When looking for the best roofing material for your house, there are four basic questions you should ask yourself to aid in making the decision:

  •  Are you going to trap rain water from the roof for drinking?
  • What are the structural needs for the material?
  • How durable is the material?
  • What are the comparative costs?

The main kinds of roofing material used in Kenya are: Clay tiles, concrete tiles, stone coated steel sheets, and mabati (galvanized iron sheets). There are also innovative iron sheet products that come under different brand names like Orientile and so on.

Based on the questions posed above, here is a brief guide on choosing your roofing material.

Clay tiles

Clay tiles are popular in urban residences. Clay tiles are the best material for harvesting rain water because they are made of clay which is a natural filter. Clay tiles need significantly more wood for the roofing truss due to their heavy weight. They also require an underlay of either light gauge mabati or Polyvinyl paper sheets to prevent leakage.  Clay tiles are really durable and they get a nice color as they age.

Clay Tiles

Clay Tiles

Concrete tiles

Concrete tiles look just like clay tiles but are more expensive. They are highly durable and have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. They are heavy and may cause sagging on a wooden truss.  Concrete tiles are not well suited for rain water harvesting because the water is prone to impurities.

Concrete Roof Tile

Concrete Roof Tile [KC Quarry]


Iron roofing sheets are more popular than the rest because of their affordability. They do not require underlay and have a low requirement of timber in the truss. They are good for brick houses (because brick is not structurally strong enough to bear heavy loads.) Iron sheets come in a variety of shades, shapes and sizes.

The length of iron sheets range from 1 metre to even 10 metres. These are bundled differently depending on the sizes. Galsheet Resincot roofing sheets are packed in bundles of up to 23 sheets for the 2 metre long sheets and 16 sheets for the 3 metre long sheets.

You can take your pick from the more ordinary silver colored sheets to the box profile sheets. They come in blue, maroon, red and numerous other colors. Iron sheets are highly prone to leaking and thus may need to be replaced after a while. Some mabati also run the risk of rusting or getting discolored over time. Ordinary roofing mabati goes for around 200/- per square metre on the lower end. Galsheet Resincot iron sheets at approximately Ksh 465 per metre on the lower side.


Galsheet Resincot [Courtesy: Roofing Africa]

Stone Coated Iron Roofing Tiles

Stone coated iron roofing tiles are widely perceived to be appealing. They are lightweight and thus will reduce the timber requirements for the truss. They are highly durable. They are slightly pricey though, and you will have to part with around 1500/- per square metre. It is not advisable to harvest rain water on them. They are available under different brand names, like Decra, Armatile and Duratile.

Decra Tiles

Decra Tiles [Courtesy ICT Ville]