Tile Roof vs. Metal Roof: What Are the Differences?

Tile roof

While metal roofing hasn’t been around nearly as long as tile, there is something to be said about the nostalgic sound of rain hitting a tin roof. Tile and metal roofs fall at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to structural weight, but these two roofing materials are the most energy-efficient on the market. 

We examined these two environmentally friendly roofing materials, considering factors like cost, durability, weather performance, maintenance, and more to help you decide which material is best for your budget and home. 

In this article, we’ll cover:

What is Tile Roofing?

Tile Roof
Photo credit: Artur Pawlak | Pixabay

Civilizations have used tile as a roofing material since 10,000 BC. From basic to advanced varieties, tile roofs provide a distinct mix of style, durability, and function. These roofs comprise clay, slate, or concrete, offering a unique, upscale aesthetic. 

Roofing tiles hang in overlapping parallel rows to form a watertight seal. Varieties are recyclable, non-combustible, and more durable than other roofing products. Tile roofs can easily last over 100 years, and many manufacturers offer a 50-year warranty. 

What is Metal Roofing?

Metal Roof
Photo credit: sailormn34 | Pixabay

Metal roofing is a broad category covering a range of materials and styles. Metals like aluminum, zinc, tin, and galvanized steel are cost-effective and low-maintenance options, while copper offers a unique appearance for a high-end metal roof. Metal roofs last between 40 to 80 years and require very little maintenance.

What Are the Differences Between Tile Roofing and Metal Roofing? 

Materials factor into many aspects of your roofing decisions, affecting appearance, durability, weight, cost, maintenance, and even property value. Both metal and tile roofs provide several advantages and disadvantages. 

Style

Tile Roofing

Tile roofs complement many architectural styles. These roofs often draw on Spanish influences in the U.S., using terracotta tiles as the base materials. Other options include Italian and Mediterranean influences

Roofing tiles offer traditional, elegant, and upscale aesthetics with unlimited design opportunities, including profile heights, colors, textures, and accent additions. Homeowners also have the option of installing painted tiles. However, this adds a layer of routine maintenance requiring frequent monitoring and touch-ups. 

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs have more design limitations than other roofing materials. While the industry has come a long way from the standard flat design, transforming metal roofs with various textures and finishes, there is still a long way to go to match the aesthetics of other options. 

Metal roofs offer fewer color options than tile. The biggest drawback of metal roofs is their inability to distinguish themselves as anything other than metal. There are two dominant styles of metal roofing, standing seam and metal shingles. 

Standing Seam

Standing seam roofing systems are extremely easy to install, comprising an underlayment with large, vertical metal roofing panels joined by interlocking seams.    

Metal Shingles

Metal shingles mimic the aesthetics of other, more traditional, roofing materials like asphalt, slate, or wood shake; however, there is no denying it is metal. 

Cost

Tile Roofing

Tiles are an expensive roofing choice, but a long-lasting one. The average cost to install a concrete tile roof is $24,000, including labor and materials. While concrete tiles cost less without labor, their weight and difficult installation drive up costs.  

Cost of Materials Per Square FootNational Average With Labor
Clay Tiles$8 to $20$24,500
Slate$7 to $20$17,170
Concrete Tiles$4 to $10$24,000

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs can offer a cost-effective alternative to tile roofs depending on the material. There is a large price disparity associated with metal roofing because of the cost of different roofing materials. High-end copper roofs cost significantly more than steel roofing. On average, metal roofs cost $22,000.

Cost of Materials Per Square FootNational Average With Labor
Standing Seam$3 to $20$29,000
Zinc$6 to $10$39,000
Copper$9 to $20$51,600
Metal Shingles$3 to $20$29,000
Galvanized Steel Shingles$3 to $8$21,000
Painted Aluminum Shingles$2 to $4$22,000
Tin Shingles$3 to $14$24,000

Durability

Tile Roofing

Roofing tiles are one of the most durable materials. Depending on your climate, clay and concrete tiles can last well over 100 years, while slate tiles last between 60 to 150 years.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are durable, surviving extreme environments. These roofs last between 40 to 80 years and require very little maintenance.

Weather Performance

Tile Roofing

Roofing tiles can withstand constant salt exposure and high winds. These roofs are extremely fire resistant, making them a popular choice for homes in California, dry southern regions, and hurricane-prone tropical climates. 

The density and durability of tile allow these roofs to perform equally well in cold climates. They can support large amounts of snow and ice and withstand extreme temperature fluctuations, constant freeze/thaw cycles, and hail.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs can stand up to almost anything Mother Nature throws their way, including heavy rains, snow, and ice. However, hail can dent metal panels leaving a pitted exterior. 

These roofs receive the highest fire rating, Class A. They are non-combustible, will not burn, and can withstand high winds, making them a superb choice for fire- or hurricane-prone regions.

Some metal materials like steel, aluminum, zinc, and copper are prone to expansion and contraction, known as oil canning, during seasons with extreme temperature fluctuations. The constant movement of the metal loosens seams and sealants, causing leaks. Four-season climates can combat oil canning by having roofers professionally install a thicker-gauged metal. 

Other metal varieties, like steel, cannot withstand constant moisture or salt exposure, making them a poor choice for moist or coastal climates. These roofing systems are susceptible to corrosion and will crack, rust, deteriorate, and peel, leaving an unattractive appearance. 

Noise

Tile Roofing

Tile is the quietest roofing material on the market. They absorb sound and are naturally noise-dampening

Metal Roofing

Rain hitting metal is a very distinctive sound. Metal roofing systems are the noisiest materials. However, professional roofers can install noise-dampening materials to help lessen the noise, including underlayment, wood decking, and attic insulation. 

Weight

Tile Roofing

Roofing tiles are heavy and require a skilled contractor to help you determine the carrying capacity of your home. Many roofs require additional structural support

Metal Roofing

Metal is the lightest roofing material and will work on most structures, including low-slope or flat roofs. 

Installation

Tile Roofing

Roofing tiles require highly specialized installation to create the overlapping pattern and design aesthetics. 

Metal Roofing

Both metal shingles and standing seam designs require specialized installation. Like tile roofs, metal roofing is one of the most difficult materials to install.

Maintenance and Repairs 

Maintenance and Repairs Tile Roof
Photo credit: Mario Ohibsky | Pixabay

Tile Roofing

When considering their durability, tile roofs are relatively low maintenance. Be sure to perform an annual inspection and cleaning, checking for broken or missing tiles. Tiles require more cleaning than other roofing materials. When cleaning your tile roof, never use a pressure washer. Instead, wash the surface with gentle, low-pressure rinsing and mild cleaning detergents. 

Replace broken roofing tiles as soon as possible to prevent widespread damage. To avoid cracking, never walk on your tile roof, and be careful not to drop heavy tools or objects on its surface. 

Metal Roofing 

Maintenance and Repairs Metal Roof

Metal roofing is fairly easy to maintain and considered low maintenance. It resists moss and algae growth and simply requires an annual cleaning. 

While durable, the color of your roof will dull after the first couple of years, making it impossible to color match repairs. Metal roofing systems are expensive to repair, often requiring an entire panel to be replaced over small patches. 

Energy Efficiency 

Tile Roofing

Tile and metal roofs are two of the most energy-efficient options. Roofing tiles have qualities that significantly reduce energy use, including: 

  • Natural thermal resistance
  • Natural airspace around installed tiles creates a thermal barrier reducing heat transfer by 70%

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs reflect heat and reduce energy costs. Known as cool roofs, many metal shingle varieties are factory coated with specialized reflective paint that increases thermal emittance. Untreated metal shingles and panels reflect the sun but do not emit heat well, making them hotter than painted options.  

Environmentally Friendly

Tile Roofing

Roofing tiles are recyclable and durable, comprising raw materials without added preservatives. Production waste is immediately recycled back into the manufacturing process, eliminating landfill waste. 

Metal Roofing

Like tile roofs, metal roofing outperforms many roofing materials with durability and recyclability. Metal roofs are 100% recyclable and many metal panels and shingles comprise up to 40% of recycled materials. 

Impact on Property Value

Regardless of material, a new roof adds approximately $15,000 to the sale price of your home, and  33% of Realtors recommend replacing your roof before listing your home.

Insurance Benefit

The condition of your roof plays the largest role in determining your insurance rate, and lower rates almost always accompany a new roof

In most states, metal roofs have a marginally lower rate than tile roofs. While both materials are durable, fire resistant, and pest and rot resistant, tile roofs require slightly more maintenance than metal roof systems but are less expensive to repair. 

Signs You Need to Replace Your Roof

Signs You Need to Replace Your Roof
Photo credit: Pete | Pixabay

Watch for these visible clues and telltale signs it is time to replace your roof:

  • Damaged, loose, curled, missing, or mossy shingles
  • Visible leaks or water damage
  • Damage or discoloration around vents, chimneys, or skylights 
  • Grit (flakes of asphalt shingles) in your gutters
  • Sagging areas 
  • Your roof is over 20 years old
  • Neighbors are having their roofs replaced

FAQ About the Difference Between Tile Roofing and Metal Roofing

How do I soundproof my roof? 

Many roofing materials like tile provide sound-dampening qualities. For noisy materials like metal roofing, there are several methods that can reduce decibel levels.

Be sure your contractor specializes in metal roofing: Panels that are installed incorrectly can catch and lift from the wind causing sound and long-term damage. 
Install quality underlayment: Glass fiber or wool blanket underlayments reduce vibrations and noise.
Install attic insulation: Professional spray foam insulation reduces energy costs and dampens sounds coming from your roof. 

Can I DIY install a roof system?

No matter how easy YouTube makes it seem, roofing is one DIY project you should never tackle by yourself. Roofing requires expertise and a lot of hard work. Here are some reasons to leave roofing to the pros:

• Safety
• Warranties
• Tools
• Quality

How long does paint last on a roof?

Painting metal or tile roofing materials can do more than just boost curb appeal and add to the design aesthetics of your home. Roofing paint prevents leaks and even reduces your energy bill. However, it also adds a layer or maintenance to your home. 

Unlike exterior paint, which has a lifespan of around three years, roofing paint lasts approximately 10-15 years before you will need to have it redone. 

How to Decide Between Tile Roofing and Metal Roofing

Tile and metal couldn’t be more different in terms of design aesthetics, but these two roofing materials are energy-efficient, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly. Your roof is one of the most important components of your home, responsible for up to 40% of your home’s curb appeal.

 With two green roofing solutions and more than enough reasons to install a new roof, you cannot go wrong with a metal or tile system. Consult a LawnStarter roofing professional to get started and discuss the best options for your style and budget.

Main photo credit: Tan2 | Pixabay

Kimberly Magerl

Kimberly Magerl

Born and raised in Springfield, Illinois, Kimberly Magerl enjoys growing fruits and vegetables in her garden. When she isn't gardening, Kimberly enjoys trying new recipes and cooking with her home-grown herbs.