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How to Choose Wisely When You Buy Roof Tiles in South Africa

The roof is one of the most important structures of the building, and often one of the most costly elements of the renovation or construction.  A variety of different roofing materials is available, and one has to choose carefully when deciding on the type of roof and materials to use for that particular building. 


Often, roof construction is influenced by climate – for instance, flat roofs are not practical in areas where it snows often, while high pitched roofs are not always practical in high-wind areas.  The materials with which the roof is covered is also very important and must also be aligned with the climate. It must also be properly installed with suitable insulation and underlays where necessary.  Fortunately, tiles are suited to most climates, but even so, you have to choose well when you buy roof tiles in South Africa.

Clay vs Concrete Tiles

The most commonly found types of roof tiles in this country are made of clay or concrete.  Both of these are inherently suited to the climate in this country, but both have their own pros and cons, and it is important to make an informed decision when you choose between them. 

Here are some of the factors to consider before you buy roof tiles in South Africa:

  • Weight:  Concrete tiles are heavier than clay tiles, and the roof structure has to be equipped and able to bear the weight of the tile.  The weight also influences the pitch of the roof, and it is therefore essential that the decision about the type of tile is made before the roof structure is designed or built.  Ensure that the tile is chosen and the approximate weight accurately established during the design and planning of the building.
  • Water absorption:  Concrete tiles tend to absorb more water than clay tiles, and this may lead to mildew and stains, and added weight to the roof structure, although modern concrete tiles are often treated with special coatings to prevent water absorption, algae and mildew.  Clay tiles tend to absorb less water but can still be affected by algae and moss.  If clay tiles are glazed or treated, they become less likely to absorb water.
  • Cracking & shattering:  Constant freezing and thawing in a cold climate can cause clay tiles to crack or shatter.  Concrete tiles are not adversely affected by these issues and are therefore a better choice for cold climates. 
  • Appearance:  Many people are swayed by the rustic look of clay tiles, and they tend to look good over long periods of time.  With new developments in the manufacture of concrete tiles, they can look just as good and similar in appearance to clay tiles. 
  • Cost:  As there are not many clay tile manufacturers where one can buy roof tiles in South Africa, clay tiles are generally imported and therefore cost more.  Concrete tiles, however, are locally manufactured, easily available and cost less as a result.
  • Maintenance:  Both clay tiles and modern concrete tiles are very low on maintenance.  On occasion, mildew may have to be removed and cracked tiles replaced, but both roof types are very practical and highly functional over long periods of time.
  • After-sales support:  As most clay tiles are imported, it could be difficult to find suppliers or experts that can provide adequate support and advice after the sale has been made.  With the popularity of concrete tiles increasing and more manufacturers specialising in the production and sales of these tiles, professional assistance and specialised services are more freely available.  There are, however, certain tile suppliers that sell both clay and concrete tiles, and these tend to have their own tile specialists to advise and provide after-sales service on both types of tiles.
  • Environmental impact:  As clay is a natural resource, it is environmentally friendly, but in certain places clay reserves may become limited, and the emissions creating during manufacture can be high.  Concrete tiles are also environmentally friendly and are produced with lower emissions, which make them a better choice for those who are serious about their carbon footprint.

If you still cannot decide whether to choose clay or concrete when you buy roof tiles in South Africa, contact our experts at Marley Roofing.  We supply both concrete and clay tiles, and we are equipped to give you the best advice and provide information to enable you to make the best choice for your building.