Shakes and shingles are the most popular types of roofing materials in North-America. 2/3 of all North-American homes have asphalt shingles. On the other hand, clay tiles are the most common roofing choice in many parts of Europe and worldwide.
Which raises the question: which is the best choice?
The short answer: There isn’t a "best". Climates issues, local prices and practices, and personal preferences count a lot.
Clay tiles vs. asphalt shingles
Clay ceramic tiles can be a good option where they are common, but asphalt shingles – though with downsides — can also be a very reasonable choice in North America cold and mixed climates, where they are cheap, especially algae-resistant shingles (non-dry climates).
Light-colored clay tiles are a good choice to keep your roof cool, which is very important in hot climates.
They are among the best rated products for “cool roofs”: their "reflectance" is about 70% on a 0-100% scale, which is comparable to the new white anodized aluminum and white galvanized steel roofs.
Though they come in a wide range of colors, the lighter ones are the best to protect the roof from solar heat.
Other advantages of clay tiles:
- their ability to be recycled.
- their durability in mixed and temperate or hot climates: there are porous and and low quality tiles that do not long last; but good quality ceramic tiles can last many decades without needing any special maintenance, withstanding very harsh winds, hail and other very adverse weather conditions.
New asphalt shingles
Asphalt shingles can now be engineered to provide a better reflectivity. Manufacturers are using a highly reflective granule technology to reflect the sun's rays and to help keep roofs cooler.
These “cool shingles” meet the solar “reflectance” required by the North American Energy Star program (25%) and the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRCC).
But their main advantage (in North America) is their low price and good thermal performance in cold climates.
High rated Asphalt shingles
If your cooling costs are not significant and you prefer asphalt shingles, choose products qualified by the Energy Star program and the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC). They meet the California Title 24 requirements or the ASTM D 225 and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM); fiberglass shingles should meet the ASTM D 3462 standards.
Energy Star manufacturers list:
Ceramic tiles in North America
If you are interested in ceramic tiles, consider products that meet the Energy Star program standards. They are more energy-efficient and will last longer.