The Appeal and Limitations of Concrete Roof Tiles

Concrete roof tiles have been a popular choice in many Auckland homes, thanks to their durability and aesthetic appeal. They typically last for decades and can withstand harsh weather conditions. However, with time, these tiles may wear out, become damaged, or simply not align with a homeowner’s aesthetic preferences or the architectural evolution of areas like Ponsonby or Grey Lynn. When this happens, the quest for a suitable replacement begins.

Choosing the Right Material for Auckland’s Climate

Auckland’s humid subtropical climate, with its wet winters and warm, humid summers, requires roofing materials that can resist moisture penetration and regulate indoor temperatures. Here’s a list of potential replacements for concrete roof tiles:

Metal Roofing:

Lightweight, durable, and resistant to extreme weather conditions. They come in various styles and can mimic traditional shingles, wood shake, or even tile.

Composition & Types:

Metal roofing, contrary to what some might believe, isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The term “metal roofing” can encompass a variety of metals and alloys, each with its unique properties:

  • Steel: Often coated with a layer of zinc (galvanized) or a combination of zinc and aluminum (galvalume) to protect it from corrosion.
  • Aluminium: Naturally resistant to corrosion and is lightweight, making it a popular choice in coastal areas.
  • Copper: Known for its aesthetic appeal, it doesn’t corrode and can last for centuries. Over time, it develops a green patina which many homeowners find attractive.
  • Zinc: Malleable and resistant to corrosion. It can also self-heal from physical damages, such as scratches.
  • Tin: Rarely used in its pure form for roofing today but was historically a popular choice.

Styles and Aesthetic Appeal

With advancements in manufacturing, metal roofs aren’t limited to the silver sheets one might picture on industrial buildings. They can be fashioned to suit a range of architectural desires:

  • Standing Seam: Characterized by raised interlocking seams that join panels together. It’s the most recognized style, often seen in modern Auckland homes.
  • Metal Shingles/Shakes: These mimic the look of traditional asphalt shingles or wooden shakes. They provide the aesthetic appeal of these materials while giving the durability of metal.
  • Metal Tiles: Resemble clay or concrete tiles. Ideal for those who love Mediterranean or Spanish-style homes.
  • Corrugated Metal: Offers a more rustic appearance, reminiscent of historic homes or barns.

Durability and Weather Resistance

What sets metal roofing apart, especially in places like Auckland with its unpredictable weather patterns, is its robust nature:

  • Longevity: With proper installation and minimal maintenance, metal roofs can last between 40-70 years, significantly longer than asphalt shingles.
  • Weather Resistant: Built to withstand high winds, heavy rainfalls, and even hail. This resilience makes them a prime choice for areas that face frequent weather challenges.
  • Fire Resistant: Unlike wooden shingles, metal roofs are non-combustible, offering an added layer of safety to homes.
  • Energy Efficiency: Metal reflects radiant heat from the sun, aiding in regulating indoor temperatures and reducing energy costs.

Safety and Installation Aspects

While metal roofing offers a plethora of advantages, it’s crucial to acknowledge the intricacies of its installation:

  • Weight: Metal roofs are typically lighter than tile or concrete, ensuring less strain on a home’s structural integrity.
  • Installation: It’s vital to engage professionals familiar with metal roofing. In Auckland, due to its specific climate, the installation might require special underlayment or consideration for ventilation to combat humidity and moisture buildup.
  • Noise Factor: During heavy rain, metal roofs can be louder than other materials. Using proper insulation or soundproofing materials can counteract this concern.

Asphalt Shingles:

Comprising fibreglass sandwiched between asphalt and ceramic, they are affordable and relatively easy to install. They come in an array of colours and styles.

Composition & Materials

  • Fibreglass Core: This is the backbone of the shingle, giving it its strength. Fibreglass ensures the shingle remains intact and provides tear resistance, essential for areas with changing weather patterns like Auckland.
  • Asphalt Layer: Surrounding the fibreglass, the asphalt provides the primary waterproofing element to the shingle. This layer ensures that homes remain dry during Auckland’s occasional rainy seasons.
  • Ceramic Granules: These are the small, textured particles you see on the top side of the shingle. They do more than just add colour. They’re vital for protection against UV rays, ensuring longevity. Moreover, these granules provide an aesthetic finish, letting homeowners choose from a variety of appearances.

Styles & Aesthetics

Asphalt shingles aren’t one-dimensional. Over the years, advancements have led to a variety of styles suited for different architectural designs:

  • 3-Tab Shingles: These are the traditional type and have a very flat appearance. They’re usually the most affordable, making them popular for budget-conscious projects.
  • Architectural (or Dimensional) Shingles: A step up in terms of quality and appearance. These shingles have a layered, dimensional look and are known for their durability.
  • Premium Shingles: As the name suggests, these are top-tier, often mimicking the look of natural materials like slate or wood. They offer enhanced durability and a distinctive appearance.

Benefits for Auckland Homes

Given Auckland’s unique weather conditions, it’s worth noting why asphalt shingles can be a smart choice:

  • Ease of Installation: Unlike some roofing materials that require specialised tools or techniques, asphalt shingles are relatively straightforward. This can translate to quicker installation times and potential cost savings.
  • Affordability: For those in suburbs like Manukau or North Shore looking to re-roof without breaking the bank, asphalt shingles often offer the most bang for your buck.
  • Versatility: Given the array of colours and styles, homeowners in Auckland can find a shingle to match almost any architectural design.
  • Durability: While they might not last as long as metal roofs, good quality asphalt shingles can serve homes reliably for 20-30 years.

Slate Roofing:

A high-end option, slate roofs are incredibly durable and can last for more than a century if maintained. They offer a natural and elegant appearance.

Composition & Materials

  • Natural Stone: Slate is a fine-grained, metamorphic rock derived from an original shale-type sedimentary rock. Its composition primarily includes clay or volcanic ash.
  • Colour Variations: The mineral and chemical composition of the slate defines its colour, ranging from grey, blue-grey, black, to reds and greens.
  • Thickness: Depending on the quarry and its location, slate thickness can vary. Generally, it’s cut to a thickness of 3/16” to ¼”, but thicker options are available.

Styles & Aesthetics

Slate roofing oozes with timeless beauty, making it a premium choice for many homeowners:

  • Texture: Slate tiles can be riven (split along the grain) for a natural texture or sawn for a smooth finish.
  • Size & Shape: Slate tiles are available in various sizes and shapes, including standard rectangles, square, and even irregular shapes to create unique patterns.
  • Pattern: Slate roofs can have uniform colours or incorporate a blend for a varied, textured appearance.

Benefits & Considerations for Auckland Homes

In areas like Parnell or Remuera, where historical or high-end modern homes are prevalent, slate roofing can be an exquisite fit:

  • Lifespan: One of slate’s most compelling attributes is its longevity. A well-installed slate roof can last over a century, often outliving the building it protects.
  • Low Maintenance: Slate roofs are resistant to moisture, mould, and fungal growth, which can be particularly useful given Auckland’s occasional wet conditions.
  • Fire Resistance: Being a stone material, slate is naturally fire-resistant, adding an extra layer of safety to homes.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: A slate roof’s elegant, natural look can elevate the architectural charm of any Auckland home.

However, a few essential points warrant attention:

  • Weight: Slate is significantly heavier than other roofing materials. Homes must have the structural integrity to bear this weight.
  • Cost: The upfront cost of a slate roof, inclusive of materials and installation, can be on the higher side.
  • Installation Expertise: Slate roofing demands a high level of expertise for installation. An incorrectly installed slate roof can lead to leaks or a reduced lifespan.
  • Fragility: While durable once installed, individual slate tiles can be fragile and may break if walked upon.

Wooden Shingles or Shakes:

Offering a rustic and natural look, wooden roofs need regular maintenance to prevent rot, mould, or insect infestations.

Composition & Materials

  • Timber Origin: Wooden shingles or shakes predominantly come from two types of wood: Cedar and Redwood. Cedar, particularly Western Red Cedar, is the most commonly used due to its inherent resistance to moisture, decay, and insect damage.
  • Shingles vs Shakes: It’s essential to distinguish between the two. Shingles are machine-cut, offering a more uniform appearance and thin profile. Shakes, on the other hand, are hand-split, resulting in a thicker, more rugged texture and appearance.

Styles & Aesthetics

Wooden roofing provides a classic, timeless look that appeals to those who appreciate natural materials:

  • Taper-sawn Shakes: A hybrid of shingles and split shakes, taper-sawn shakes are sawn on both sides. They possess the thickness of shakes but maintain a relatively uniform appearance like shingles.
  • Straight-split Shakes: These retain a rougher, textured face, capturing that rustic charm some homeowners in Auckland might be after.
  • Round-cut Shingles: These come with a rounded bottom edge, often used to replicate historical or period-specific architectural styles.

Benefits & Considerations for Auckland Homes

In a place like Auckland, with its proximity to coastal regions like Mission Bay or the lush green of Titirangi, wooden shingles or shakes can be an aesthetic fit. But there are practical considerations too:

  • Natural Insulation: Wood provides inherent insulation properties. It can keep homes warmer in the winter and cooler during Auckland’s summer months.
  • Durability: With proper care, wooden shingles or shakes can last anywhere between 30 to 40 years. Their natural oils repel moisture and insect damage, adding to their lifespan.
  • Eco-friendly: For those Aucklanders keen on sustainability, wood is a biodegradable material. When the time comes for replacement, wooden shingles or shakes won’t linger in landfills for centuries.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Few roofing materials can rival the organic, textured beauty of wood. It’s a look that can seamlessly fit into Auckland’s diverse architectural landscape.

However, it’s worth noting a few crucial points:

  • Maintenance: Wooden roofs require more upkeep than some other materials. They need to be regularly checked for moss, mould, and rot – especially in Auckland’s humid conditions.
  • Cost: Premium wood, especially specific types like Red Cedar, can be pricier than some other roofing options.
  • Fire Risk: Wood is combustible. It’s crucial to ensure the material is treated with fire retardants, especially in areas prone to bushfires.

Clay Tiles:

While similar in appearance to concrete tiles, clay tiles are lighter and can last up to 100 years. They are ideal for those who love the look of concrete tiles but desire a longer lifespan and lesser weight.

Composition & Materials

  • Natural Clay: Clay tiles are primarily made from natural clay which is moulded into shape and then baked in a kiln at high temperatures. This process gives the tiles their durability and distinct appearance.
  • Finishes: Post-baking, tiles can be glazed or surface-treated to enhance colour, reflectivity, or resistance to moss and algae growth.
  • Colour Range: While traditionally reddish-brown, modern processing allows clay tiles to come in a wide array of colours, including terracotta, browns, yellows, and even blues.

Styles & Aesthetics

Clay tiles have been used for centuries, offering a timeless aesthetic appeal:

  • Profile: There are predominantly two profiles – flat or curved. Traditional Mediterranean or Spanish homes often feature the iconic curved (or “S” shaped) tiles.
  • Patterns: Beyond the traditional layout, clay tiles can be laid out in various patterns, offering a unique appearance. Interlocking patterns are popular for their enhanced weather resistance.
  • Texture: Some clay tiles are intentionally textured to replicate a weathered or aged appearance, adding character to a roof.

Benefits & Considerations for Auckland Homes

For areas in Auckland like Ponsonby or Mt. Eden, which boast a mix of historical and modern architectural styles, clay tiles can be an ideal fit:

  • Longevity: With proper maintenance and under normal conditions, clay tiles can last upwards of 50 years. They resist fading, even under the strong New Zealand sun.
  • Fire Resistance: Clay tiles are naturally fire-resistant, making them a safe roofing option.
  • Thermal Performance: Their inherent insulating properties mean homes remain cooler during Auckland’s warmer months and retain heat during cooler periods.
  • Aesthetic Flexibility: Given the variety of styles, patterns, and colours available, clay tiles can complement both traditional and contemporary Auckland homes.

However, potential users should consider:

  • Weight: Like slate, clay tiles are heavier than many other roofing materials. Proper structural support is a must.
  • Fragility: While durable once laid, they can break when walked on. Maintenance or installations like solar panels require care.
  • Cost: Quality clay tiles can be pricier than some roofing alternatives, particularly when considering installation costs.
  • Maintenance: While they’re low maintenance, broken tiles should be replaced promptly to avoid leaks or further damage.

Comparison Table: Concrete Roof Tile Alternatives

Roofing MaterialSpecificationsProsCons
Metal RoofingLightweight, varies in styleDurable, weather-resistant, energy-efficientCan be noisy during rain, initial high cost
Asphalt ShinglesFibreglass, asphalt, ceramicAffordable, versatile design optionsShorter lifespan compared to other materials
Slate RoofingNatural stoneExtremely durable, elegant appearanceHeavy, expensive, requires skilled installation
Wooden ShinglesNatural woodAesthetic appeal, natural insulationRequires regular maintenance, potential fire hazard
Clay TilesNatural clayDurable, classic appearance, lighter than concreteCan be fragile, relatively expensive

Health, Safety, and the Roofing Process

When considering a roof replacement, it’s imperative to be aware of the health and safety aspects. No matter if you’re in a bustling area or a quieter part of Grey Lynn:

  • Always hire professionals, like My Roofers Auckland, who follow safety protocols.
  • Ensure proper waste disposal, especially if removing older materials that might contain harmful substances.
  • Understand that different materials have varying weights. The structural integrity of your home might need assessment to ensure it can bear the weight of heavier materials like slate.
  • Wet weather can pose slip risks. Ensure roofing work is scheduled during drier periods or ensure safety measures are in place.

Why Opt for My Roofers Auckland for Your Project?

In the vast realm of roofing options, the right choice marries durability, aesthetic appeal, and functionality. This delicate balance is achieved through expertise, quality materials, and impeccable craftsmanship. At My Roofers Auckland:

  • Experience Across Materials: Whether you’re leaning towards metal or pondering the rustic charm of wooden shingles, our team is well-versed with a myriad of materials.
  • Safety is Paramount: Our team is trained in the latest health and safety protocols, ensuring every project’s smooth completion without hitches.
  • Local Knowledge: Understanding Auckland’s climate and architectural nuances, especially in suburbs like Ponsonby, means we’re well-equipped to offer advice tailored to your home’s specific needs.
  • Comprehensive Service: From the initial consultation to the final installation, every step is handled with professionalism and a commitment to excellence.

Remember, a roof does more than shield you from the elements—it’s a statement of style, a testament to durability, and a reflection of the love you have for your home. Trust it with professionals who care as much as you do.

Frequently Asked Questions on Roofing Alternatives for Auckland Homes

What is the typical lifespan of these alternative roofing materials?

Metal Roofing: 40-70 years, depending on the metal used and maintenance.

Asphalt Shingles: 15-30 years, depending on quality and environmental conditions.

Wooden Shingles or Shakes: 30-40 years with proper maintenance.

Slate Roofing: Over 100 years when installed and maintained correctly.

Clay Tiles: 50 years and above with appropriate care.

Are there specific roofing materials recommended for Auckland’s weather?

Auckland experiences a mix of wet and humid conditions with occasional high winds. While all mentioned roofing materials are suitable, it’s essential to ensure proper roof installation and regular maintenance, especially for wooden shingles or shakes which might be more susceptible to mould or rot in very humid conditions.

What roofing material offers the best fire resistance?

Slate and clay tiles are naturally fire-resistant, followed closely by metal roofing. Wooden shingles or shakes need to be treated with fire retardants for better safety.

How do I decide on the best roofing material for my home?

Factors to consider include the architectural style of your home, budget, desired lifespan, aesthetic preferences, and maintenance willingness. Consulting with professionals, such as My Roofers Auckland, can provide a clearer direction based on these factors.

How often should I inspect or maintain my roof in Auckland?

Given the city’s variable climate, it’s advisable to inspect your roof at least once a year or after extreme weather events. This ensures that minor issues are addressed before they escalate.

How do the costs of these roofing materials compare?

Typically, slate and clay tiles are on the higher end of the cost spectrum. Metal roofing falls in the mid-range, while asphalt shingles are often more affordable. However, when considering costs, it’s essential to factor in longevity, maintenance costs, and potential energy savings.

I live in a heritage area in Auckland, like Parnell. Are there restrictions on roofing materials?

Heritage or special character areas might have guidelines or restrictions on external alterations to maintain the area’s character. It’s advisable to check with the Auckland Council or consult with experienced roofers familiar with local regulations.

With Auckland’s coastal proximity, are there roofing materials better suited to resist saltwater corrosion?

Metal roofing, especially those made of aluminium or specific steel alloys, offers good resistance to saltwater corrosion, making them suitable for homes near Auckland’s coastal areas.

Key Takeaways: Roofing Alternatives for Auckland Homes

Diverse Options:

There are several roofing alternatives to concrete tiles, each offering unique benefits. The primary options discussed include Metal Roofing, Asphalt Shingles, Wooden Shingles or Shakes, Slate Roofing, and Clay Tiles.

Consider Auckland’s Climate:

Given Auckland’s mix of wet, humid conditions, and occasional high winds, proper installation and maintenance are crucial for any roofing material chosen. Metal roofing and slate have proven especially resilient in such conditions.

Aesthetics Matter:

Different roofing materials offer diverse aesthetic outcomes. While slate provides an elegant and timeless look, clay tiles can evoke Mediterranean vibes, and metal roofing can be tailored to match various traditional styles.

Cost vs. Longevity:

While initial costs for materials like slate or clay tiles may be higher, their lifespan can justify the investment. On the other hand, more affordable options like asphalt shingles might require earlier replacement.

Safety and Fire Resistance:

Slate, clay tiles, and metal roofing offer higher fire resistance. However, safety doesn’t just stem from material but also from expert installation and regular maintenance.

Local Considerations:

Living in heritage areas in Auckland might necessitate adherence to specific guidelines when choosing roofing materials. Additionally, coastal homes should factor in saltwater corrosion resistance.

Expertise is Essential:

The real potential of any roofing material is realized only when it’s installed correctly. Engaging with experienced professionals, like My Roofers Auckland, ensures that the chosen roofing material offers the best protection, aesthetics, and value for money.


Roofing Solutions for New Zealand ConditionsNZ Building Standards. A comprehensive guide that provides insights into roofing materials suitable for the unique climatic conditions of New Zealand.

Modern Roofing Trends in AucklandAuckland Architectural Journal. This publication delves into the recent trends and preferred materials for roofing in Auckland’s diverse urban landscape.

Comparative Analysis of Roofing MaterialsRoofing Professionals of NZ. A detailed comparison of popular roofing materials, highlighting their strengths, weaknesses, and suitability for various applications.

Auckland’s Heritage Building GuidelinesAuckland City Council. An essential resource for homeowners in heritage areas, providing guidance on permissible alterations and preferred materials to maintain local character.

Sustainability in Roofing: A Kiwi PerspectiveNZ Green Building Council. Discussing the environmental impact and sustainability of various roofing materials in a New Zealand context.