Shingles and tiles are two of the most popular roof materials. Both are durable and have plenty of curb appeal, but they look and perform in different ways. This guide compares shingle and tile roofs to help you determine the best type of roof for your home and budget.
What Is the Difference Between Shingle and Tile?
The main difference between tile and shingle roofs is the material. Shingle roofs are primarily made from asphalt or a composite material, while tile roofs use more elegant, natural materials such as slate or terracotta. This results in different installation costs, life spans, appearances, and more. Below is a breakdown of these key differences.
Cost is a key factor for many homeowners when deciding between tile and shingle roofs. See the average costs for each option below.
Shingle Roof Cost
Shingles are significantly less expensive than tile. Shingle roofs cost an average of $8,500–$24,500 for a 2,000-square-foot home, including labor and materials.* This price can range as low as $5,000 or as high as $40,000, depending on your home size and other factors.
Here’s a breakdown of the average cost for a shingle roof by house size.
*Cost figures are based on 2023 reports from multiple sources, including Roofing Calculator and Remodeling Calculator.
Tile Roof Cost
A tile roof costs significantly more than a shingle roof, with an average of $8,202–$24,645. Professional tile roof installation on a 2,000-square-foot home costs about $16,000. $
See how much a tile roof costs for various home sizes below.
Maintaining a tile roof is a lot less taxing and expensive than a shingle roof. This is partly because the material is so durable. The maintenance process for both roof types is similar: You should schedule an annual roof inspection to check for broken or missing shingles or tiles.
Never use a pressure washer on either type of roof. If you have a clay tile roof, avoid walking on it, as this could break the tiles. If you find a broken tile or shingle, replace it as soon as possible to avoid more widespread roof damage.
Durability and Life Span
A well-maintained tile roof has a much longer life span than a shingle roof. Tile roofs last between 25 and 100 years, depending on the material. Metal and slate tiles last the longest, with slate easily lasting more than a century.
Basic three-tab asphalt shingles only last 15–25 years. Architectural and composite shingles last a bit longer, up to 30 years because they’re thicker and use more durable materials, including fiberglass, asphalt, and recycled paper.
Both shingle and tile roofs work in all types of climates. You won’t find as many tile roofs in the northern United States because clay tiles may not handle freezing conditions well. Newer composite and metal tile roofs can handle any climate, so look for these materials if your home experiences a freeze-and-thaw cycle.
Asphalt handles all climates to varying degrees, making it a popular option for all homeowners. Unfortunately, dry, sweltering climates shorten the life span of both roof types. Ceramic tile or concrete roofs perform better in these climates.
The installation process for shingle and tile roofs varies by material. Shingles are easy to install: tabs overlap and are nailed down and sealed. Roofers typically place underlayment beneath shingles. Underlayment is a layer of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) that lies between the shingles and roof deck, providing a second layer of protection from rain, snow, and wind. Without this, you may experience more water damage and require more frequent repairs.
Tile roofs are slightly more challenging to install. Tile weighs more than shingle and often requires additional support and reinforcement before tiles can be laid down. Tile roofs also require underlayment, but the installation process is slower and more involved than shingle roofs. For example, a terracotta tile roof must be cemented into place one tile at a time. This process often takes several days to complete depending on the roof size, whereas asphalt shingle roof installation can be completed in one day.
Return on Investment
Any new roof increases your home’s resale value. However, a tile roof’s quality and curb appeal provides a slightly higher return on investment (ROI) than a shingle roof. You’ll have an even lower ROI if you choose to lay new asphalt shingles over old ones to cut up-front costs.
Shingles are the most popular type of roofing material in the United States because they’re affordable, easy to access, and low maintenance. Shingles vary in materials and thickness, with the most popular options being composite and asphalt shingles. Each shingle is a small, flexible, rectangular material installed in overlapping rows to keep out water and environmental hazards.
Pros and Cons of Shingle Roofing
✔ Straightforward to install
✔ Easy to customize with various colors and styles
✘ Shorter life span than other roof types
✘ Needs more maintenance than other roofs
✘ Less energy efficient and insulates less than other roof types
Though tile roofs are similar to shingle roofs in design, they use higher-quality materials such as clay, slate, or concrete. Roofing tiles hang in overlapping parallel rows to form a watertight seal. Tiles are more visually appealing, environmentally friendly, and durable than asphalt shingles. Tile roofs can easily last over 100 years, and many manufacturers offer a 50-year warranty.
Pros and Cons of Tile Roofing
✔ Long life span of up to 100 years
✔ Resistant to rot and insect damage
✔ More energy-efficient
✘ May require installing additional roof support
✘ Higher up-front cost than other roof types
✘ Not suitable for all roof slopes and climates
Other Roof Types
If neither a shingle nor tile roof fits your needs, consider the following alternative roofing options:
- Built-up roofing (BUR) ($3.42–$4.90 per square foot): Built-up roofing, or BUR, is used primarily for flat roofs. The roof is made from multiple layers of asphalt, ply sheets, aggregate, and other materials. It protects from ultraviolet (UV) damage and has excellent waterproofing.
- Green roofing ($10–$28 per square foot): Green roofing is relatively new to the United States, but it’s growing in popularity. Green roofs use plants and other local foliage to create a high-value and unique roof. These roofs increase your home’s energy efficiency. The money you’ll save on energy costs can offset the high up-front investment.
- Metal roofing ($9–$14.60 per square foot): Metal roofs have a life expectancy of 30–50 years, making them an excellent investment. They’re known to decrease energy bills, in turn increasing ROI. These roofs come in many styles and materials. All options are durable, easy to maintain, and fire and weather resistant.
- Solar roofing ($16.20–$20.85 per square foot): Solar roofing is an excellent option for homeowners who are converting to solar power but want to maintain their home’s aesthetics. This roofing mimics traditional roofing but generates energy like traditional solar panels. If interested, you’ll want to work with a top solar company rather than a professional roofing company.
- Wood roofing ($6.53–$9.90 per square foot): Wooden shingles are similar to the other shingles mentioned in this guide, but wooden roofs can also be made from wooden shakes. A shake is hand-split on one side, creating a more rustic look, and they’re better in certain weather conditions, such as high wind. Cedar shakes are one of the most common wooden roofing materials.
Things To Consider When Choosing a Roof Type
Curb appeal matters when shopping for a new roof, but it’s not the only factor. Your roof contributes to almost everything that makes your home livable. Consider the following factors to determine the right roofing material for your home and lifestyle:
- Budget: Assess your finances to set a realistic budget. Different roofing materials can vary significantly in price, and you’ll want to account for labor, permits, and unexpected changes or repairs.
- Climate: Pay attention to typical weather patterns in your area. Different materials have different levels of weather resistance, so find out how each roof type reacts to the elements and determine which options are best suited to your local climate.
- Energy efficiency: Though more expensive up-front, energy-efficient roofs can save you money long-term. The ability of your roof to reflect heat can also make or break your indoor comfort, so research each option’s thermal properties.
- Slope: Your roof must be able to drain water. Asphalt shingles are the most popular option, but only because most American residential roofs have a steep slope. If some of your roof’s slopes are low, use a specialized product that’s more leak-resistant when exposed to pooling water.
- Weight: The material’s weight can affect your project’s timeline and labor cost. If you choose a heavier material than the one currently covering your home, structural adjustments might be necessary to ensure your home can support the added weight.
Consider each factor in this guide to determine if a shingle or tile roof best matches your needs and preferences. Once you know which roof type you want, contact multiple local roofing contractors for free estimates and comparison. Enter your ZIP code in our tool below to jumpstart the quote process.
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