Storm Resistance & Roofing: A Comparison of Clay, Concrete, Steel and Composite Materials

By November 5, 2018Blog

Over the past couple decades, energy efficiency performance has become a primary focus in roofing. Reduced energy costs are more important to homeowners than ever before, and the roofing industry has made great strides in this area of performance. However, the main purpose of a roof is still to provide a solid weather barrier from the elements. Concerns are also mounting over climate change and the monumental weather events – severe droughts, wildfires, melting permafrost, warmer temperatures, coastal and valley flooding and power outages – that accompany it.

When selecting a roofing material for a new home or community, builders should account for regional climate and identify the weather conditions most likely to occur. Storms, fire, hail, snow and wind are all significant challenges for any roofing material. Make sure to review the resiliency performance of each roofing option to ensure that the product selected will resist the conditions the home is likely to face in the future.

Four common roofing materials – clay tile, concrete tile, stone-coated steel, and composite slate and shake – each provide different weather protections and resiliency benefits. 

Clay and Concrete Roof Tile

Clay and concrete tile is durable, sustainable, low-maintenance and easy to repair. It also offers a cool roof solution, maximizing energy efficiency and savings. Clay and concrete tile options are also particularly adept at helping to protect against fire and hail.

Fire Prevention

Many areas are at risk for fire, especially those in Wildfire Urban Interface areas or regions where drought conditions persist. Flying embers pose fire risk as they may ignite when making contact with the roof surface. Clay and concrete tiles are non-combustible, helping prevent first ignition from occurring. Many clay and concrete products have received a Class A fire rating, the highest rating available. The ICC Evaluation Service indicates Class A roof tile can withstand a higher level of fire exposure originating from sources outside the home.


Common in many regions of the country, hail storms can wreak serious damage to a roof. Some concrete and clay tile products offer Class 4 hail rating, proving their ability to withstand two-inch ice ball impacts shot from a cannon at 70 miles per hour in accordance with the FM 4473.

Stone Coated Steel Roofing

Stone-coated steel roofing systems are recognized for their durability, lighter weight and cost effectiveness, making them ideal for reroof or storm-damage applications. The strength of steel offers superior protection from severe climate events.


Stone-coated steel is one of the best possible materials for withstanding the devastating hail storms that impact many regions of the country, providing the highest UL-listed, Class 4 UL impact rating.


Stone-coated steel roofing panels are proven to resist wind speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour, making this roofing option ideal in regions where high winds occur, such as Florida, Hawaii and the Caribbean coastal markets.

Ice Damming

Stone-coated steel offers protection in severely cold climates where ice damming is problematic. These systems provide an “above sheathing ventilated” space across the entire roof deck. This horizontal and vertical air space provides above-the-deck air flow and insulation that helps mitigate ice damming and icicle formation issues common in heavy snow areas of the country.

Composite Roofing

Created from high-quality virgin resins, composite roofing products are a luxury roofing option often designed to mimic traditional materials such as natural slate and wood shake.

Water Absorption and Permeation

Composite tile, due to its material composition, is shown (in accordance with ASTM E96/E96M) to be impermeable to water and (in accordance with ASTM C272) to experience no weight gain when in contact with water.

Wind Driven Rain and Uplift

Composite roofing performs well under wind-driven rain conditions and is highly resistant to wind uplift. Testing in accordance with TAS 100-95 and UL 580 proves its ability to withstand winds of up to 110 miles per hour with zero water infiltration through sheathing. Under these conditions, tiles remain intact instead of tearing or blowing off.


In accordance with UL2218, top quality composite roofing solutions offer a Class 4 hail rating, the highest achievable rating. This makes this roofing type ideal for hail prone areas of the country.

In closing, climate zone and weather events must be considered when selecting the right roofing system for your project. When assessing materials, do not rely on aesthetics or energy performance alone. Consider durability and resiliency performance based on your local conditions in order to maximize the protection of the home.