How Much Do Roof Coverings Cost in 2023? Clay, Concrete, Slate & More

Your choice of roof covering will make a big impact on how your home looks – but how much budget should you set aside? Here we’re investigating the price points for the main roof coverings
Articles by Build It magazine
by Build It magazine
18th August 2023

The roof covering you choose for your bespoke home project should be considered early to ensure you’re making the right decision, both cost and design-wise. Your roof is there to protect and insulate your home, but it will also contribute to its overall look and feel, helping your build to make a statement or blend in.

Your choice will come down to more than aesthetics and product costs, however. The weight of different roofing materials must be considered, so check with a structural engineer which type your building’s structure can support.

Clay or slate tiles tend to be heavier than metal options, for instance. Your roof’s pitch will also have an impact, as coverings have different minimum or maximum thresholds for steepness. Consider location, too. For example, is your home close to the coast? Will it be subject to strong winds?

Planning stipulations should also be factored in. You’re likely to face restrictions if you’re building in a conservation area or if you’re renovating a listed home. In these kinds of scenarios, planners tend to favour options that’ll remain in keeping with the local architecture. This might involve assigning more budget to handmade or bespoke coverings that can replicate vernacular materials.

Whatever kind of project you’re doing, your home’s roof covering will add a great deal to the finished result – but how much should you expect to spend? Let’s take a look at the most popular options and their prices.

Clay Roof Tiles: Costs & Considerations

Clay roof tiles are one of the most popular options. “They’re made from natural materials, so will blend well with your home’s surroundings and look even better as they age,” says Bernie Fyans, area sales manager at Dreadnought Tiles. This roof covering has a particular charm that’s difficult to replicate with other roofing products, so they’re favoured by planners when working on heritage-style projects. They’re available in a selection of colours to suit your particular home, from deep blues to rich terracottas.

Be aware, however, that clay is a heavy material, so you need to check that your roof’s structure and pitch can take its weight before specifying this option. “Clay tiles should only be used on roofs with a pitch of at least 35°,” recommends Bernie.

Read More: Choosing Roof Tiles: Concrete or Clay?

Base Architects chose Dreadnought Tiles’ Staffordshire Blue machine-made clay tiles for the roof of this renovation and extension project in East Shropshire. The tiles have a distinctive colour, which appears when the kiln’s heat turns the clay’s iron content to blue

COST The cost of clay roof tiles will depend largely on the manufacturing process and shade/colour selected. According to Bernie, machine-made tiles will be more affordable, starting at around £40 per m² , with handmade tiles sitting at the top end at up to £100 per m². As with most roof coverings, you’ll want to use a specialist installer.

“Clay tiles are rarely uniform in size, and will need to be measured and cut carefully by an experienced roofer to avoid any excess breakages,” says Turrou Landesmann, trading manager at Roofing Superstore. Account for this in your budget, as the average cost for a roofer can cost from £25 – £40 per hour.

Clay roof tiles are available in a wide variety of shades and formats to suit your home. Terracotta shades, like these handmade clay tiles from Roofing Superstore, make for a unique, variegated pattern

Concrete Roof Tiles: Costs & Considerations

Concrete tiles are a versatile roofing option. They’re made by combining water, cement and sand, which is moulded into tiles under high pressure. You can choose from a range of colours and profiles, such as curved or flat, and some products even replicate slate. It’s worth noting, though, that concrete units can weather poorly and lose their initial aesthetic appeal.

They’re also more prone to cracking than clay versions, attracting moisture, moss and lichen over time. “Concrete tiles are also much heavier than clay tiles, so it’s important to check that your roof deck and overall structure can take the weight,” says Turrou.

COST The tiles themselves are affordable. “Individual concrete tiles can start from £0.64, with a palette of 192 units starting at around £325,” says Turrou. The weight is worth factoring into your budget, just in case any roof reinforcement is required. “Make sure to order 5% more tiles than you need as a continency for any breakages during installation, too,” says Turrou.

Learn More: 10 Ways to Maximise Your Self Build Budget

CLOSER LOOK How much do flat roofing coverings cost?

Incorporating a flat roof will add a striking, contemporary look. Materials choices differ compared to pitched as water-resistant features need to be carefully considered. Here are the most popular flat roof material options:

SINGLE PLY This option is easy to install for self builders and will last well if looked after. The most well-known types are EPDM and PVC, which are both extremely durable and secure. A single ply membrane is installed by applying sheets onto the roof, which are heated to form a tight, waterproof surface. This option is affordable, too – you can expect to pay around £15 per m² for just the material.

BITUMEN Reinforced bitumen membrane roofing is asphalt-based and simple to maintain and install. It’s affordable, highly waterproof and can last 20+ years. It comes in rolls and is fitted by laying the covering over the roof’s structure and then heat blasted. Bitumen roofs start from £13 per m² plus installation.

Standing seam zinc gives this flat roof extension, by George & James Architects, the wow factor. Photo: Megan Taylor

GRP GLASS Reinforced Plastic is a strong yet lightweight roofing solution, often used as a modern alternative to lead. It’s made through applying a polyester resin over glass fibres. The material itself is slightly more expensive than other flat roof options, but because it’s so durable it’ll prove worth the investment. It will cost around £40 per m² for just the material and can last well over 20 years.

GREEN ROOFS These are great for adding wow factor to a flat roof. They’ll help your build blend more carefully into the surroundings and will become a new haven for wildlife, which can be particularly great in urban areas. When specifying a green roof, be sure the roof structure can support the soil and foliage above as it grows. estimates you could spend £75-£130 per m² on a green roof.

Read More: Flat Roof Extensions: Here’s What You Need to Know

Slate Roof Tiles: Costs & Considerations

Slate roofing is a long-standing favourite as it’s versatile, high-quality and long lasting. “A well-maintained slate roof can last up to 150 years,” says Turrou. These tiles are manufactured from natural stone, so they’re water and fireproof, making an extremely safe option that’ll keep your home’s structure protected for decades.

Slates are available in a range of designs and tones, too. In the UK, Welsh varieties are popular for their distinct blue-grey hue, as well as Spanish and Brazilian traditional stone slates. Composite slates are also becoming more widely used, as they can create a slate-like look at a lower price. These are manufactured as uniform tiles, so won’t necessarily replicate the individuality of handmade slates, but they’re a great option for those on a tight budget.

Levitate Architecture and Design Studio chose Cupa Pizarras’ CUPA 12 slate roof tiles for this home in a conservation area. The traditional feel of the slate helped with planning permission, with a sleek finish that sits well on the steep pitched roofs and overhanging eaves

COST Slate is a premium roofing option – both material and installation-wise. Prices will be influenced by the quality of the slate, and the location it has come from. Spanish slate tends to be more affordable, but will involve importing materials. Expect to pay a similar ballpark to handmade clay tiles for imported slates (starting from around £100 per m²), and significantly more for home-grown products. You’ll need to factor in installation on top.

How Much Does Metal Roofing Cost?

Copper is one of the best-known metal roofing materials, offering great aesthetic appeal. It can be bought as sheets or tiles, suitable for both pitched and flat roof structures. Copper can be fitted in its initial bronze form, which will develop a green hue and charming patina over time. It’s also available pre-weathered. Many designers favour its longevity and ability to create a wow-factor design, such as on conical roofs or for fascia and guttering details.

Although copper’s a lightweight material, it’s extremely weather resistant and will repel mould or moss, so can last over 50 years if maintained well – adding significant value.
Other roof metals include the likes of zinc and galvanised steel, both of which will add a sleek, contemporary look to a home. These can be laid in a variety of profiles, from standing seam to corrugated, depending on your style preferences. Similar to copper, these solutions are a great weather-resistant option, standing up against rust and corrosion – this is important in coastal locations.

COST Copper is a unique material so needs to be handled carefully by a specialist when installed. A copper roof can cost up to £150 per m2, with installation costs from around £150-£200 per m².

If you want to get the look on a lower budget, consider copper-style metal tiles.
For the materials themselves, zinc roof coverings can cost around £40-50 per m². while steel will come in cheaper with some starting from £30 per m².

Read More: Roof Design: Roofing Materials, Construction and Planning

Roofing Design Details

Don’t underestimate the plethora of options that go with the roof covering specification, some of which enhance both aesthetics and performance. At the ridge your options include wet or dry installations and, dependent on the use of your attic, the need for vented ridge tiles.

Prices start at the lower level for hip tiles although bonnet hips or cut mitres look much nicer but inevitably cost more. In the valleys you can use fibreglass trays, lead sheet or most pleasing of all (but again the most expensive) swept valley tiles.

At the eaves, where your roof overhangs the gable, there are traditional and modern detailing options. At soffit level, some designs lend themselves to open rafter feet, which means more work for your trades but can make a building look thoroughly authentic.

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