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The 3 most common types of tile used in Arizona are concrete, clay, and sand cast. All three are beautiful, and both clay and concrete tiles are long-lasting. Here are some of the differences:

Concrete tiles:

  • Are made of Portland cement, sand and water.
  • Are less expensive than clay.
  • Eventually lose their color under the hot Arizona sun.
  • Are a bit less fragile than clay, so they don’t break as easily.

Clay tiles:

  • Are made by baking molded clay into tiles. Some are glazed to hold their color.
  • Last longer than concrete. Some say clay can last for thousands of years.
  • Are easier to break than concrete; you should avoid walking on them.
  • Won’t burn or rot.
  • Usually don’t fade in the sun.

Sand cast tiles:

  • Usually are made in Mexico in two pieces:  a bottom layer or “pan,” and a top layer or “cap.”
  • Are more expensive than clay or concrete tiles, partly because so many break during installation.
  • Have a rustic appearance, created in part by the cement grout used to install them.
  • Require an asphalt roof system underneath.
  • Are not walk able. Stay off of them! They are easily damaged by hail and falling objects

Tile roofing, which lasts a long time and won’t rot or burn under a scorching summer sun, is a great choice for Arizona rooftops. And nothing says “Southwestern style” quite like it.

Longevity. A concrete tile roof will last and last, and clay tile will probably last longer than any other kind of roofing material. Some manufacturers estimate their product will last 50 years, but many Arizona homes sport tile roofs that are older. 

. Clay, concrete and sand-cast tiles make a beautiful roof that gives a home a distinctly Southwestern flair.

Improvements. Manufacturers are making concrete tile to look like wood shakes—but without the fire danger. And they’re coming out with lighter-weight tiles.

Other. Tiles are fireproof and resist rot and insects.



Weight. Most tiles are so heavy that your roof needs reinforcement to support its weight. If you’re replacing a shingled roof with tiles, you’ll need to hire a structural engineer (cost: $400 – $600) to tell you where to beef up the wood in the attic to hold the extra weight. Then you might have to spend $1,500 or so on adding that woodwork, in addition to paying for the tile. 

Fragile. Walking on tiles can break them, so repairs and maintenance are better left to professionals who are skilled at maneuvering on a tile roof without damaging anything. That includes painting your home’s trim or cleaning rain gutters and chimneys.

Maintenance: Your concrete tiles will last just about forever. But the underlayment—the material they lie on—will go bad every eight to 20 years, depending on the quality of the material. If you don’t replace the underlayment, your roof could leak and your tiles could break. Your roofer will remove your tiles, replace the underlayment, and then re-install your old tiles on top of the new underlayment.

Price: Tile roofing is expensive. Concrete tiles, for instance, cost around $350 – $400 a square installed, depending if you are putting on a new roof or simply reinstalling the old tiles over a new underlayment (a square is a 10-foot by 10-foot area. The pitched roof of a 2,400-square foot home has about 35 squares).

  • Sanderson Ford

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