Roofing tiles have come a long way since they entered the U.S. around the 17th century. The most common types so far have been clay, slate, and concrete. It was not until recently that lighter and cheaper alternatives such as rubber entered the scene.
But how does this new entrant compare to other roofing options? Below, we examine rubber roof tiles’ pros and cons. As a bonus, we also include some buying tips to help you make the right choices. Read on.
Table of Contents
- Pros of Rubber Roof Tiles
- Cons of Rubber Roof Tiles
- Rubber Roof Tiles Buying Tips
- Where to Buy Rubber Roof Tiles
- Final Word
Pros of Rubber Roof Tiles
Why would you consider rubber roof tiles as an option? Here are some of the advantages you should expect to get.
One of the main drawbacks of conventional options like slate is the high cost. Rubber tiles are relatively cheaper. A square foot tile will fetch $3 to $5, while a slate tile of the same size will cost between $10 and $30
Although a rubber tile roof is cheaper than conventional tiles, it is still more expensive than asphalt shingles and wood shakes.
The following table compares the price of rubber tiles and other alternatives.
Cost per square foot
$3 to $5
$10 to $14
$9 to $18
$8 to $25
$10 to $30
High Impact Resistance
Slate, clay, and concrete are brittle and will crack or break under pressure. Contrastingly, Rubber tiles have high impact resistance, with a Class 4 rating. They can withstand up to two inches of hail and bear some minimal foot traffic.
Another main advantage of rubber roof tiles is their lightweight nature. A square foot tile only weighs 200 to 400 pounds. In context, a slate tile with similar dimensions weighs between 800 and 1500 pounds.
The following table compares the weight of different tile roofs.
Material of Tiles
Weight in pounds per square foot
200 to 400
600 to 650
820 to 1200
800 to 1500
Unlike their heavy counterparts, rubber tiles will never put a strain on your roof deck. So, no reinforcement is necessary before installation. They are also easier to carry, which brings us to our next benefit.
Easy to Install
Carrying heavy tiles up the roof can be a labor-intensive process. The lightweight nature of rubber makes installation easier. Also, the process is straightforward. Once you install an underlayment, all you need to do is nail the tiles.
Most rubber roof tiles come from recycled tires. The manufacturers heat what would otherwise be waste into liquid and then mold it into uniformly sized Recycled rubber roof tiles.
When the tiles can no longer serve their purpose, you can also recycle them again. Recycled rubber roof tiles benefit both the consumer and the environment.
High UV Resistance
Tires usually contain carbon black, a component that can withstand UV radiation. Rubber tiles naturally have this component seeing that they consist of recycled tires. They, therefore, inherently have a high UV resistance.
This feature protects them from damage due to prolonged UV exposure. It also helps them retain their original color for longer.
Although rubber tiles are lightweight, the wind cannot blow them away with ease. They may not have the strength of other roofing tiles, but they have a wind resistance of 110 mph. That is a Class F rating according to UL 2390.
Here is how the tiles compare with other alternatives.
Material of Tiles
Wind Resistance in mph
Fungal and Insect Resistant
Rubber tiles don’t provide a conducive environment for moss, algae, or mildew to grow. So, you don’t have to worry about discoloration. They are also not organic and will not attract insects and other pests looking for food.
Rubber roof tiles don’t need frequent maintenance save for regular cleaning. Repairs are also easy to make when damage occurs (it rarely does). All you have to do is replace the affected tiles while leaving the others intact.
Rubber tiles can acquire many forms through molding. They can mimic the look of slate, clay, and wood shake. Some people might even find it hard to distinguish them from the real thing.
The versatility of rubber tiles makes them appropriate for different architectural styles. Moreover, they are available in a variety of color options to suit varying design preferences.
Cons of Rubber Roof Tiles
Rubber tile roofs have their disadvantages as well. Here are some of them.
Although rubber tiles are easy to install, there are several prerequisites. First, the roof surface should be entirely dry before installation. Also, sometimes manufacturers recommend the use of industrial adhesives.
Moreover, rubber tiles may not be difficult to install, but you still need to hire qualified professionals to handle the process. These are not often easy to come across.
Rubber tiles mimic clay, slate, and other roofing materials. While some people may find them indistinguishable from the real thing, others are harder to fool. Subtle variations such as shiny surfaces are easy to spot. Rubber tiles are also thinner than the actual tiles they mimic.
Not Suited For Low Slopes
The minimum slope required for tiles is 2½:12. Tile roofs are water-shedding systems, essentially. Therefore, installing them on a lower pitch could lead to leakages since the water will not flow down as efficiently.
Additionally, tiles on a pitch lower than 4:12 require a double-layered underlayment. One layer is sufficient for slopes higher than 4:12, though.
Newly installed rubber roof tiles give off a stench that makes the house smell like a tire factory or a refinery. It dissipates with time. However, some people may find it so unbearable that they give up on rubber tiles entirely.
Rubber is a flexible material. Therefore, frequent temperature changes can result in curling and cracking. The roof tiles can also deteriorate over time due to continued exposure to the vagaries of weather.
As we mentioned in the beginning, rubber tiles have only been around for a few years. Therefore, they have not gone through the real test of time.
So, how long do rubber roof tiles last? Many manufactures project they will last for 30 to 50 years. And many even offer warranties as long as 50 years to back this claim.
In truth, there are no 50-year old rubber roof tiles. Their longevity is, therefore, still up in the air. Will they last as expected? Only time will tell.
Rubber roof tiles are not fireproof. They have a Class C fire rating, which means they are flammable.
Not everybody will be bothered by this fact. But those living in wildfire-prone areas undoubtedly will. Moreover, it is mandatory to install a Class A-rated roof in particular areas. A rubber tile roof will not cut it there.
Rubber Roof Tiles Buying Tips
There are several things to consider before installing rubber roof tiles. Ignoring them could result in poor purchasing decisions that may lead to project failure and untold losses. They include the following.
Factor 1: Aesthetics
Remember when we said rubber tiles are sometimes indistinguishable from the real thing? Well, some are harder to spot than others. Don’t just buy the first product you come across. Before making a decision, study the market first. Look for rubber roof tiles that resemble the real thing as close as possible.
Factor 2: Quality
Rubber roof tiles are not created equal. It would help to ascertain the quality of the product first before spending your hard-earned money. You might find yourself with a tile roof that barely lasts for five years on your hands.
Factor 3: Installation
Rubber tiles are easier to install compared to conventional options. That does not mean anybody can install it, though.
We are aware there are many DIY enthusiasts out there. But unless you have experience installing tile roofs, it would be better to leave the job to the professionals. Even then, ensure they have installed tile roofs before.
Where to Buy Rubber Roof Tiles
The quality of a rubber roof tile will depend on the manufacturer. So, consider reputable brands to avoid problems down the road. Some well-respected brands that sell rubber roof tiles include TAMKO steel, CertainTeed, and Davinci Roofscapes.
So, are rubber roof tiles any good? A rubber tile roof is an excellent alternative if you love the look of conventional tiles but cannot bear the high cost and weight. It offers many other advantages, but it has its shortcomings as well.
There is still much to learn about rubber roof tiles since they have only been around for a while. However, they seem to be doing a decent job thus far. They may not match the longevity of slate or clay, but they are a good option for the money.