Selecting the Right Roof Tiles

Tuesday, 16th April 2024

There is a huge choice of materials on the market, from traditional thatch, the ever-popular clay and concrete tiles, natural and man-made slate tiles, ashphalt covering, wooden, metal, green roofing, not to mention the solar panelled options.  However, for most self builders, the popular choice remains tiles and slate.

Clay and Concrete Tiles

Historically, the most popular choice of materials for roof tiles was clay, and hand-made clay tiles are still available, albeit at a price.  In recent times, the use of concrete has become more widespread.  Manufacturers typically will guarantee the tiles for 30 years or more, and time has told us that the service life of concrete files can be considerably longer.

Plain tiles, whether clay or concrete, tend to be the most expensive options, due mainly to the increased labour costs involved in having to lay and fix the amount of battening required for the overlapping tiles.


Today, most natural slates in use are from China, Brazil and Spain rather than the traditional, more expensive, Welsh equivalents.  Man-made slates are also available and though no cheaper than natural slates, they are perhaps slightly more durable.  Reconstituted slate tiles are generally made up from recycled slate spoil.  They are a cheap alternative to a genuine slate roof, although far less durable.  Ultra-violet light affects the resin used, which can cause the tile to become brittle and break up.

Ashphalt Shingles

The base materials for ashphalt shingles are generally either organic or fibreglass.

Organic shingles can be made from materials such as waste paper, cellulose, or wood fibre and are cheaper than tiles.  The shingles come in many colours, they are durable and manufactured under strict guidelines.  The downside is that they are vulnerable to ice and high winds.  Rolled asphalt is a cheaper option; it can be rolled over the roof and then simply nailed securely in place.


Cedar would seem to be the most popular choice of wood.  Obviously, an expensive choice of material, though the overall effect should be stunning.  Man-made simulated wooden tiles are also available.


Traditionally a material for industrial and commercial buildings, metal roofing is becoming more popular with home builders.  Generally made of galvanized steel; it is fire-resistant, oblivious to insects and quick and easy to install.  It is more expensive that ashphalt composite and requires installation by highly experienced installers.

Green Roofing

A roof covered in vegetation of your choice.  Planted over a waterproof membrane, it will require a root barrier, adequate drainage and an irrigation system.  Planning permission is not required, but it may pay to check with the local council before planting your cabbages!  They are eco-friendly, good for keeping down heating bills, and pleasing on the eye – what’s not to like?

Obviously, time will be well-spent on researching roofing products beforehand, so that informed decisions can be made about which product would best suit you, and will meet your expectations now and in the future.