.
- Inspect the roof or have it inspected twice a year for damaged or missing shingles or tile, gaps between the roofing and second-story walls and other protrusions and for general signs of wear.
- Inspection the roof after strong storms that bring high winds, large hail or failing debris
- Repair damaged or missing roofing material immediately
- Remove leaves and other debris from the roof to prevent staining and the growth of mold and/or algae
- Ice dams should be removed by a professional roofer for safety considerations and to avoid damaging the roof and causing a leak
- If ice dams develop, it is an indication that your attic needs more insulation
- Make sure your attic is properly vented with ridge vent, soffit vents and gable vents to ensure the best roof longevity
Are you Looking for a Roofer?
If you’re ready to discuss roofing costs with professional roofers, we can help. The quick, convenient service we offer takes the hassle out of getting estimates. Just fill out the short form with a few details about your project, and you’ll receive competitive estimates from some of the top roofing contractors in your area.
They are pre-screened and licensed. There is no cost to you for using the service, and you are not obligated to accept any of the estimates.