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

house with asphalt shingles

Shingles are the most popular roofing material in the U.S., but worldwide, tile roofs are actually more common. Developed by the Ancient Greeks to cover their most important buildings, architects joke that tile roofs are shingle’s cooler, older sister. But when comparing a tile roof vs. a shingle roof, what are the differences?

We broke down the two popular roofing materials, looking at 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 Roofing
Photo credit: Wikimedia | CC-BY-SA-3.0

Basic and advanced roofing materials provide a distinct mix of style, durability, and function. Civilizations have used tile roofs since around 10,000 BC. These roofs are similar to shingle roofs and comprise clay, slate, or concrete

Roofing tiles hang in overlapping parallel rows to form a watertight seal. Tiles are visually appealing, environmentally friendly, and more durable than asphalt shingles. Tile roofs can easily last over 100 years, and many manufacturers offer a 50-year warranty. 

What is Shingle Roofing?

Shingle Roofing
Photo credit: Pixabay | Pexels

Found in 80% of homes, shingles are the most popular type of roofing material in the U.S. Shingle roofing is budget-friendly, easy-to-install, and low-maintenance

Roofing shingles vary in materials and thickness, with the most popular composition being fiberglass and asphalt for their durability. Each shingle is a small, flexible, rectangular piece of material installed in overlapping rows to keep out water. 

What Are the Differences Between Tile Roofing and Shingle Roofing? 

The key differences between tile roofing and shingle roofing are the materials used to construct them. Materials factor into many aspects of your roofing decisions, affecting appearance, durability, weight, cost, maintenance, and even property value. 

Style

Tile Roofing

Tile roofs complement many architectural styles, providing more aesthetic options than shingle roofs. 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. Additionally, homeowners have the option of installing painted tiles. However, this adds a layer of routine maintenance requiring frequent monitoring and touch-ups. 

Shingle Roofing

Asphalt shingle roofs come in a variety of shapes, textures, and colors, making them incredibly versatile. The flexible materials boost curb appeal and allow for easy mixing and matching. Aside from traditional shingles, asphalt shingles also come in three-tab and architectural varieties. 

Three-Tab Shingles

Three-tab shingles have a basic and flat appearance. They are cut to look like traditional shingles but are easier to install, making them the cheapest shingle option.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles are thicker, creating a layered, textured roof that is more durable and visually interesting

Cost

Tile Roofing

Tiles are one of the most expensive roofing materials on the market. The average cost to install a clay tile roof is $24,500, including labor and materials. Concrete tiles offer many identical benefits, including clay’s longevity. While concrete tiles cost less without labor they are heavy and difficult to install, driving 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

Shingle Roofing

Shingle roofs are a cost-effective alternative to tile roofs. Roofing shingles are the most popular roofing materials costing an average of $128 to $190 per 100 square feet

Cost of Materials Per Square FootNational Average With Labor
Asphalt Shingles$1.75 to $5.50$9,056
Three-Tab Shingles$1 to $3$7,500
Architectural Shingles$4.50 to $7$13,000

Durability

Tile Roofing

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

Shingle Roofing

Traditional asphalt shingles and architectural shingles last approximately 20 years while economical three-tab varieties last between seven to 15 years

Weather Performance

Tile Roofing

Tile roofs are popular in California, dry southern regions, and tropical climates like Florida. Roofing tiles can withstand constant salt exposure and are extremely fire resistant. Additionally, the weight of the materials can withstand high winds in hurricane-prone locations. 

Tile roofs perform equally well in cold climates. The density and durability of the roofing materials allows it to support large amounts of snow and ice. Slate tiles can withstand extreme temperature fluctuations, constant freeze/thaw cycles, and hail.

Shingle Roofing

Shingles are an all-weather roofing material suitable for many styles of roof. Warm regions, like the Southeast and other tropical climates, benefit from the reflective outer layer. Many shingle variations reflect the sun, keeping your home cooler. 

Traditional shingles are susceptible to damage from hail and high winds. However, the roofing material allows snow and ice to slide off your roof’s surface, making it a good choice for colder regions.

Three-Tab Shingles

While they make an economical choice, three-tab shingles are only rated for winds up to 60 mph and are prone to damage.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles are more weather-resistant and can withstand extremely high winds up to 120 mph, making them a better choice for hurricane-prone regions like Florida and Louisiana. 

Weight

Tile Roofing

While there are some lighter-weight varieties, overall, roofing tiles are heavy. A roofing contractor can help you determine the carrying capacity of your home and whether your roof will need additional structural support

Shingle Roofing

Shingles are lightweight and will work on most structures. 

Installation

Tile Roofing

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

Shingle Roofing

Shingle roofing is easy and inexpensive to install.

Maintenance and Repairs 

Both tile and shingle roofing are relatively low maintenance. You should perform an annual inspection and cleaning. Check for broken, cracked, or missing tiles or shingles. 

When cleaning your roof, never use a pressure washer, no matter its material. Instead, wash the surface with gentle, low-pressure rinsing and mild cleaning detergents. 

Tile Roofing

Replace broken roofing tiles as soon as possible to prevent widespread roof damage. Tiles require slightly more cleaning than other roofing materials. Additionally, to prevent cracking, never walk on your tile roof

Shingle Roofing 

Shingles are very easy to maintain, and most resist algae growth. Avoid shingle-rot by regularly inspecting and cleaning moss growth, especially in moist climates like the Northeast. 

Roofing shingles do not show dirt as readily as other roofing materials. However, shingles can fade with time and sun exposure, making it impossible to color match replacement shingles

Energy Efficiency 

Tile Roofing

Tile roofs are more energy-efficient than shingle roofs. 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%

Shingle Roofing

Many shingle varieties, especially darker colors, absorb heat, reducing the energy efficiency of your home. However, energy-efficient shingles, or cool roofs, can repel the sun through solar reflectance and thermal emittance, reducing energy costs. 

Environmentally Friendly

Tile Roofing

Roofing tiles are durable and sustainable. Tiles comprise raw materials without preservatives. Production waste can be recycled back into the manufacturing process without adding to landfills. 

Shingle Roofing

Shingles are primarily made from asphalt derived from petroleum. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. produces 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste annually. 

While some shingles are recycled into asphalt pavement, the vast majority sit in landfills, releasing carcinogenic hydrocarbons into the ground. 

Effect on Property Value

About 33% of Realtors recommend replacing your roof before listing your home. A new roof adds approximately $15,000 to the sale price of your home, no matter the material. While tile roofs can have a greater effect on property value, any new roof adds value to a home.

Insurance Benefit

Lower rates almost always accompany a new roof regardless of material. The condition of your roof plays the largest role in determining your insurance rate. 

In most states, tile roofs have a marginally lower rate than shingle roofs because of factors like longevity, fire resistance, and pest and rot resistance. Conversely, a slightly higher rate accompanies shingle roofing materials because of their decay rates and shorter lifespans

Signs You Need to Replace Your Roof

Visible clues can help you prevent leaks before they happen. Watch for these telltale signs it is time to replace your roof:

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

FAQ About the Difference Between Tile Roofing and Shingle Roofing

What factors should I consider when choosing roofing materials? 

It would be easy to choose your roofing material based on aesthetics alone. However, be sure to consider functional factors to ensure the most energy-efficiency and best performance, including: 

• Climate
• Roof design and slope
• Aesthetics
• Budget
• Warranties and durability

Can you do a DIY roof installation?

DIY home improvement projects can be fun, rewarding, and less expensive than hiring a professional. However, 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

Do I have to replace my roof before I list my home?

While 33% of Realtors recommend replacing your roof before selling your home, you do not have to replace your roof if it is still in relatively good condition. However, keep in mind that it is possible to recover up to 100% of your investment when installing a new roof. You should replace your roof before listing your home if it is nearing its 20-year lifespan or in poor condition.

 

How to Decide Between a Tile Roof and Shingle Roof

The style of your roof and the materials used to construct it are largely determined by your location. According to experts, your roof accounts for 40% of your home’s curb appeal. 

A roof is far more than just tiles or shingles; it’s one of the most important components of your home. Consult a LawnStarter roofing professional to discuss the best options for your style and budget.

Main photo credit: Phil Hearing | Unsplash

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.