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What Are Clay Roof Tiles Called

Field And Specialty Tile

How to TILE A ROOF with Clay or Concrete Tiles – New Roof

The tiles that cover the majority of the flat surface of the roof are called field tile. Some roof shapes, particularly conical towers or turrets, require tiles of graduated sizes, and some shapes or patterns of field tile also require specially shaped finish tiles to complete the roof covering package. Other uniquely-shaped tiles were made to fit odd-shaped spaces and places including dormers and valleys, roof hips, rakes, ridges and corners. There are also finish tiles that fulfill certain needs, such as eave closures or clay plugs called birdstops. These are intended to keep out snow and rain, and birds from nesting in the voids under the bottom row of curved tiles. Different patterns and designs can also be created by combining, or mixing and matching flat tiles with dimensional tiles.

How Tiles Are Attached Return To Top

The method used to attach clay roofing tiles varies according to the shape, size and style of the particular tile. For the most part, traditional and modern methods of installing clay roofing tiles are very similar, except that modern practice always includes the use of wood sheathing and roofing felt. But most of the earliest clay roofing tiles were laid without benefit of wood sheathing and hung directly on roofing laths and battens that were nailed to the roof rafters this practice continued up into the mid-19th century in some regions. While this method of attachment allowed for plenty of ventilation, and made it easy to find leaks and make repairs, it also meant that the overall water-tightness of the roof depended entirely on the tiles themselves.

Projections on the underside of these replacement Spanish clay tiles help them adhere to the cement mortar on the roof sheathing. Photo: NPS files.

Gradually, the practice evolved of nailing roofing tiles directly onto continuous wood sheathing, or hanging them from nibs on horizontal lath that was attached to roof rafters or sheathing. Some kinds of tile, especially the later Mission or Barrel tiles were laid over vertical strips or battens nailed to the sheathing, or the tiles were fastened to wood purlins with copper wire.

These tapered barrel clay tiles were accurately reproduced from archeological materials found on site. Photo: NPS files.

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Clay Barrel Tile Roofing

Traditional clay barrel tiles are semi-cylindrical. Mission-style barrel tiles are laid in an interlocking pattern, with flat or concave tiles forming a base and rounded convex tiles placed on top to create a rippled or ridged surface. The mission-style tiles get their name from the Spanish Missions, which used these curved tiles as a more waterproof replacement for earlier roofing materials.

An older variation of the barrel roof style is the imbrex and tegula tiles used in ancient Greek and Roman architecture. This style of barrel tile featured a wide, flat or slightly curved under piece called the “tegula” and a more narrow, semi-cylindrical piece called the “imbrex,” which would cover the upturned edges of the tegula. With their roots in ancient history, barrel clay tile roofs can be found throughout the Mediterranean today.

Spanish S-shaped barrel tiles date back hundreds of years Spain and were first introduced to American architecture in Florida. They are easier for roofers to lay than other types of barrel tiles since they come in a single shape.

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What Are Roof Tiles

Roof tiles are primarily made to keep water out of a home. However, they differ from traditional asphalt shingle roofs in both their material composition as well as their looks. As far back as the 1600s, slate tile roofs were being used, and clay roofs can be traced back as far as 10,000 BC! Slate and clay were popular because they were locally available materials but as we moved into the 19th century, concrete and metal tiles started to appear on a regular basis.

Sturdy Roofs That Last

Brookhurst handmade clay roof tiles

Clay roof tiles work well with nearly any slope, so theyre found on many different styles of homes. Terracotta is frequently used because it maintains its color for decades, even in Floridas sun. Clay is an all-natural material thats easy to maintain, wont burn, and can last over a century. With these exceptional qualities, its easy to see why clay is so popular.

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Interlocking Roof Tiles Types

As the name suggests, interlocking roof tiles interlock at their sides, making them waterproof. They are an alternative to double lapping, which requires more tiles to cover the same roofing area.

Moreover, interlocking tiles are larger. Therefore, fewer of them are needed to cover the entire roof. Another advantage of this type of tile is a quick and straightforward installation process. That means they are more cost-effective to install than plain tiles.

Clay Tile Roof Installationeaves Ridge Hip Rake Closure

  • about how clay tile roof openings are enclosed or sealed at eaves, ridge, hips, etc.

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Clay roofing tile hip, ridge & rake installation & closure details:

This article describes the special connection methods used seal or close the ridge, hip, and rake sections of clay tile roofs.

This article series explains clay tile roofing types, clay roofing tile inspection, tile roofing diagnosis, & tile roof repair.

We also provide an ARTICLE INDEX for this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

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What Are Terracotta Roof Tiles

The word terracotta literally means “baked earth.” Terracotta roof tiles are made from hard fired clay. Terracotta roofing tiles are synonymous with clay roofing tiles. Clay roof tiles are also sometimes referred to as ceramic roof tiles.

That covers the primary materials of construction when it comes to roofing tiles.

Before we look at some of the more common shapes of roof tiles in use today…

Check out the tile roof in this video.

The History And Beauty Of The Terracotta Roof

How To Install Roof Tiles in South Florida | Perkins Roofing Corp.

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The terracotta roof is a common architectural feature in Europe and around the Mediterranean. These roofing tiles are beautiful as well as durable and functional. Yet, despite its obvious benefits, terracotta roof tiles are not a common roofing material around the United States.

There are circumstances and areas where these roofing tiles work well and some where they do not. We are going to explore a brief history of terracotta to help understand this amazing material better.

Also, we will consider some homes with terracotta roofing to see if you like the look and if it may be an option you want to consider.

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Better Than Clay Tiles And Shingles Brava Composite Barrel Roof Tiles

Why settle for one or the other when Brava synthetic barrel roof tiles will give you the benefits of both clay tiles and shingles without the disadvantages?

  • Easy installation that does not require a clay tile specialist
  • 50-year lifetime limited warranty
  • Lightweight no additional roof structure needed
  • Eco-friendly and sustainable composition

Everything You Need To Know About Ceramic Roofs

Ceramic tile shingles offer a touch of elegance and style to any roof. They are perfectly suited for homeowners who desire a distinctive exterior design with a resilient nature. Made for durability and outstanding performance, ceramic roof tiles have proven strong against water, wind, and extreme heat so you can rest easy knowing that your dream home is built to last.

Sometimes, ceramic tiles may be synonymous with clay tiles. This is because ceramic tile shingles originate as clay tiles milled clay is mixed with additives such as water and sand and then shaped into custom molds of various shapes and sizes. Once removed from the molds, the shingles are carefully dried and later fired in a high-temperature kiln to ensure durability and fire resistance. This creates the well-known terracotta clay tile of natural earthy-brown and red hues.

Unglazed terracotta clay tiles offer distinctive natural tones but remain very porous and are susceptible to mold or water stains over time. This is why natural clay tiles must be either treated with a sealant or glazed for protection from the elements. Glazing is a process that involves the bonding of a glass-like surface finish to the clay tile through a second kiln-firing process. Dyes may be blended with the glaze before the second firing, resulting in a waterproof and stainproof ceramic tile in the color of your choice.

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What Makes Clay Roof Tiles So Appealing

Durable and Beautiful

Clay roof tiles have been known to last over 100 years. They resist high winds, hail, and usually carry a Class A fire rating which is the best rating available. They also keep their good looks for many years adding to your homes curb appeal and resale value.

Environmentally Friendly

Clay roof tiles are primarily composed of natural clay and water making them easy to recycle.

Energy Efficient

They are energy efficient holding heat in themselves rather than transferring it to the attic below. Due to the shapes they are manufactured into, they allow good airflow which helps keep heat from building up on the roof, allowing it to dissipate into the atmosphere.

Historical Background Return To Top

Dreadnought Premium Clay Eaves Tile

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. Marys 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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What Are The Primary Differences Between Concrete And Clay Tiles

1. Water Absorption

Concrete roofing tiles have a water absorption of about 13%, while clay roofing tiles have a water absorption of about 6%. Consequently, this higher rate of water absorption leads to the development of mildew and stains on concrete tiles.

Absorbed water also increases the already heavy weight of a concrete tile and puts increases pressure on the roof structure. These issues are very minimal in clay tiles due to their low water absorption rate.

2. Weight

Concrete tiles can weigh almost 40% more than clay tiles. Concrete tiles can weigh anywhere from 820 to 1.100 pounds per square , depending on the style, while most clay roofing tiles weigh only 600 650 pounds per square. As a result, it is more difficult for the roof structure to adequately support the heavier weight of concrete tiles vs. clay tiles.

In some cases, concrete tiles are not recommended for use on buildings, unless the roof framing is reinforced to support the added weight.

Propensity to crack and shatter

In colder climates, clay tiles have a tendency to crack or shatter due to freezing and thawing cycles. As a result, clay tiles are mostly found in warmer climates.

Conversely, concrete tiles are not as susceptible to damage due to freezing temperatures, and therefore can be used in almost any climate.

3. Maintenance

4. Color Longevity and Appearance

Due to its porous nature, concrete tiles are also more prone to stains than clay tiles.

5. Durability

Terracotta Roof: Pros And Cons

Terracotta roof tile has amazing benefits that will work well for many homeowners. However, there are drawbacks that make it a less than ideal choice for some situations.


  • Durability If a clay tile roof is installed well, it can last over 100 years. These tiles are resistant to rot, fire, and wind. In addition, they are durable to some objects that fall from the sky like hail.
  • Style The look of terracotta roof tile is unlike any other. They elevate the look of historic and contemporary buildings and give homes a rustic charm that is hard to match with other roofing tiles.
  • Eco-friendliness Manufacturers can make terracotta roofing tiles from locally sourced raw materials. In addition, clay roof tiles have thermal energy properties that allow them to reduce the heat loss and absorption. Also, they create a good heat transfer barrier that keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.


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Which Type Of Roofing Tile Is Best For My Home

Choosing the roofing tile thats best suited for you and your home is going to depend on many different factors such as aesthetics, weight, weather conditions, and your budget, of course. This article provided you with a bit more clarity on why that is, and further explained the different types of residential tile roofing options available on the market.

At the end of the day, choosing the best type of roofing tile for your home is not a burden you should bare alone. All of this information can be confusing, so be sure to get in touch with a reputable roofing contractor in your area. Theyll help you decide on the perfect option for you. Whether youre looking for a roofing estimate or needing aid in exploring the different types of roofing tiles, RoofCrafters has your back.Browse the extensive resources located in our learning center for more information on the different types of roofing materials. We recommend reading Which Type of Roof Is Best for My Home? to familiarize yourself with the many different types of roofs that are available to you. Be sure to check out our pricing page for cost information regarding the materials listed in this article.

At RoofCrafters, our mission is to provide job opportunities for others to thrive and grow while making a meaningful impact within our communities.

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Northern Italian Roof Tiles

How clay roofing tiles are made.

These tiles are our best selling option as it offers a perfect color pallet: The core are light red but vary from yellowish to deeper red with different shades to salmon to green and sometimes grey . The sizes may vary from 16 ½ to 18 ½ in length, with the bigger opening ranging from 6 ¼ to 7 ½ and the smaller opening ranging from 4 ½ to 5 ½. The reclaimed caps are not drilled and weigh between 4.4lbs and 4.8 lbs each. This is our goto tile for most projects as supply is still good

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Standing Seam Metal Roofing Characteristics Advantages & Disadvantages

The use of metal as a roofing material has been around for centuries and has origins dating back to the 3rd century B.C. in Sri Lanka. The use of metal roofing rose to prominence in the 17th century and eventually made its way to the United States in the early 1800s. Advancements over time added iron, steel, aluminum, and zinc as proper metal roof options. Today, various metal roof styles are used all over the country, as metal roofing is one of the best choices for residential, commercial, architectural, and structural properties.

Physical Properties Of Clay Roof Tiles

  • The tiles shall be free of defects, deciencies, or bloating that would interfere with the laying/placing of the tiles, the performance of the roof, or the requirements of this specication.
  • When broken, tiles shall have a dark area with a steely appearance and are sharply delineated from the surrounding normal color of the tile. This dark area is known as the black heart or black core.
  • The exposed tile surface shall be free of chipping or other imperfections detracting from the appearance when viewed from a distance of 12 m under the illumination of not less than 50 FC by an observer with normal vision.
  • When exposed to 50 cycles of the freezing-and-thawing test, the tile must exhibit no breaking, no crack formation that exceeds the minimum dimension of the specimen, and no more than 0.5 percent loss in dry weight.
  • The transverse breaking strength of tiles shall be determined as described for the flexure test and shall comply with the requirements given in Table 2.
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    The Terracotta Roof: A Brief History

    Terracotta, which means baked-earth, comes from a coarse and porous clay from the earth. Ancient artisans used it to construct vessels like pots and sculptures because it was an inexpensive and moldable material. It has been used to create roofing tiles as long ago in coastal areas in Europe in ancient Greece and in Asia in ancient China.

    The use of terracotta clay roof tiles throughout Europe and Asia continued into the Renaissance when explorers carried these tiles into the New World. Architects have found evidence of clay tiles in old English settlements like Jamestown and Roanoke. Spanish settlements in Florida also used clay roof tiles.

    In the current era, many people use terracotta roofing tiles across Europe and all around the world. In the United States, architects have used clay tiles in Mission-style architecture as well as some Craftsman-style homes. You can see these roofs throughout California and the midwest.


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