Most Important Types of Roofs

Not only does your roof slate or tiles have to fulfill the role of forming a watertight layer and keeping your home dry, it also has to look good from the moment they are fixed and for decades to come. Well, is that a lot to ask of one material? Choosing the right product from a host of alternatives is an essential decision and is bound to be controlled by a number of factors.

  • The pitch (the angle at which the roof slopes) and the roof design are very important factors to consider when making your choice. While Clay tiles have the ability to slope down to pitches as low as 15 degrees based on the type of clay tile, the slates only have the ability to slope down to 25 degrees. Either the interlocking slates or tiles in man made materials like concrete or fibre cement can also serve as an alternative on low pitches. These factors need to be taken into consideration at the design stage because a complex or a low or steep roof may not match up with the material which you hope to use.
  • This goes without saying, but hire the right roofing company. Do not rush your decision.
  • One other important thing to consider when you are choosing a roof covering, which makes up to about 40 percent of the facade, is whether it will blend well with both the wall cladding and the joinery. Taking this decision will be easier for you if you ask for samples and create a little semblance of both the wall and roof.

When the factors listed above are duly put into consideration, you will find it much more easier to make the right choice.


clay roof tile

Although they usually go together with rich red roofs, the beauty of clay tiles lie in the amount of shades, profiles and finishes that are readily available. From burnt oranges and terracotta to browns, there is always an alternative for a blend of different shades. A popular choice among skilled roofing contractors and home builders is a blend where both the mix and color variation work together to break up large expanses of the roof. Also bear in mind that the crucial thing with a mix is that the contrast between tiles should not be too conspicuous.

It is always advisable to find a professional roofer that will mix the tiles on site and hinder the occurrence of patches or bands of color on the roof. Clay tiles mostly come in the dark blue colour. They can be used in mimicking a good looking slate, at a lower cost. It is worthy to note that the deep blue color of the clay tile is gotten by the careful control of the kiln atmosphere during the firing cycle, therefore the color is actually fired into the product. This explains why it is not easy for the man made alternatives such as concrete, which are relatively cheaper, to surpass it. Its blue color is baked all through the natural material; this means that the clay will mellow and weather with age, but will not lose its rich beauty over the years. The man made alternatives are more likely to lose their surface colors.

The real hand made tiles are made by throwing clay into a mold and cutting off the back with a wire, then the nibs and nail holes are formed by hand ensuring that the product is made completely by hand. The hand formed tiles are made with an extruded blank that is controlled by hand at the end of the process to give a character to the product. There are no two handmade tiles that are identical. There is always a slight difference in shape, color, thickness and size. Ensure that you pick the tiles that have been ‘pre-aged’ for a weathered look. Also make sure that whichever product you choose has a good guarantee of at least, thirty years.


An important feature of the overall look is the surface finish. While a sand faced finish can give the roof a rustic and aged look, it tends to weather faster. On the other hand, the  smooth faced finishes promote surface run-off more readily and also possess a slippery surface that aids in the prevention of the growth of mosses. There are different types of tiles, ranging from the plain tiles to the S-shaped tiles and Roman tiles, as well as an array of profiles.


natural slate roof tile

One of the first things that you should check out is the origin of a slate. While the imported slates are from Spain, China and Brazil, the Chinese and Brazilian slate are among the cheapest slates that are available. Always bear in mind that not all slates are of the same quality. In fact, slate quarries that are just miles apart can produce slates of widely differing qualities and prices. Spain is a major producer of the roofing slates in the world. It has been proven that while the best Spanish slate is far superior to the best Chinese and Brazilian slate, the poorest Spanish slate is laden with high metallic additives and is not durable, and will fade over time.

It is worthy to note that as slates get cheaper, its risk of getting stained tend to increase. During this time, they become less regular, making them harder to lay. Slates are normally tested for variables such as strength, water absorption (it should be noted that the low absorption of water is associated with longer life), carbonate content (high levels of carbonate may cause slate to discolor faster), how they perform in repeated freeze/thaw cycles, etc. The high quality slates are distinguished by the letters A1 (absorption), T1 (thermal cycle) and S1 (sulfur dioxide exposure).

It is wise to ask for well outlined quotations that bear the name and grade of the slate, from two or three suppliers. Also bear in mind that checking the price involves pre-holing to the correct head-lap. A good slate when laid, should be double lapped. This simply means that the slate above overlaps the one below to form a watertight layer. However, as a natural product with slight variations, it is a good idea to get a professional to carry out the task.


The man made alternatives range from concrete products that copy the clay plain tiles to fibre-cement roof slates that copy the natural slate. They do not age like their natural counterparts and are very unlikely to last for long, but the force of attraction mostly lie in their relative affordability. An added advantage is that the consistent size, shape and thickness of man made alternatives make them easier and cheaper to lay. In most places, they are referred to as interlocks. Many can be specified as interlocking to help with the task. Man made slates and barrel tiles also come in handy where a lightweight covering is needed.


The stones that are used for roofing are usually a local form of limestone. It is not just a type of rock that varies from region to region or by its size and thickness or by how the edges are finished and dressed. It is a very costly alternative that will need professional skills to lay. Nonetheless, it has a very aesthetic look.



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