Choosing The Perfect Roof Tiles For Your Next Project

Slate, Tile or Concrete?

When choosing a roofing material for your building project, you may have decided on tiles of some sort. Once you’ve made this decision, then the next is what type of tiles? There’s a lot to choose from and certain factors to consider.

Your Roof

Consider the pitch of your roof as this matters a great deal to the type of tiles you can install. For example, plain tiles can be fitted to roofs with a pitch of 35 degrees whereas interlocking clay tiles can only be fitted to roofs with a pitch of 15 degrees.

Don’t forget lean-to roofs: if, say, your lean-to roof is at a different pitch to the main roof you might not be able to have the same tiles fitted. Therefore, think carefully.

Structural Considerations

If you’re re-roofing an existing property with a different type of tile, then you have to be sure the existing structure can take it if the new tiles are heavier than the old ones. Even if the new tiles are lighter you have to be careful – it could be that extra ties and securing methods have to be used to stop the lighter roof being affected by high winds.

You’ll have to check with your local planning department, and will likely need the services of a structural engineer to survey the roof. It may be that extra strengthening will be required.

Planning and Building Regulations

You don’t usually need planning permission to fit a new roof so long as the building isn’t listed and isn’t in a conservation area.

You will, however, need building regulations approval if you’re roofing a whole property or more than 25% of the total roof area. Be aware that this is the case if it’s just the tiles you’re fitting even if it isn’t the rest of the roof. This is mainly to check sufficient levels of insulation will be included to conform to the latest environmental regulations. To check the latest building regulations and what may apply to you, check the government’s planning portal here.

Making your choice

So much of your choice will come down to the looks of a tile on the roof.

Generally, tiles are an excellent choice as they last decades – possible the life of the property apart from maybe the odd replacement of a slipped or cracked tile – and they’re durable, fireproof and low maintenance.

Take a look at similar properties to yours or the one you’re building or renovating. What type of tiles have they got? Take a few photographs and show them to your roofing contractor. Any roofer worth their salt can advise on what type of tiles they are, where they can be sourced and what they’ll cost.

The three main tile materials are:

  • Clay
  • Slate
  • Concrete

All offer the traditional tile benefits as described above, but there are a few differences you might like to consider.


The most versatile in that they’re available in various different colours and finishes. While they will last well, clay tiles may be a bit more prone to cracking than concrete and slate.


Usually the most expensive option, slate also needs to be fitted by roofers who really know what they’re doing. Not all roofing companies are expert in working with slate so choose your roofer carefully.

Slate is a very durable material but heavy: if switching from clay tiles you may need to strengthen your roof structure (see above).


Not as attractive as slate but likely to be less expensive to install. Concrete tiles are heavy, so you may need to factor in extra roof strengthening.

Making your choice

A key factor will be matching your roof with others in the area. While it may not be necessary to exactly blend in with the other properties nearby, it can make a difference. It’s one thing being different, it’s quite another having roof that sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.

Your location may influence the type of tiles you go for. For example, in certain parts if the country slate is popular locally so you may go with a similar type.

Above all, an idea of what you like the look of and how you want the property to look will be a big pointer as to what tiles to choose. A carefully chosen roofer will help you achieve the roof you desire.

Allan Buchan is the CEO at Confederation of Roofing Contractors, the premier roofing trades association in the UK.

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