The type of material you choose for your roof can make all the difference. It will not just affect your building's curb appeal but also impact other crucial aspects such as durability, energy efficiency, and installation costs.
Metal tiles and Spanish clay tiles are some of the most popular roofing materials today, owing to their durability and aesthetic appeal. They are also widely available and are not as tricky to install as other roofing options, such as standing seam metal roofs.
These roofing materials may look alike in appearance. Indeed, other similarities will emerge as we dive deeper. However, the two differ in many ways. In this article, we will compare the two and pit them against each other. If you are torn between the two, we will give you all the facts you need to make the right choice.
Table of Contents
- Cool Roofing
- Slope Requirements
- Fire Resistance
- Metal Tile vs Spanish Clay Tile, How To Choose? - Factors to Consider
- Conclusion: Which is the Better Material?
Aesthetics is often a point of concern, especially for homeowners. Although metal tile and Spanish clay tile may look deceptively similar, the former trumps the latter in curb appeal. That is because metal tiles come in a wide variety of color options to suit different needs, styles, and environments.
Clay tiles usually don't offer much as far as color choices are concerned. Apart from the usual brown earth tones, terra cotta, and rustic reds, there is really not much else. That can limit folks who prefer vibrant colors or buildings whose architectural styles will not fit the limited options available.
Manufacturers could produce Spanish clay tiles in specialty colors such as blue, green, or white. However, such colors are only available upon request. Furthermore, the customized options will certainly attract higher prices.
Longevity is an aspect where both options fair quite well. You can expect your roof to last for more than 60 years (or longer in some cases) if you choose either material. It's no wonder that both options usually attract warranties of up to 50 years. Of course, a roof will only last that long if it is properly installed and maintained.
Although a Spanish clay tile roof can last long, it does not hold up well under impact. Even before installation, some of the tiles could already have undergone breakages. Others could break during installation if the installers are not careful when driving through the screws. That also rules out the possibility of walking on the roof, which would make it hard to maintain it.
On the other hand, metal is arguably the strongest roofing material and will easily beat clay. As you can expect, it will not give in under impact. The tiles are unlikely to get damaged before or during installation. This means that you can walk on the metal tiles when doing maintenance or cleaning without fear of causing breakages.
Metal also beats clay in weather resistance. When exposed to extremely cold temperatures and repeated freeze-thaw cycles, Spanish clay tiles will weaken over time. As a result, these types of roofs may not be appropriate for regions that experience such weather conditions.
Conversely, metal is suited for warmer as well as colder environments. It can be installed in any region and can outlive Spanish clay tiles in areas that experience heavy snow, hail, and ice. However, be careful with aluminum because it may not do well in marine environments.
Spanish clay tiles have an inbuilt thermal resistance due to their half-barrel shape. During installation, the tiles do not interlock as in metal tile roofing. That leaves spaces underneath the tiles that inhibit heat transfer. Therefore, your building will remain cooler during the summer and warmer during winter.
Most metal tiles now come with cool roof colors and reflective surfaces. As a result, they have high solar reflectance and thermal emittance. That means the heat that would have permeated into the building is otherwise reflected in the atmosphere. A cool metal roof can save you a lot in terms of cooling bills.
Clay is one of the heaviest roofing materials in the industry. Compared to metal, clay tiles could even be five times heavier. The tiles can weigh roughly between 8-15 pounds per square foot. Granted, it would be hard for anything to lift the tiles of the roof deck. However, that is where the advantages end.
Before installing clay tiles, you must ensure that the roof structure is strong enough to hold the weight. In some instances, it is important to add extra infrastructure such as wood battens. Metal tiles are easier to work with because no reinforcement is necessary.
Metal tiles are lighter and, therefore, easier to install. Moreover, their uniformity means fewer size adjustments and infrastructure are required during installation. However, both roofing materials require more experience and expertise to install than other roofing such as corrugated metal. Therefore, they may not be fit for DIY projects.
Both materials cost relatively the same to buy. However, the disparity comes during installation. Spanish clay tiles will cost more to install owing to the weight that usually slows down the process. Additionally, the weight also translates to more costs during shipping.
Both materials are environmentally friendly. Clay is a naturally occurring material that will not get depleted anytime soon. You can also recycle it for future use. Similarly, metal is 100% recyclable. In fact, some of the tiles may already have previously recycled materials, either from scrap or already used products.
You should not consider using either material for your roof if it is flat. But Spanish clay tiles are also not suited for low-sloped applications. 3/12 is as low as you should go. But even then, you would need to install two layers to prevent the water from leaking.
With metal tiles, it would depend on the type of profile. For instance, mechanically seamed double-lock systems could work with pitches as low as 1.5:12.
Both metal and clay have high fire resistance, meaning they are unlikely to catch fire. In fact, they have a Class-A fire rating. That is a crucial advantage, especially in areas that are prone to wildfires.
The following table sums up the differences between metal tile and Spanish clay tile.
Spanish Clay Tile
Many color options
Limited color options
Suitable for all weather conditions
Not suited for extremely cold environments
Weighs considerably more
Easier to install
Harder to install
Less labor and shipping costs
More labor and shipping costs
Suitable for lower slopes
Not suitable for lower slopes
Highly fire resistant
Highly fire resistant
Metal Tile vs Spanish Clay Tile, How To Choose? - Factors to Consider
Metal tiles and Spanish clay tiles are both viable roofing materials. However, you have to consider a variety of factors before choosing the best option for you.
Spanish clay tiles are only prevalent in specific regions in the United States. That's because their limited color options (mostly reddish-orange and brown earth tones) do not fit the architectural theme in other areas.
You will find them in areas such as Florida, Georgia, South West US, and Southern California but not in New England or the Northwest Region. On the other hand, metal tile roofing will fit in almost any region.
Some neighborhoods will have rules and regulations on what type of roofing you should install. Some will even entirely restrict residents from installing a specific style of roofing. You should always confirm with the HOA or municipality to know whether they allow metal tile or Spanish clay tile roofing before committing yourself.
Sometimes it all boils down to personal taste when choosing your roofing style. If you prefer a modern, sleek look, go for metal tiles.
But if a traditional and rustic look is more your style, you should consider Spanish clay tiles instead.
Style of Your Building
Whatever style of roofing you choose should blend with the rest of the building. So, before making that important choice, ensure what you pick matches the color and style of the walls, doors, windows, etc.
Climate and Environment
The type of environment should determine what kind of roof you choose. For instance, a metal roof is best suited for areas with extremely cold temperatures. That is because freezing temperatures could weaken Spanish clay.
The type of environment you live in could also determine the color of your roofing. For example, earth tones blend well in mountainous regions. Therefore, Spanish clay tile roofing may not be suited for various locations due to its limited color options.
Although buying either material will cost relatively the same, the weight of Spanish clay tiles will lead to higher labor and shipping costs. So, ensure you can afford to pay more if you prefer clay to metal.
Conclusion: Which is the Better Material?
Metal tile and Spanish clay are both viable roofing materials. They both have high longevity and fire resistance. And they make for good cool roofing materials. Moreover, they are both 100% recyclable and are, therefore, eco-friendly.
However, Spanish clay tiles may not hold up well under pressure and are not the best choice for regions with freeze-thaw cycles. Additionally, their weight leads to higher labor and shipping costs.
Clearly, metal tiles are the better of the two roofing materials. They are more durable, lighter, and cheaper to install. Moreover, they come with a wide variety of color options.