The roof is the single most important part of a home’s exterior. It is what protects your home and belongings from the elements, while at the same time adding to its appearance and curb appeal. A well-maintained roof says a lot about a home and helps prevent many issues, such as water damage, mold, and mildew indoors.Two of the most frequently used materials for roofs are tiles and shingles. Both provide an attractive, durable roof that will cover and protect your home. But they look and are made in very different ways. We outline the differences between the two below so that you can make a more informed decision about which one will be right for your home.

The South Indian vernacular has fascinating examples of architecture using a variety of materials and techniques. Thatch/grass is one of the earliest found materials used to cover shelters. Local, mature grass reeds are cleaned, dried, tied, and woven to be used as roofing. It is still used in varied roofing techniques, but alternate materials have replaced thatch roofs over the last two centuries. The history of roofing in most of South India starts with basic woven thatch roofs and then progresses to roofs in trabeated stone (with beams and columns). These roofs have layers of dressed stone slabs. The other kinds of roofs in the region are made of bamboo and mud, which are combined with various local leaves to make the roofs waterproof. In the 18th century, examples of Madras flat terraces—which were much more structured roofs made with burnt brick, wooden rafters, and lime plaster—were common.Later it changed to clay tiled roof,now the trend is roofing shingles.

Traditional clay tile roofing

Clay Tiles have been the most popular roofing material since ages. These tiles are made by baking red clay at a very high temperature in the kiln. The porous structure of the roof tiles gives you a cool breezing effect also.

Even Though one of the oldest and the most famous in the market, the clay tiles comes with a lot of drawbacks. The main one being the inability of the red clay tiles to withstand varying temperatures. The red clay is drawn to algae and fungus. Often the bright reddish colour of the red clay fades within 2-5 years due to the weather conditions. The density of red clay is lesser when compared to the white clay, so more amount of red clay is needed to make the tiles stronger. Due to this, red clay are normally heavier than white clay and needs more truss work. The water absorption of clay tiles are also high, since the base material is standard clay itself.

Identifying Common Problems and Failures

While clay roofing tiles themselves are most likely to deteriorate because of frost damage, a clay tile roof system most commonly fails due to the breakdown of the fastening system. As the wooden pegs that fastened the early tiles to hand-riven battens rotted, they were often replaced with iron nails which are themselves easily corroded by tannic acid from oak battens or sheathing. The deterioration of metal flashing, valleys, and gutters can also lead to the failure of a clay tile roof.

Another area of potential failure of a historic clay tile roof is the support system. Clay tiles are heavy and it is important that the roof structure be sound. If gutters and downspouts are allowed to fill with debris, water can back up and seep under roofing tiles, causing the eventual deterioration of roofing battens, the sheathing and fastening system, or even the roof’s structural members. During freezing weather, ice can build up under tiles and cause breakage during the freeze/thaw cycle. Thus, as with any type of roof, water and improperly maintained rainwater removal and drainage systems are also chief causes for the failure of historic clay tile roofs.

Clay tiles may be either handcrafted or machine-made; in general, roofs installed before the end of the 19th century consist of hand formed tiles, with machine-made tiles becoming more dominant as technology improved during the 20th century. Clay tile itself, whether made by hand or made by machine, can vary in quality from tile to tile. Efflorescence of soluble salts on the surface may indicate that a tile has excessive porosity which results from under-burning during its manufacture. Poor quality porous tiles are particularly susceptible to breaking and exterior surface spalling during freeze-thaw cycles. By letting in moisture, porous tiles can permit the roof battens and roof structure to rot. The problem may be compounded by waterproof building paper or building felt laid underneath which can, in some instances, prevent adequate ventilation.

Clay roofing tiles can also be damaged by roofers walking carelessly on an unprotected roof while making repairs, or by overhanging tree branches, falling tree limbs, or heavy hail. Broken tiles may no longer provide a continuous waterproof surface, thereby allowing water to penetrate the roofing structure, and may eventually result in its deterioration if the broken tiles are not replaced in a timely manner.

Although modern, machine-made clay tiles are more uniform in appearance than their handmade counterparts, they also have the potential for failure. Occasionally, entire batches of mass-produced tile can be defective.


Most people are not familiar with the asphalt  shingle roof. It is made of flexible shingles that are installed overlapping one another. Thicker shingles have been developed that add more dimension and structure to the roof and more closely mimic the effects of materials like slate. They come in a range of colors, and they may have some variation or texture or appear more flat depending on the exact brand and style you choose.

Roofing shingles are Fiberglass reinforced, high grade, Mineral- stabilized asphalt based mats which are overlaid with high strength ceramic coated granules and underlaid with a mineral stabilizer cum fire-retardant


Shingles roofing gleams with shine. It is hardly a new roofing concept. Singles are a suitable material for sloping roofs, not flat roofs. The use of shingles is primarily meant for decorative purposes. Using them for decoration on flat roofs is out of question. Many are not in the know of what a roof shingle is. It is a kind of covering for the roofs constructed of shingles. In such a case of roofing, the roofing material and the covering overlap each other. The advantages of shingle roofs are

  •  Attractiveness

Asphalt shingles are available in a kaleidoscope of colors to complement the style and color scheme of your home. Your roof appearance options don’t end there, however. You can choose asphalt roofing that mimics slate or cedar or sequoia wood roofing. And there are many other options.

  •  Variety

Your asphalt shingle roof can be unique, and look completely different from your neighbor due to the wide choice of asphalt shingle shapes. You can choose a neat, flat, uniform look (done with long, rectangular, asphalt shingles in a flat, edge-to-edge configuration). More often, you’ll see overlapping asphalt shingles that are relatively uniform in shape and color, but appear different shades because of the 3D overlapped effect. Natural-looking,rough-edged shingles are also an option.

  • Consume relatively low energy

How well a roof consumes energy matters most as far as the level of heating and cooling in the house is concerned. Cool roofs are an important element in any house since they ensure that certain requirements –cooling and heating –are achieved and maintained through the deflection of solar heat and sunlight. Some types of shingles come in cool colors though they retain their reflective abilities.

  • Environmentally friendly

Asphalt shingles are environmentally friendly because they can be recycled. They are better in terms of the quality after recycling in comparison to other materials such as plastic, which degrades upon continuous recycling. In addition, some organizations have specialized in the disposal of shingles, and this ensures that only an insignificant fraction of shingles gets to the environment.

  • Better lifespan

The shingles available today have a better lifespan in comparison to what was available in the past. In spite of this, it does not imply that the traditional ones had a short lifespan. The traditional three-tab shingles, if well maintained, can last from 20 to 30 years. However, a long-term performance is expected especially when you install the shingles on a complete roof. Ultimately, using asphalt shingles for your roofing will give you value for money.

  • Durable

The durability level of Asphalt Shingles is high compared to other roofing materials available in the market. These shingles are designed to offer resistance against extreme natural events such as rain, snow, and temperatures among others. Also, these types of roofing materials come with a vent to release any moisture or heat trapped in the roof’s attic.