Shingles vs. Roof Tiles (Concrete and Clay): Which to Choose?

Shingles vs. Roof Tiles (Concrete and Clay): Which to Choose?

Handyman's World is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Installing, redoing, and repairing a roof is not a small job. The time, effort, and money involved with fixing a roof mean that you want to do it once and do it right. This means choosing the right materials for the type of roof you have. Shingles and roof tiles are frequently used to cover roofs.

In this article, we’ll compare the materials to highlight when one is better suited for a roofing job than the other.

What Are Shingles?

In North America, shingles are one of the most regularly used roofing options. The product is so popular because it offers an economic roofing choice that is also durable and relatively easy to install.

A shingle’s job is to defend property from the weather and keep wind, rain, sun, and extreme temperatures out. The product itself is usually rectangular and constructed from layers of felt or fiberglass on the bottom, then asphalt, and then a layer of granules that protects the shingle from UV degradation.

There are different types of shingles, which look different, and last varying lengths of time. Three of the most common types are traditional asphalt shingles, fiberglass shingles, and architectural shingles. Unless said otherwise, this article is mainly discussing the traditional asphalt variety.

What Are Roof Tiles?

Roof tiles are one of the oldest and best ways that people have secured buildings from the weather outside. The Romans, Greeks, and older civilizations all made use of tiles on their roofs.

They are strong, durable, and provide excellent weather protection. To get these qualities, tiles cost and weigh a lot more than other roofing options. A roof that will be tiled has to be properly framed to support this additional weight.

Traditionally, a tile was made from local materials that a builder could source. Now, however, tiles are made from a wide range of resources. Two of the most common tile types are concrete and clay, which this article will focus on.

Shingles vs. Roof Tiles: What Are the Differences?

Both shingles and roof tiles will protect a building from the outside elements. In fact, shingles are designed to mimic roof tiles in a lot of ways. However, despite these similarities, there are key differences between the two products. In this section, we’ll compare the durability, cost, appearance, and installation of both.


Undoubtedly, tiled roofs last a lot longer than shingles. Depending on the quality and type of shingle you buy, they might last 25 years. Tiled roofs last a very long time. If the weather is not too extreme, a tiled roof can exceed 100 years.


One of the main reasons people choose shingles over tiles is the cost, as shingles are considerably cheaper. Alongside this, the labor cost for tiles is higher, especially if the roof has to be reinforced to take the additional weight. However, this cost is reduced if you consider that you will probably not have to replace the roof again, but you may have to with shingles.


Don’t underestimate how important the roof is to the overall look of a building. Both shingles and tiles can look great. At a lower cost, you might be able to afford a wider variety of styles of shingles. Alongside this, shingles come in a range of shapes and sizes, so you can usually find one that matches the look you’re going for.

Shingles are designed to appear like more traditional and expensive roofing products, such as tiles. At a distance, higher-quality shingles can be difficult to distinguish from tiles. However, lower-end shingles are quite clearly their own product. Each shingle has a number of ‘tabs’ on it, which replicate the look of tiles. Two, three, and four-tab shingles are all available, with three being the most commonly used.

Tiles can be manufactured into many different shapes, including interlocking, flat, and curved.

Tiles tend to look higher quality, but not always. Alongside this, tiled roofs will match more traditional architecture. Some local councils will only allow tiles to go on certain buildings to keep the overall look of a town intact. Traditionally, different areas would have their own unique style of tile made from their local material, which is one of the reasons old towns can have such unique character.


Shingles are quicker and easier to install than tiles. However, the task must still be done by a competent person. Tiles, on the other hand, must be laid by a professional. Depending on the design of the tiles, there could be added complications in making sure they interlock properly.

Shingles work on pitched roofs to create a waterproof barrier. Multiple shingles are laid overlapping on a roof, beginning at the bottom, the first ‘course’ runs horizontally along the roof. Successive courses slightly overlap the previous one as they make their way up to the roof’s ridgeline.

Tiles are installed in a similar process, beginning with the bottom course and working up to the ridgeline. However, there is considerable more work preparing the roof for the tiles, making sure it’s strong enough, and handling the heavier material.

At the ridge of the roof, a capping piece or another specially designed material finishes the roof off. Laying the shingles and tiles like this means that water can run down the pitched roof and into the gutters.

Shingles have an adhesive strip on the long bottom edge. This strip adheres to the shingle overlapped beneath it. When the sun heats the roof up, the glue gets activated and binds the top shingle to the one beneath it. This adhesion is important to stop the wind from getting underneath loose edges and causing damage.

Shingles vs. Roof Tiles: Which One Should You Use?

This choice will come down to a few key points. Shingles are cheaper than tiles, installation is easier, and so are repairs. However, tiles will last a lot longer than shingles and usually provide more character and charm to a building than shingles.


Replacing a roof is a big job that costs a lot of money, takes a lot of time, and can be quite disruptive. You want to make sure you get it right the first time. So whether you choose the more expensive, longer-lasting option of tiles, or the cheaper and faster shingles, carefully research the products to make sure they will be perfect for your roof. With the right materials on your roof, you know your house will be safe and protected from the elements for years to come.