The practice of using tiles to cover roofs dates back thousands of years to Ancient China. As with many historical traditions and inventions, the first tiles were brought to Britain by the Romans, although it wasn’t until several hundred years later that the use of tiles became commonplace in this country. In the 13th century, tiled roofs started to replace thatched roofs as this was seen as a way of preventing the spread of fire.
Similarly, the Romans used Welsh slate as a roofing material in Britain as far back as the 2nd century AD. Slate was then used more extensively from the 13th century onwards. At first, slate was predominantly used in Wales and the North West where they had ready access to the raw materials. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution, with the expansion of the railways that slate could be more easily transported around the country.
Concrete tiles were first made in Europe in the 18th century and were introduced to Britain in the 1920s. Although they were not popular at first, investment was made into the automation of concrete tile production in the 1960s to cope with the massive demand in new housing.
So, with all these choices available, how do you decide which option to go with for your roof?
If you are renovating your home, then you may want to choose reclaimed clay tiles to help retain the character of the property. As they are a manufactured product, clay tiles come in various sizes and colours. They retain their character over time and, as the colour is baked in, they weather naturally and don’t tend to fade, unlike concrete tiles. Many clay tiles have been in place for over a hundred years.
As well as traditional handmade tiles, clay tiles can also now be machine-made which means they are more uniform and a cheaper option.
If you are starting your build from scratch then you may want to go with a cheaper option, such as a reclaimed concrete tile. Concrete tiles are cheaper due to the shorter manufacturing time compared to clay tiles. They come in a wide range of colours. Concrete tiles are more uniform in appearance due to the manufacturing process. They come in larger sizes which means installation is quicker. However, they are also heavier than clay tiles so will require more support.
If you are looking for a natural product for your roof, then reclaimed slate is the best option for you. Slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock which is mined and split into thin layers. With it being a natural product, this makes it very durable. Slate comes in a range of different sizes. If you have an older property, slate will give it a more authentic look.