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How To Replace Clay Roof Tiles

Things To Consider When Buying A House With A Clay Tile Roof

How to Repair Spanish Clay Roofing Tiles – West Coast Roofer

Clay tile roofs aren’t just a simple shelter from the sun and rain they’re a charming, durable and environmentally-friendly roofing option. Before buying a house with a clay roof, however, you should be prepared for the costs and labor it may require.

Here are some important questions to ask when considering a home with a tile roofing:

Additional Considerations And Costs

  • Repairs. Clay tiles are easily broken. If this happens, you must repair them to keep your roofs integrity. This has an average cost of $9 to $20.50 a sq.ft.
  • Lifespan. Most clay tile roofs last 50 to 100 years. To ensure yours reaches its full potential, inspect it annually.
  • Clay tile weight. Clay tile is extremely heavy, weighing more than twice what asphalt shingles weigh. If you have not previously had a tile or other heavy roof, you may need to reinforce it to hold the weight.

Small Holes Or Cracks

These issues can be fixed by filling the cracks/holes with plastic roofing cement.

Steps followed:

  • Cleaning Scrub the tile area using a wire brush. This is to make sure the roofing cement will bond properly. Remove the debris and dirt. If there is any residual water, clean and let it dry for the right bonding of the patching component.
  • Filling -Fill the cracked or the hole-region with plastic roofing cement. You can also use Silicone caulk for longevity and durability.
  • Setting -Set it to join or seal the crack.
  • Smoothening Using a trowel, the roof surface is smoothened to the adjoining level. Now let the cement harden for bonding.

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How To Change A Roof Tile

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Replacement of roof tiles that have cracked, broken or disappeared is important to prevent roof leaks an ceiling damage once rain and wind appear. Fixing the problem quickly by yourself is possible provided it’s only a few tiles. Prices for tile changing can be expensive and vary depending on the company you use. What most people don’t realise is that as long as you can find the appropriate tile and have a decent ladder, you can change it yourself with minimal effort.

How To Install Clay Roof Tile

Clay Tile Roof Contractor RI MA

Clay roof tiles are very popular as they create an attractive mediterranean look. They’re durable and lightweight, making them ideal for certain roofs, and they offer better insulation when compared to similar materials such as ceramic tiles. When installing clay tiles, picking the right size, color and installation method, which depends on the type of clay tile, are important factors.

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How To Replace Concrete And Clay Plain Tiles

Plain tiles are not normally nailed in every course, and in such circumstances the following procedure applies.

Remove the damaged tile by raising up the neighbouring tiles with a timber wedge and sliding the tile out with the nibs clearing the top of the batten. Any nails should be removed and disposed of safely.

Insert the replacement tile back into position using the same technique in reverse. If required, re-nail the replacement tile using 2 No. 38mm x 2.65mm aluminium nails.

A dab of mastic can be placed on the underside to prevent movement.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Roof Tile

The cost of replacing a roof tile depends on several factors, ranging from how many tiles need to be replaced, to materials used, and whether youll be doing the job yourself. The below are estimates, and may be high or low depending upon the size of your roof and complexity of access. How Many Roof Tiles Do I Need?

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Do Put Your Personal Safety First

You’ll need to be able to safely access and remove your broken roof tile to replace it. Make sure that you have a stable and robust ladder that reaches your roof. You could also consider using safety ropes to protect you if you slip, especially if your roof is very steeply pitched. Waiting for a dry day to ensure your roof isn’t slippery is also advisable. Falling off your roof can cause severe injuries, and in the worst cases, even death.

Historical Background Return To Top

How to Replace broken common Interlocking Roof Tiles

The origin of clay roofing tile can be traced independently to two different parts of the world: China, during the Neolithic Age, beginning around 10,000 B.C. and the Middle East, a short time later. From these regions, the use of clay tile spread throughout Asia and Europe. Not only the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians, but also the Greeks and Romans roofed their buildings with clay tiles, and adaptations of their practice continue in Europe to the present. European settlers brought this roofing tradition to America where it was established in many places by the 17th century.

Tapered barrel clay roof tiles were custom made for the restoration of the 1820s Indian barracks at Mission Santa Cruz in California. Photo: NPS files.

Archeologists have recovered specimens of clay roofing tiles from the 1585 settlement of Roanoke Island in North Carolina. Clay tile was also used in the early English settlements in Jamestown, Virginia, and nearby St. Mary’s in Maryland. Clay roofing tiles were also used in the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine in Florida, and by both the French and Spanish in New Orleans.

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How To Replace Roof Tiles

Replacing a cracked, broken, or missing roof tile is a vital skill to have as a homeowner. If you dont get on top of this issue quickly, youll soon find yourself dealing with issues such as moss and algae growth, or even a nightmare roof leak. If water can wreak havoc below your roofline it will cause serious structural damage if left unabated.

Replacing tiles on your roof can be a challenge, particularly if youre a DIY novice. If youre uncomfortable working at height, or dont think youre up to the task, theres no shame in hiring a professional. However, if youd like to do the job yourself, this guide is the right place for you. Well talk about the common signs a roof tile needs replacing, what tools and equipment youll need, and processes for replacing all common forms of roof tile.

Terracotta Clay Roof Tiles

Terracotta clay roof tiles are a subtype that may be found in machine-made and handmade styles. Terracotta refers to the clay type – a red clay with a high mineral content – and how the clay is formed and dried. Terracotta tiles are known as monocottura, meaning fired once. They are often allowed to dry in the sun first, hardening them. Terracotta tiles are typically red, but they also come in other shades, depending on the temperature the clay is fired to. Spanish-style tiles are nearly always terracotta, limiting the available colors.

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Pitch Or Slope Of Roof

Tile roofs come in different pitches for a reason. Tile roofs are more expensive to install on homes with steeper angles because tiles are not only heavier but also harder for installers to work with.

For example, if you have a roof with an average pitch or slope, it will cost around $5-$16 per square foot.

On the other hand, if you have a very steep pitch you can expect to pay upwards of $9 per square foot because tiles will need to be installed and removed one at a time.

Roof Pitch And Weather Factors In Tile Attachment Return To Top

Monier Roof Tiles

The means by which clay tile is attached to the sheathing is also partly determined by the roof pitch. Generally the fastening requirements increase with an increase of roof pitch. For low-pitched rises of 4″-6″ in a 12″ run the weight of the tiles is usually sufficient to hold them in place on the lath by the ridge or “lug” on the underside of the tile, with only the perimeter tiles requiring metal clips to secure them to the sheathing. But the tiles on even these low-pitched roofs are usually nailed for added security, and additional fastening measures are necessary on roofs with a higher pitch, or in areas subject to high winds or earthquakes. For steeper pitched roofs, such as towers, 7″-11″ , or 12″-15″ in a 12″ run the tiles are nailed and a band of perimeter tiles three to four tiles thick is secured with clips. For roof rises over 16″ in a 12″ run, and in areas prone to earthquakes or hurricanes, every tile may be secured with both a nail and a copper or noncorrosive metal clip, and often also with a dab of roofing mastic or mortar.

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Fixing Loose Roof Tiles Before They’re Blown Off

While you are on top of your roof, you may notice that a few other tiles are looking a little worn or loose. Heres a few ways you can fix them before they come completely off your house.

  • You can repair a cracked tile with either mortar or a waterproof sealant in a caulking gun.
  • Replace missing nails from tiles with new ones.
  • Use a pry bar to completely remove damaged tiles and replace them following the steps that were outlined above.

Traditional Tile Shapes And Colors Return To Top

There are two types of clay roofing tiles: interlocking and overlapping. Interlocking tiles are designed in pairs so that an extrusion or “lip” on one of the tiles “hooks” over the other tile thereby “locking” or securing the two together they are also usually nailed to the roof structure. Overlapping tiles, which can also function in pairs, generally do not have any sort of “lip” and must be nailed in place. There is a wide range of shapes of historic clay roofing tiles, and many, sometimes with slight variations, are still produced today. There are many variations, and the country of origin of some of them may be revealed in their names, but there are essentially only two kinds of shapes: pantiles and flat tiles. Both pantiles and flat tiles may be either interlocking or overlapping.

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Roof Tile Replacement Cost

Roof tile replacement costs range from $10 to $33 per square foot. In most cases, youll have to pay $0.50 to $1 per square foot to remove the existing materials. This runs $0.50 to $0.80 per square foot for shingles and $0.75 to $1 per square foot for tiles.

Cost to Replace Roof Tiles

$9.75 $32.50

Modern Versus Traditional Fixing Methods

How to Properly Install Concrete or Clay Tile Roofing

There is no practical reason to install slates and tiles using historic fixing methods. Materials should be fixed according to current best practice. This shouldnt mean that the roof will look any different to the original, but it will last longer. Laying slates or tiles using the most appropriate modern fixings will also allow future generations to date the work and assess its suitability.

Historic Churches, 2012

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Committed To Clay Roofing Excellence

Huber & Associates has won numerous commendations from historical preservation societies for our expertise and diligence in restoring aging properties. The National Roofing and Contractors’ Association has named us a Gold Circle Award winner one of the highest honors in our industry.

We strive to deliver results while making the repair or re-roofing process easy and transparent. Because we pride ourselves on delivering the best possible value, we offer a fair price for quality work and stand behind everything we do with excellent customer service. Read more about what other people have said about their experience with Huber & Associates on our Testimonials page, or contact our office for assistance.

Are Clay Roof Tiles Better Than Concrete

Each material comes in an array of styles and colours, so there is a good argument for using either for your roof. Concrete roof tiles are typically around 20% cheaper than machine-made clay tiles, which can be an advantage if youre working with a tight budget. However, the high level of craftsmanship that comes with a clay tile might give this traditional material the edge.

Handmade clay roof tiles have been part of the English architectural landscape for centuries and can still be seen on many of our historic buildings, says Paul Lythgoe from Tudor Roof Tiles. Like-for-like handmade clay plain and peg tiles are usually a requirement if youre working on a listed property or a house within a conservation area.

Bear in mind that the colour is not baked all the way through a concrete tile, so the initial shade of your roof is likely to fade over the years as it is exposed to the sun. Concrete tiles are also heavier than clay units, so if youre replacing clay tiles with concrete then additional structural reinforcement may be required to your roof can hold the load.

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Who Manufactured The Tiles

Knowing where your tiles came from can give you a good idea of their quality and suitability for the climate of your region.

One important characteristic of the tiles is the grade. Clay tiles are produced in various grades, and each one provides a different level of resistance to weather-related issues like frosting. The tiles you have should be based on the most severe climatic conditions that can occur in your area rather than the typical climate.

There are three grades of tile, laid out in the ASTM C1167 Standards for Clay Tile Roofs. Each grade defines a degree of weather resistance.

What level of moisture absorption a tile may have is one of the main criteria in determining the tiles grade. The more moisture the tile absorbs, the less likely to perform on harsh climates. One of the worst effects is when water soaks into the tile and then freezes. The tile begins to break down and simply isnt resistant to freezing temperatures. Only grade 1 clay roof tiles should be used in extreme freeze thaw climates.

ASTM 1167 also categorizes clay roof tiles by shape:

  • Flat Tiles: Small and rectangular with a smooth surface finish

  • Roman Tiles: Flat in the middle with a concave curve on one end and a convex curve on the other

  • Interlocking Tiles: Interlocks with adjacent tiles, which improves protection against wind and rain

These shapes effect testing for another important aspect of the tiles quality: break strength.

Is My Roof Suitable For Clay Roof Tiles


Clay tiles are versatile and can be used with all construction methods roof pitch is the main structural factor to think about. Roofs with a gradient of 35° or steeper are considered suitable for this type of covering. In the past, anything less than 20° has been deemed unsuitable too.

However, some interlocking products are now available for roof pitches as shallow as 15°. Any lower than this and you might be better off looking at an alternative roofing product, and possibly a different underlay solution too, so be sure to discuss the ins and outs with your chosen tile supplier.

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Regular Inspection And Maintenance

A special system consisting of brass or copper wires is used to attach these tapered barrel roof tiles. Photo: NPS files.

Broken or missing tiles, or leaks on the interior of the building, are obvious clues that a historic clay tile roof needs repair. Even though it may be clear that the roof is leaking, finding the source of the leak may not be so easy. It may require thorough investigation in the attic, as well as going up on the roof and removing tiles selectively in the approximate area of the roof leak. The source of the leak may not actually be located where it appears to be. Water may come in one place and travel along a roofing member some distance from the actual leak before revealing itself by a water stain, plaster damage, or rotted wooden structural members.

Retrofitting Clay Roof Tiles

If youre carrying out repairs on an existing roof, bring in a professional to ascertain how many units are damaged, flaking or have fallen off. If its only a few, you might be able to get away with simply replacing the affected tiles with like-for-like units that match the rest of your clay roof covering. If, however, many of the tiles are damaged, youre probably better off replacing the entire surface with new units.

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Repairing A Failed Fastening System

Clay roofing tiles, as noted before, frequently outlast their fastening systems. Wood pegs rot, nails rust, and even copper nails that are not adequately driven in can pull out of the roof’s structural members. Although it is unusual that all of the clay tiles on a roof need to be replaced unless matching replacements cannot be obtained, it is not uncommon for old tile roofs to be stripped of all their tiles in order to relay the tiles with new fastenings and battens. When the fastening system has failed, all the roof tiles must be removed and reattached with new corrosion-resistant fasteners. If possible, all the tiles should be numbered and a diagram should be drawn showing the location of each tile to aid in replicating the original pattern and color variations when the tiles are relaid. Ideally, each tile should be numbered to ensure that it is reinstalled in its original location. But this may not always be feasible or practical, and it may be enough simply to group the tiles as they are removed by type and size or function-such as field tiles, custom tiles for hips, dormers and ridges, and specially cut pieces. This will help facilitate reinstallation of the tiles. If all of the tiles have to be removed, it is probably a good idea to consider installing a layer of modern roofing felt over the wood sheathing. This will add another layer of waterproofing, while providing temporary protection during reroofing.


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