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Is Slate Or Clay Tile Roofing Right For Your Commercial Building?

Key Takeaways:

  • Roof tiles are manufactured, requiring burning clay in a kiln. They are available in a far greater choice of designs and colors than natural slate.
  • Roof tiles are highly durable, and ordering tiles to meet specific demands is quite simple.
  • While roof tiles typically don’t require much maintenance, examining them regularly and repairing any cracked or broken ones as needed is still necessary.
  • Natural slates vary in color, composition, and texture depending on where they are quarried.
  • Welsh, Spanish, and Brazilian slates are the most common types of natural slate.
  • Manufactured slates are low-profile fiber cement with smooth surfaces and square-cut edges.
  • Be cautious when installing clay tile or slate, as they require additional support due to their weight.

If you own a business property, you know that roofing is one of the most significant components of your structure. It not only protects your valuables from the weather, but it also says something about your company. When deciding on the quality material for your roof, many elements, including the budget, aesthetics, and location, will come into play.

Many property owners debate whether to use roofing slates or clay tiles, two of the most common roofing materials. But how can you determine which one is best for your structure? In this blog, Priority Roofing will look at the technicalities, benefits, and drawbacks to help you choose the proper roof covering for your building project.

Understanding Roof Clay Tiles:

Roof tiles are manufactured by burning clay in a kiln. They are available in a far greater choice of designs and colors than natural slate since they are manufactured. This might make a roof tile more appealing to people looking for a specific color or design impact.


Roof tiles are made of highly durable materials, and choosing them means choosing a sturdy, lasting material with a lifespan of more than 50 years, and frequently above 100 years in the case of clay roof tiles.


Naturally, price is a consideration, and roof tiles are less expensive per square meter than natural slate, making them more suitable for projects on a tight budget. Clay tiles are best for people that require a long-lasting, practical roof tile that isn’t overly complicated.


Roof clay tiles are highly adaptable and are created in a broad range of sizes, forms, and colors, with a greater range of accessories than slates, allowing tiles to be used on slopes, and exterior corners on vertical building face, for example. As a result, even if the project is more involved, such as an unusual roof form, ordering tiles to meet specific demands is quite simple.

Construction Time and Maintenance:

Since tiles are manufactured, they do not require on-site sorting and grading like slates and are typically quicker to lay and place onto the roof; thus, finishing your project is more manageable and may take less time. Many roof tiles may be put at significantly lower pitches than slates, making them appropriate for low-pitch applications such as single-story expansions. While roof tiles are typically simple maintenance, it is still necessary to examine them regularly and repair any cracked or broken ones as needed, as well as avoid moss buildup.

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Understanding Roof Slates:

Roof slates are classified into two types: natural slates and manufactured slates.

Natural slates vary in color, composition, and texture depending on where they are quarried, with Welsh slates, Spanish slates, and Brazilian slates being the most common. They are available in various sizes, but the size is purely cosmetic and has no influence on a slate roof’s weather resilience or lifespan.

Welsh Slates:

Welsh slates are extracted throughout North Wales and have been a prominent roof covering since Victorian times. Because this is a premium product quarried by British craftspeople, and demand outstrips supply, it should be considered a premium roofing material for projects where price ‘is no concern.’

Spanish Slate:

For decades, Spanish slates have been the best-selling natural slate: they have a similar appearance to Welsh slates, have striking shade variations, will not fade even in direct sunlight or harsh conditions, and are available at a quarter of the cost of Welsh slates, making them the most popular natural slate year after year. The price of these slates reflects the quality and consequent warranty length; nonetheless, with Spanish slates, you are guaranteed a wonderful-looking roof that is reasonably easy to lay and has a long service life.

Brazilian slate:

Brazilian slate is a relatively new type of natural slate on the market. It is becoming increasingly popular because of its low cost and attractive appearance. These slates are extracted from quarries in Brazil and have a smooth, consistent surface with minimal color variation.

Manufactured slates:

Manufactured slates are low-profile fiber cement slates with smooth surfaces and square cut edges that provide a sleek, visually beautiful finish. They are among the toughest slates available and are popular with architects and roofers due to their minimal waste and simplicity of installation. They are suitable for both roofing and vertical building facade applications. Because these slates are recyclable and have a minimal carbon impact, it is simple to understand why they are a popular choice for all new construction and renovation projects.

Be cautious!

Due to the exceptionally high weight of clay tile and slate, supplementary roof support systems are frequently required when installing these materials. Even with additional support, the weight of these items can contribute to the ultimate collapse of a structure in the case of a structural fire or earthquake. It should also be noted that tile and slate are brittle and can fracture and break when stepped on. This might make routine maintenance, such as gutter cleaning and painting, difficult. If the tiles become loose in severe winds, they may blow away and cause damage to nearby structures.

Which One Is Right for Your Commercial Building?

It depends on various factors, including the climate, the building’s usage, and your budget. Slate is an excellent choice for buildings in cold climates because it doesn’t absorb heat or moisture. It’s also a good choice for historic buildings because it has a long lifespan. However, slate is one of the most expensive roofing materials.

Clay tile is a good choice for buildings in warm climates because it reflects heat and doesn’t absorb moisture. It’s also a good choice for buildings with flat roofs because it can withstand high winds. However, clay tile is susceptible to damage from hail and needs to be replaced more frequently than slate.

Trust Priority Roofing for installing clay, tile, and slate roofing in San Antonio. We offer a 20-year craftsmanship warranty and no-leak assurances on our commercial roof systems, so you can rest assured that your investment is secure!

Request a free estimate today!