House and Home

6 Different Types of Roofing Materials – What Are Your Options?

The roof is an integral part of any property. It ensures the property is weathertight and adds aesthetic appeal.

Whether you are building a house from scratch or renovating the roof on your current home, it’s worth thinking about the many different roofing materials out there.

Here are your main options:

Concrete Tiles

Concrete tiles are cheap and cheerful. They are larger than many other tiles so fewer of them are required per meter squared.

However, concrete tiles are more difficult to cut, so the cheaper cost of the material is offset by extra labor costs in more complex roof designs.

Concrete tiles are available in different designs, from interlocking tiles to plain tiles. Because they are made of concrete, they tend to be grey in color.

In a regular home, concrete tiles look fine, but if your property is older or you want a more modern aesthetic, you may want to look at a different type of roofing material.

Clay Tiles

Clay tiles, like concrete tiles, are available in different designs.  Clay tiles are rich, red color and they withstand weather changes well, usually retaining their color for many years.

The warm terracotta colour of a clay tile roof is exceptionally attractive, especially on period properties, so they are a good choice for any home. In fact, clay is arguably a better material than concrete, as it weathers far better.


Slate is another traditional material for roofs, especially in parts of the country where slate mines were once in abundance, such as Wales. The

Victorians used slate for their roofs and many older properties still have their original slate roofs in place. Slate is tough, hard-wearing, and long-lasting.

Modern slate roofing materials are less likely to come from Wales and more likely to be shipped in from Spain, but it’s still an excellent roof material.

If you want the attractive look of a slate roof but would rather choose something other than traditional slate, there are slate alternatives.

Manufacturers make slate-effect tiles that use slate dust bonded with resin to form a similar material. Available as an interlocking design, they are quick and easy to install.

Whether you have a Victorian property or a modern new-build, slate is a good mid-price roof option.


Metal roofs are all the rage on programs like Grand Designs. Architects love the aesthetic of materials like copper and zinc. Lead is also used as a roofing material, but usually only around chimneys and joints.

A metal roof adds a slick contemporary feel to any design, which is why metal is worth considering if you are designing a new home. Metal roofs can be laid in strips, sheets, or as tiles.

Metal is more expensive, but it offers greater structural integrity if the property is affected by high wind speeds, which could dislodge concrete or clay tiles.


Thatch is a traditional type of roofing often seen on quaint, chocolate box cottages. The art of thatching is in decline these days and there are not many skilled thatchers left.

However, when a thatched roof is done properly, it is warm and watertight. It also looks beautiful in a traditional cottage.

You can’t add a thatched roof to an existing property, as the house needs to be designed to accommodate the thatched roof. But if you are building a traditional home from scratch, it is worth considering thatch as your roofing material.

Bear in mind that thatched roofs require regular upkeep and replacement by a skilled contractor and are expensive to install and maintain.

They are also a fire risk and you will need a specialist building insurance policy, which is likely to be more expensive. In addition, mortgage lenders tend to frown upon non-standard roofs.

Green Roofs

Last on our list are green roofs, which have really come into their own in the last decade or so. Green roofs are quite common in Scandinavian countries, but less so in the UK.

However, if installed correctly, they look beautiful and offer excellent insulation properties.

A green roof is an eco-friendly roof. They have featured regularly on programs like Grand Designs and are starting to become popular with architects seeking to promote their green credentials.

A green roof is not something you can add retrospectively, as the roof structure must be reinforced to support the extra weight of the turf.

Waterproofing is a critical part of the process when constructing a green roof, as are the types of plants you choose.

Roofing contractors will often recommend the cheapest materials, but don’t just accept this as your best option. Some roofing materials look better than others, and the age of the property will also play a part.

For example, many older properties dating back to the Victorian or Edwardian era have slate roofs.

Whilst replacing a slate roof with concrete tiles is cheaper, not only will it look out of place but the roof timbers will not be able to support much heavier concrete tiles.

Before choosing a roofing material, consider whether the roof timbers need replacing. In an older property, this is a possibility. An experienced roofing contractor will carry out a detailed survey of your roof before making any recommendations.

Speak to someone like Using a poor-quality roofing contractor will only end in tears. Make sure any contractor you use has insurance and appropriate trade qualifications.

It’s a good idea to ask for customer testimonials before you hire a contractor. Any reputable contractor will be happy to show you their work.

Before agreeing on a price for a new roof, make sure you have everything in writing. Don’t pay for the work up-front, but it is customary to pay a deposit, with the balance on completion when you are satisfied with the standard of the work.

Remember, building regulations approval is needed if work is carried out on more than 25% of the roof or structural alterations are made. If in doubt, speak to your local planning department for advice.