Best Arizona Roof Material: Tiles vs. Shingles

Maybe you’re building a new home in Arizona, or you’re replacing an old roof, and you’re wondering, “What roof material is best for Arizona, shingles or tiles?”

Pros & Cons of Clay and Concrete Tiles

Clay and Concrete Tiles

Clay and concrete tiles are a staple of homes in the dry, southwestern climate. So it’s no wonder they are the most common roof materials in Arizona.


  • Longer lifespan— Tile roofing lasts 40-50 years.
  • Energy efficient— Tiles are spaced so that they resist heat while promoting easy airflow so that the roof can “breathe.” This means your home can cool down easier.
  • Southwestern flair— A tile roof gives your home the unique southwestern flair people love.
  • Heat resistant— Tile is fireproof, won’t rot and effectively protects your home from Arizona’s scorching heat.


  • Heavy— Your home’s structure needs to be built to support the weight of tile. So if you’re replacing shingles with tile, you’ll need to obtain an engineer’s report to assure your home is structurally able to handle the weight and/or pay extra to add woodwork to your attic to support the weight. However, newer tiles are being made lighter and lighter.
  • Fragile—Clay tiles are likely to break or crack if someone steps on them.
  • Relatively expensive— Depending on the tile, this could be the more expensive roofing option. However, it is also has the best value from an appraisal standpoint.
  • Maintenance woes— Tile roofs aren’t waterproof so they need a felt underlayment under the tile to keep water out. The felt needs replacing every 12-20 years.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles (sometimes called composition shingles) are made of a base (organic or fiberglass) that is saturated with asphalt and coated with minerals on one side to resist weathering.


  • Relatively inexpensive—This has traditionally been your “roof on a budget” option. However asphalt shingle pricing is tied to petroleum costs and they have been continuously increasing in price. Get a price for both!
  • Easier to install—Most roofers are familiar with shingles so the number of companies that provide this service is wide. Caution: The limited lifetime warranty offered by the manufacturer is tied to the manner in which it was installed. WHO installs your shingles is every bit as important as what you are installing.
  • Varied style choices— Shingles come in a wide-variety of styles, quality and colors.
  • Durable—Asphalt shingles, properly installed, are less likely to break when someone walks on the roof.


  • Lifespan varies—Shingle roofs last between 20-50 years depending on the quality of the shingles and the manner in which it was installed. Lack of maintenance decreases the lifespan of the shingles.
  • Makes it harder for your home to cool down—Shingles form a barrier against heat, but they also don’t “breathe” (aka promote airflow). So once your home does gain heat, it’s hard for it to escape. This makes it hard for your home to cool down. Say hello to higher energy bills! However if you are okay with a lighter colored shingle there are some Energy Star™ rate shingles to choose from. The addition of proper ventilation, including solar generated fans, can go a long way to stave off higher energy bills.
  • Discoloring—Shingles will discolor under Arizona’s hot sun. So replacing a few old shingles can give your room an ugly mismatched look.

So which roof material should you get?

As you can see there are pros and cons for both. Costs equal out for both over time, however a tile roof will provide a better appraised value to your home.

When it comes to looks, the roof that is best for you is the one you like the best. Both product lines offer options that will enhance your curb appeal.

Whichever new roof you install, be sure to let your insurance provider know, it is such a critical system to the protection of your home that most insurance providers will discount your premiums when you install a new roof.

A word of caution: in some communities, there is little choice as to what type of roof you can install. Be sure to check with your homeowner’s association before meeting with roofing professional.

Want an expert’s opinion?

If you live in the Tucson or Phoenix area and want advice about finding the right roofing material for your home, Lyons Roofing can help.

Contact us online or call us at 602-276-5515 in Phoenix or 520-300-5353 in Tucson with your questions.

If you need a Phoenix roofer to replace your roof ASAP, you can schedule a FREE estimate.