Tile roofing in all its forms — concrete, slate, clay, and so on — has some definite advantages, but it’s not a perfect form of roofing by any means. Depending on where you live, how you normally treat your house, and what your household repair budget is usually like, tile roofing can actually cause quite a few problems. Knowing about these ahead of time will help you decide whether tile roofing or another material will work for your home.
Hard tiles like clay and slate are surprisingly fragile. If you live in an area known for hail, particularly large hail, a tile roof may not be the best choice as the tiles can break easily. The tiles hold up to rain quite well, but add in anything solid other than snow falling on the roof, and the tiles become vulnerable. You would have to have the roof inspected any time something fell on it, from a tree branch to an errant basketball. And if a storm hits, you have to get the tiles checked out one by one — but that can lead to yet another problem.
Additional Damage During Maintenance and Repair
This sort of roofing can be so fragile that it can sustain broken tiles just from maintenance people walking over it. People cleaning gutters have been known to damage a tile edge here and there, too. It’s an ironic problem when you have maintenance causing the need for more maintenance.
That leads into yet another downside: cost. Tile roofing, depending on the material, can be very expensive. Slate, especially, is one of the more expensive dollar-per-tile materials, so you must factor this in if you want tile roofing. Any repairs are likely to cost more than they would for asphalt or metal roofing.
Given tile’s long lifespan (assuming it hasn’t been damaged), it can have a lower overall cost over the life of the roof. But if you’re in an area where the tiles are likely to sustain damage, you could quickly find that overall cost being much higher than anticipated.
Tiles also tend to be heavy — so heavy, in fact, that when all put together in one roof, they can place a lot of extra stress on the building’s structure. Many homes need to be retrofitted to be able to support that weight. Newer versions of the materials can often be lighter and require less shoring up, but you will need to have your house evaluated for how much weight it can support before you have a tile roof added, if the house has never had a tile roof before.
The tiles themselves may last a long time, but the underlayment might not last as long itself. That would mean you’d have to have the tiles removed so you could replace the underlayment. If you still want a tile roof, you’ll have to look for underlayment materials that last as long as is humanly possible to reduce the number of times you have to go through the remove-tile-replace-tile cycle.
Tile roofs definitely do have their place in the world of roofing; they aren’t the worst materials out there, of course. But you have to be aware of what can happen if you live in certain situations so that you can find the best roofing material for your home.