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Is a Clay Roof the Right Choice for Your New Construction Roofing Project in Texas?

Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2024 at 10:29 am    

Clay roofs have been used for centuries globally, especially in Texas. During the 18th century, Spanish missions installed clay roofing systems to withstand the hot Texas climate. Historically, Texas settlers and Indigenous people kept their homes cooler and safer in high temperatures without modern technology using clay roofing systems.

Unsurprisingly, Texas home and commercial property owners still utilize clay tiles when constructing new roofs in 2024. However, like any other roofing materials, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider when building a new property.


Pros of New Construction Clay Roofs in Texas

Clay roofs remain popular in Texas and it’s clear why! From exceptional longevity to impeccable energy efficiency, both residential and commercial new construction roofing projects reap numerous benefits by utilizing a clay roofing system.

Durability and Longevity

Clay roofs can last between 50 and 100 years (or more!) with proper design, installation, and maintenance. With severe climate conditions in Texas, such as heavy rainstorms and strong winds, clay tiles have become a go-to material for new construction roofing due to their durability and longevity.

Natural resistance to fire and pests is among the many benefits of clay roofs. In humid climates, clay tiles are ideal because they don’t rot when exposed to continual atmospheric moisture. They also thrive in hot temperatures due to their high heat absorption, making them an ideal choice for those exploring new construction roofing options in Texas. When building a new property, owners are seeking long-lasting, safe roofing systems that will meet the demands of their specific location. 

Natural thermal resistance is another reason clay roofs remain popular among Texas residents. Clay tiles have a unique installation process that creates air spaces between each tile, significantly reducing heat transfer. They absorb thermal heat during the day and slowly release any retained heat as the temperature drops each night.

Aesthetic Appeal

There is a vast array of options when considering clay roof tiles. They come in various sizes, colors, and patterns to enhance curb appeal and property value. New-build Texas property owners can match their dream architectural design during the construction process with the timeless elegance of clay tiles. 

Common clay roof tile styles include:

  • Mission Tiles: Barrel-shaped interlocking patterns and various colors (most common)
  • Spanish Tiles: S-shaped structures and terracotta colors
  • French Tiles: Interlocking sides and vertical channels with lighter shades

Clay roof tiles can also add significant resale value for property owners investing in newly built homes or businesses. An analysis projects that clay roof tiles can increase a home’s resale value by over $28,000, giving Texas homeowners over 55% ROI! 

While roofing updates are not guaranteed to generate a 100% return, your home’s curb appeal is the first thing that draws in potential buyers. Understanding your city’s market with a real estate professional and consulting with a local Texas roofer can help you decide if a clay roof is worth the investment.

Energy Efficiency

Another appealing feature of clay tiles for new construction roofing in Texas is their energy efficiency, especially in urban areas where heat island effects are more prevalent. 

As mentioned, clay tiles provide natural insulation to help regulate indoor temperatures by absorbing heat and releasing it slowly at night. In addition to maintaining internal cooler temperatures, clay roof tiles can reduce energy costs—even in the intense Texas heat. 

Clay tile roofing systems can lower your energy consumption costs by up to 20% due to their strong thermal resistance. Energy savings rates vary by property size, structural design, high solar radiation zones, and shading system. 

Although many modern Texas properties are built with energy management systems, such as solar-powered lighting and smart thermostats that adjust heating/cooling settings throughout the day, your roof is the first point of contact with the outdoor elements—making clay roofs an investment worth considering.

Low Maintenance

When you build a new Texas home or commercial property, you expect minimal roof maintenance during its youth. With some exceptions of extreme weather conditions, like severe hurricanes or tornadoes, new construction roofing should be able to provide the utmost protection with minimal to no damage. 

Clay roofing systems are low maintenance, making them a cost-effective choice for new builds. Even with upfront costs, such as down payments and labor rates, clay roof tiles offer long-term savings. They have less than 1% moisture absorption, preventing water-related roofing damage like mold, leaks, and mildew. 

2024 Texas climate change projections include more intense and frequent rainfalls statewide by over 20% on average. If you’re constructing a new home or building in Texas, clay roof tiles are worth considering as they’re virtually maintenance-free, water-resistant, and don’t rot in wet climates. 

Environmental Benefits

In addition to excellent energy efficiency, clay roofs are an eco-friendly roofing solution given their sustainable nature. Clay roof tiles are manufactured with natural materials and are 100% recyclable, reducing carbon emissions and waste. 

Cons of New Construction Clay Roofs in Texas

Although Texas property owners reap many benefits from using clay roofs for their new construction homes, there are potential downsides to consider. 

High Initial Costs

If you’re building a new home or commercial property in Texas, you’ll need a higher upfront budget for a clay roofing system. Clay tiles are one of the most expensive roofing materials, costing $2.50 to $18.00 per square foot, depending on the style. This pricing doesn’t include new construction roofing labor rates and installation costs. 

Although clay roofs provide more long-term savings, they have high initial costs. 

Heavy Weight Load Considerations

Another potential disadvantage of clay roofs in newly built Texas properties is their weight. On average, clay roof tiles weigh between 700 and 900 pounds per 100 square feet! They require a strong property structure to support their heavy-weight loads, limiting certain building designs. 

If you’re building a new home in an HOA community, there are typically pre-selected designs and structures that are approved for selection. Texas cities may also have legal height limits and zoning codes in certain locations that may limit your commercial property designs. 

Should these architectures require additional reinforcement after inspection to accommodate the heavy weight of clay tiles, you may not be approved or able to support your property safely.  

Tile Fragility

Although clay roofing systems are durable and long-lasting, they’re still fragile under certain conditions. Heavy impacts like severe hailstorms and large fallen tree branches may cause them to crack or break. Additionally, if your clay roof isn’t properly installed, it can easily become damaged by foot traffic and protruding nails which don’t let your tiles set correctly. 

Limited Climate Suitability

Clay roofs can withstand certain climate conditions effectively. However, there are some weather conditions that they’re less suited for. As mentioned, areas in Texas that experience heavy and frequent hailstorms aren’t ideal for clay roof tiles, even if it’s new construction. The heavy impact from large hail can cause them to crack or break. 

According to the Tile Roofing Industry Alliance, clay roof tiles can resist damage from hailstones larger than a golf ball. However, it depends on the tile style, and an asphalt roofing paper underlayment is recommended as a second defense layer—adding to the roof’s weight load and new construction costs.

Whether you’re constructing a new home or a commercial property, clay roof systems offer various benefits. And their popularity in Texas should come as no surprise!