When choosing a roof for your new home, you’ll most likely be faced with a choice between the two most popular Australian roofing methods – traditional concrete tiles or corrugated metal roofing with a bonded paint finish, otherwise known as Colorbond or CB.

While concrete tiles have been used throughout Australia for over 75 years and remain the first choice for many homeowners, installations of Colorbond roofs has increased significantly in recent years. Originally developed in the USA, the technique of bonding paint to a galvanised base has undergone extensive refinements here in Australia to create a non-combustible roofing material. It also not only has outstanding resistance to corrosion, chipping, peeling, and cracking, but also offers an aesthetically pleasing solution for all kinds of roofs.

Concrete tiles and Colorbond both have their merits, and although sometimes it just comes down to personal preference, it’s important to understand the qualities of both materials in order to make an informed decision suitable for your particular home.

Taking a look at the aesthetics

There’s no doubt that concrete tile roofs continue to be a popular and cost-effective way of recreating the appearance of more expensive terracotta tiles. They’re available in a variety of colours to contrast or complement the rest of the building, and with the advent of new production techniques, you can either opt for a traditional look for your roof or something more modern.

Colorbond roofs are characterised by their clean lines, providing a crisp, modern look. Colorbond comes in a wide range of colours, suiting all kinds of locations and tastes, so aesthetically speaking, it’s all down to personal preference when it comes to choosing between the two roofing options.

A more lightweight option

One major advantage of using Colorbond over concrete tiles is the difference in weight. Colorbond is extremely lightweight, meaning that much lighter roof framing can be utilised and rafters can be spaced wider apart. Unlike concrete tiles, which tend to absorb a percentage of rainwater before it runs off, Colorbond roofing weighs the same whether it’s wet or dry. If you’re considering adding a traditional Australian verandah to your property, it’s advised that you choose Colorbond roofing, as it’s suitable for use with flat roofs, minor pitches, and steep pitches.

Resilience, weathering and thermal insulation

The Colorbond manufacturing process produces a material that is far more resilient and weather-resistant than traditional concrete tiles, thus requiring less money on maintenance. Colorbond can withstand pretty much anything the Australian weather can throw at it, and it’s also non-combustible. However, this resilience can be a disadvantage if you need to add a vent, flue, or air conditioning after the roof has been installed, as it’s extremely difficult to penetrate.

You’ll also find that Colorbond has exceptional thermal insulation qualities, meaning a possible reduction in energy costs, but you must ensure that there is adequate ventilation in the roof space to minimise the effects of condensation.

Looking at maintenance costs

It’s worth taking maintenance costs into account before making your decision. Concrete tiles are more fragile than corrugated metal, making them more prone to cracking and leakages. It’s also more common to experience ridge capping problems and leaf blockages with concrete tiles.

You should also factor in colour oxidation and deterioration, as concrete tiles can fade significantly within five years of installation. A Colorbond roof makes these problems practically disappear, with minimal maintenance required and colours staying true for many years.

Noise abatement

In the past, traditional corrugated metal roofing has meant that the sound of rainfall was amplified throughout the home. While this is true to some extent with Colorbond roofs, it’s possible to minimise the noise with the use of acoustic blankets, foil, and insulation. Many people enjoy listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops on their roof, and prefer to choose Colorbond for this very reason! However, if you feel this would be an issue for you, you may prefer a concrete tiled roof instead.

Benefits of metal roofs

Metal roofing provides plenty of advantages and is a popular choice – particularly for its longevity and curb appeal. Here are the top benefits of metal roofs:

  • Longevity: Metal roofs can last from anywhere between 40-70 years, depending on the type of material.
  • Durability: Metal roofs are able to withstand nearly any type of weather conditions including rain, wind, snow, hail, and heat. There are types of metal roofing that even come with fire resistance. Because of their sun reflective coatings, metal roofs also have improved insulation.
  • Easy to maintain: Metal roofs, especially Colorbond roofing material, comes with a 25-year warranty, as well as a flaking and chipping warranty of 12 years. In this time, you won’t need any maintenance at all, aside from the removal of any heavy dirt or grime which can be done with a hose and soap solution.
  • Energy-efficient: Metal roofs reflect solar heat, which can reduce cooling costs by 10-25%.
  • Environmentally friendly: Metal roofs have a recyclable content depending on the material used, and are also 100% recyclable at the end of their lifecycle.

The challenges of metal roofs

One of the biggest and only disadvantages of metal roofs is the cost. Although it’s off-set by its durability, metal roofing can be expensive to install, which may make it out of reach for some homeowners. Generally, metal roofing is as much as two to three times more expensive than other roofing materials. Other disadvantages include:

  • Noisiness: Although metal roofs are durable in all types of weather conditions, it can be very noisy during rain or hailstorms. To fix this, it’s possible to install soundproofing insulation, however, this is another added cost.
  • Performance: Sometimes metal roofing can trap rising moisture and turn to liquid as the roof cools during the night. This can result in damage and is more common if the roof or installation was installed improperly.
  • Colour matching: If in need of repair or in the case of a home extension, it may be difficult to find an exact colour match to the existing roof.

Benefits of tile roofs

The most common roof tiles used in Australia are cement/concrete tiles and terracotta. Both options provide a great, classic aesthetic to the home and come in a range of shapes and finishes. They are also ideal for the hotter Australian climate, or homes that have exposure to salt air. Other benefits of tile roofs include:

  • Longevity: A tile roof can last for up to 100 years and are known to withstand hail, high winds, and even fire. Most manufacturers provide a 50-year warranty with tile roofing. Tiles are also impervious to rot, rust and insect damage and will never decay.
  • Soundproofing: Unlike metal roofs, tile roofing has great sound insulation and acoustic performance.
  • Environmentally friendly: Tiles are derived from earth minerals and can be pulverized or recycled once removed or at the end of their lifecycle.
  • Energy-efficient: The heavy thermal mass of roof tiles helps to regulate temperatures indoors, providing excellent thermal insulation.

Disadvantages of tile roofs

While tile roofing has a reputation for being durable and long-lasting, there is a chance of breaking upon installation, as well as structural damage due to their heavy weight. Other challenges one might face with tile roofs include:

  • Difficult installation: Installing roof tiles requires professional roofers to measure, lay and check for any gaps or inconsistencies.
  • Need for ongoing maintenance: Although durable in the right conditions, tiles are brittle. Clay, slate and concrete tiles can break if they suffer a heavy impact such as a falling tree, or being walked on. Extreme weather and shifts in a home’s foundation may even cause tiles to shift, resulting in roof leaks. Because of this, tile roofing will need regular maintenance and repairs.
  • High costs: Depending on the material of tile used, installation can be costly. Usually, concrete tiles are the most cost-effective, with slate tiles the more expensive option.

Taking cost into consideration

Finally, if the cost is the most important factor in your decision, then you’ll find that concrete tiles can be more cost-effective to install. However, when factoring in the costs of future maintenance, it will be higher for concrete tiles than Colorbond roofing. So again, while the roofing materials have their own similarities and differences, it all comes down to personal preference when choosing between the two.

Doing your research before making a decision

It is important to seek out a quote from an experienced home building specialist and provide details of your project for the best possible solution for your renovation project.

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