Your guide - roof materials







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If you are replacing your roof, the choice of material will impact the performance, lifespan and look of your roof. Our guide covers the most popular types of roof material to help with your decision.

Clay tiles

Clay is a very popular option as it comes in such a variety of colour, style and profile finish, so you can create any look you like. It works really well in a heritage style home and also if you are trying to give your home some character. A natural material, it comes in a selection of handmade, handcrafted and machine made tiles and therefore the cost can vary depending on which you choose.


  • Weather and fire resistant and resists algae and moss growth
  • They should last at least 30 years
  • A range of styles, profile finish and colours available


  • Prone to cracking so requires more maintenance
  • Clay can be heavy and therefore you need to have adequate support in the structure of the beams

Image source: Sig Roofing clay tiles

Natural Slate

Slate is one of the most popular types of roof tiles in the UK - it looks smart and works well in traditional and contemporary homes alike. Slate can significantly range in price depending on where it's from and it's quality. The premium type is Welsh slate which is known for excellent quality and lifespan - it is often reclaimed after 100 years and used again. Welsh slate was widely used in the Victorian era in the UK and has proven to stand the test of time. But more affordable slate comes from Spain, or even further afield, which is a popular choice in the UK. However, the quality of slate from outside of the UK can vary significantly and will impact how long the slate will last. To ensure good quality slate, buy from a reputable supplier, ensure it meets the European Standard BS EN 12326 and choose a high grade.


  • A natural material that looks beautiful
  • Performs well in the UK climate
  • Weather and fire resistant and resists algae and moss growth
  • Good quality slate has a long lifespan and can last decades


  • Slate is a heavy material therefore you need to have adequate support in the structure of the beams
  • It's laid double lapped and due to it's natural variations it can take more time and be more difficult to lay, so the labour cost can be more
  • Quality can vary significantly depending on which quarry it's from - cheap slate won't last as long and will fade over time

Fibre Cement Slate

Fibre cement tiles are made to mimic the look of natural slate, however normally at a cheaper price. They are unlikely to last as long as good quality natural slate, but there are some great manufacturers, such as Marley Eternit, that produce excellent quality fibre cement tiles. As they are manmade, the tile is uniform and therefore easier to lay, which reduces the labour cost.


  • Cheaper alternative to natural slate
  • Lighter option so perfect if you don't have the structure to support a heavier material
  • Weather and fire resistant and resists algae and moss growth
  • Uniform tile so they are easier and cheaper to lay
  • Low pitch options
  • Good quality will last 60 years or more


  • Poor quality is prone to weathering and won't last nearly as long as natural slate
  • It doesn't have the natural and authentic look of natural slate as it is uniform

Image Source: Marley Eternit Fibre Cement

Concrete tiles

The cheapest option available, concrete tiles are a manmade tile which is used to emulate the look of clay tiles, although you can also get some really good slate effect concrete tiles. Concrete has been the choice of the mass market for the past few decades mainly since it's around 20% cheaper than clay. Similar to clay, concrete is available in a large variety of colours and finish.


  • Cheapest product available
  • Good quality can last 30 years or more
  • Very hardy and can withstand the weather elements
  • Available in a large variety of colour and finish


  • Concrete is heavy and therefore you need to have adequate support in the structure of the beams
  • It is not a natural product and can lack character
  • Concrete can fade over time

Published: June 14, 2018

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