What are concrete roof tiles?

What are concrete roof tiles?

Do you ever wonder when were the first concrete roof tiles used? Or if you have never heard about them, would you like to know more about their use and installation?

This is a topic that interests me as I know that clay tiles have been popular for ages. If I’m not guessing too far off, as a common material it might even be one of the first types of tile to be used.

As we know, concrete is made out of cement, sand, rough aggregates, and water. It’s quite heavy material compared to clay.

When were concrete roof tiles first used

Concrete roof tiles were invented in the 19th century. A place called Bavaria seems to have the honor of inventing it.

The product spread in Europe but seems like the UK has the most concrete roof tiles these days. The rest of Europe seems to favor clay tiles more, but I’ve got no real source to have a closer look.

By 1961 8/10 roofs were made out of concrete in the UK and 6/10 in Australia. As you can see in 50-60 years it got quite popular after the wars.

I guess one thing that the concrete tiles have going for themselves is long age and tough material as there are still old buildings and some of them have the original concrete tiles. Some sources promote age up to 30 years and potential for 60 years.

Concrete roof tiles advantages and disadvantages

Roof tiles types

Now that we have a brief history out of the way, let us have a small comparison of clay and concrete products. Roof tile building materials are many, but these are some of the common ones. I’m not going over to anything not resembling concrete as a material.

Clay tile roof

As stated before, clay tile roof construction has a long history. Going quite far in history, talking about 10 000 years so we can speak of traditional here.

Clay roof tiles are usually those bright clay-colored roofing tiles unless something else is painted to look like them. You more than likely know the color.

What comes to mind first, when we are picturing clay tiles, is that wave look of the tiles. It’s used to lock the tiles in place.

The best of the clay tiles might last over 100 years. It also holds color better than concrete as it’s naturally clay-colored.

Spanish tile roof

Spanish tile roof is another one you’re probably familiar with. Spanish tiles promise age up to 50 years so these last quite long as well.

These sport a wavy look as well but are a little bit different from clay roofs. Well, it’s a matter of shape and how it’s made.

It resembles a little line of half barrels and a trough in between them when the roof is completely made with these. Spanish tile roof is traditionally clay roof as well, but this look is copied a lot so I included it.

Concrete tile roof

Depending on the source, concrete roofs promise 30-60 years or 50-100. So they are a little below clay tiles in that sense.

Concrete tiles are heavier than clay and absorb more water than clay. So how come concrete is still popular?

Concrete is more durable as clay shatters a bit easier. Clay is a good material where there is warmth, concrete handles cold better so it’s good to build within that environment.

Concrete tiles are also more affordable, which also explains why they are common even when they don’t last as long.

What are concrete roof tiles

So there was little about building roof tiles, but let us get back to the main business.

Concrete tiles. Let us look at how concrete roof tiles are made and a short look at how these are installed. I’m no specialist on this and don’t want to fake some so it is a short look only.

For important buildings like this, I always advise consulting professionals.

How are concrete roof tiles made

So how to make concrete roof tiles? What is the process that is used to make these products?

Concrete tiles are made from cement, sand, and water. Same way concrete pavers would be made.

Unlike concrete that is left to cure, these tiles are introduced to heat and pressure making them even stronger.

The color can also be altered with pigments, much like every cement product. The thing is that this color might wear when enough time pass. Then it would have to be re-coated or something.

Concrete tile roof installation process

I’ll write down a fast concrete tile roof installation guide so you will know what kind of job it is. Like anything else, real work is always a little bit different, but it’s good to have some idea.

Step 1: If there is an old roof then it needs to go.

Step 2: New roof needs roofing felt underlayment so if the tiles fail for some reason, the water won’t be pouring in.

You start from the bottom of the roof and spread it horizontally making it one piece hopefully from side to side. Then you spread a new one on top of it, overlapping with the first one so the water can travel on top of them if there will be any.

Step 3: Then you need to install battens horizontally for your tiles. Concrete tiles have ways to attach to these so they are vital. Naturally, you need to measure the tiles so you know what distance the battens should be.

Step 4: Install tiles. Either nail or attach them to batten up the roof from the gutter. If there are some attaching systems between tiles or batten you need to do those.

Step 5: Last part is installing the ridge tiles.

Concrete tile roof cost

Now, this is another area that depends on a lot of factors, but let us see what I can make of concrete roof cost. Obviously, it’s materials and labor that costs.

There are many concrete roof tile manufacturers and prices change from place to place so it’s hard to get a sensible estimation. Also, concrete tile roof installation will be a different process from house to house.

All I can say after viewing some of the sources online is that the price range is between $8-$14 per square foot if you count the materials and labor together.

The materials should be around $3-$4 per square foot and labor should cost around $5-$10 per square foot. Again, you never know and all you can do is ask your local roof builders how much is it.

This is something I’d leave for professional builders myself as I’m no roof man. Also, a reason for short explanations as I don’t like to explain things I don’t personally do.


I hope you got what are concrete roof tiles and how they do against the other competition from this post. I must say that clay tiles seem to have a lot going on for them if you live in warm climates.

Then again, this wasn’t a fair comparison as lots of roofing materials were left out as this was mostly about concrete roof tiles. I’m sure there are even better options at the market these days.

Still, as I think that most modern structures are only built to last around 100 years, concrete tiles can do well enough. A roof is a thing that might or might not be rebuild during the house life cycle.

It depends on trends and other needs as well. And also if there are accidents or not.

Sometimes there is a reason why the roof has to be changed even if the tiles were OK. One thing that comes to mind is building defects.

Another thing is bad calculation like if the concrete weight has been calculated, but not it getting wet or carrying a snow load. Things like these do happen so it’s another reason to consult professionals.

By doing that, you get the responsibility off you.