Design and decoration

Concrete tile versus metal roof

Mark Bryson - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What is the best choice of roof for your new home – concrete tiles or Colorbond metal? There are benefits and disadvantages for both materials and often is comes down to which roof the homeowner prefers the look of.

Concrete tiles have been the preferred roof material for Melbourne houses for about 75 years. Tiles come in a variety of designs and colours, offering both a traditional or more modern look. Concrete or cement tiles are most commonly used, although terracotta tiles, which are incredibly long-lasting, are available at about double the price of concrete tiles.

Colorbond roofing offers clean lines and a modern look and is essential to recreate the traditional Aussie curved verandah. Colorbond roofs have improved dramatically in recent years. The process to bond paint onto galvanised iron creates a material resistant to corrosion, peeling and cracking. Colorbond also come in a wide range of colours.

The big difference between the two materials is the weight. Metal roofing weighs just ten percent of concrete tiles, and subsequently needs less roof framing and more widely spaced rafters.

Colorbond also weighs the same whether it’s wet or dry, while concrete tiles absorb quite a lot of moisture, which needs to be taken into account when building the roof supports.

Concrete tiles are more cost-effective to install but cost more to maintain. This is because the tiles are quite fragile and can be cracked and leak, especially if they are walked upon. It is common for fading to occur within about five years.

In contrast, Colorbond can have a life of 50 years or more without major maintenance. 

In rural areas, bushfire regulations recommend Colourbond roofs as they are easier to seal against embers. This also deters rodents getting into the ceiling cavity.

Once a metal roof has been installed, however, it can be very difficult to add skylights, vents or flues. The noise from rain and wind can be greater with a Colorbond roof compared to a tiled roof, but noise can be minimised using insulation and acoustic blankets.

The trend in recent years to collect rainwater for garden watering has led to an increased demand for Colorbond roofing. Metal roofs are superior for water collection as they don’t absorb water like tiles do, and the water is cleaner.

Colorbond roofing per metre is about 20 percent dearer than concrete tiles, but this is offset by the reduction in roofing timber needed.

Berstan Homes managing director, Mark Bryson, believes Colorbond is a better roofing choice as there is fewer potential maintenance problems. However, he says it comes down to the design of the house and personal choice of the owner.

Berstan Homes is happy to work with clients’ personal preferences when building a custom built new home.