Tiled and slate roofs – Choosing roof tiles

By Robin Whitlock on January 6th, 2012

Tiled and Slate Roofs Building a roof is a specialised job and is not something to be undertaken by amateur DIY enthusiasts. So you will need a skilled recommended roofer to construct your new roof.  

Roof tiles are made from a variety of materials, notably clay, concrete or slate.

The first people in Britain to use clay tiles were actually the Romans, as did the Saxons after them. In the early days, the use of clay tiles was restricted by their cost but the good thing about them is that they can last for 60 years or more and in some places there are peg-tiled roofs that are hundreds of years old.

Different types of tiles

  • Clay tiles – are thinner than brick and are therefore not subject to the same variations in firing as brick. In general however, hand-made tiles are extremely durable and tend not to be vulnerable to frost damage. They are best used on roofs having a pitch of around 40° but some single lap tiles can be used on pitches of 25°.
  • Concrete tiles – the most common and cheapest material used for roofing in Britain today is concrete. It is durable, available in a wide range of colours and is popular because of its tendency to retain a stable temperature. They are also offer good all-round protection against heavy rain and hot sun. But like clay tiles, concrete roof tiles are major contributors to carbon emissions during manufacture.
  • Slate tiles – a fine-grained rock, slate is derived from a shale-type sedimentary rock composed of clay or volcanic ash and formed through metamorphism. When expertly cut in a quarry it forms horizontal flat sheets of stone which have been used for roofing, among other uses, for very many years. Although frequently it is a grey-blue in colour, it can also be found in a variety of other colours.

Different tiles have different benefits

Choosing the right type of tiles for your new roof is important, not least because the tiles will play a significant part in determining the way your property looks. For most people, cost will be the biggest contributing factor in choosing, with slate tiles the most expensive option.

Slate is very expensive given the fact that quarrying and processing are very labour intensive. This is in addition to the specialist expertise of a professional roofing contractor.  Imported slate can be cheaper but it should conform to British Standard BS EN 123261 furthermore its carbonate content shouldn’t really be any higher than 20% or it may be prone to discolouring.

Clay tiles improve with age and won’t fade. They are available in a wide range of styles and more than 50 different colours, ranging from warm oranges to deep reds. While concrete tiles are generally the cheapest option, although high quality tiles are available which cost around the same price as low-end clay tiles.

Whether you opt for concrete, clay or slate tiles, all are highly durable, fire resistant and also resistant to natural elements such as storms and wind.

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