Clay Tile Roof Installation: 5 Mistakes to Avoid


If you decide to install clay tile roofing onto your house, you should take care to avoid some common mistakes. The installation of clay tile roofing requires a skill that is acquired through experience, and is sometimes better left to professional roofing contractors. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, or whether you do it yourself or hire an expert, this article will supply you with some useful information on the subject of clay tile roofing.

Clay tile roofing is gaining increasing popularity for residential applications for several reasons. In the United States and in certain geographic regions world-wide, clay tile roofing has proven to be a durable, fire-resistant, environment-friendly alternative to other synthetic, roofing materials. This is in addition to the design style and aesthetic quality can be achieved with clay tile roofing. Here are 5 things you should know if you are considering clay tile roofing for you home. 

1. Clay Tile Grades

The porosity of the clay tiles refers to its ability to absorb water. This becomes important in colder climates that have an annual freeze-thaw cycle. Water absorbed within a clay tile will expand when frozen, which can cause the tile to crack. Clay tiles are therefore categorized in a grading system; Grade 1 through 3. Grade 1 offers the most resistance to frost while Grade 3 offers little if any frost protection.

2. Tile Weight

Clay tiles are considerably heavier than other types of roofing such as asphalt shingles and can range anywhere between 500 to 1200 lbs. per square. An experienced contractor or a professional engineer will be able to tell you if the structural wood roof frame is sufficient to bear the weight of the clay tiles. A house frame constructed with lightweight prefabricated roof trusses is generally not intended to support the loads imposed by a clay tile roof. Clay tile roofing is commonly applied to steeper pitches; clay tiles are typically selected only for roofs that have a pitch greater than 4 inches.

3. Tile Type

Clay tiles are available in a variety of sizes, shapes and compositions. The tiles are classified as either the “profile” type, which includes pan and cover, S-tile and interlocking, or the flat type which can be interlocking or non-interlocking. Roofing is installed in units of area called “squares”; a square is equal to 100 square feet. When calculating costs, remember that smaller tiles cost more per square to install than larger tiles covering the same area.

4. Install Safely

If you are doing the work yourself, begin installing the clay tiles at the eave near a corner and work horizontally and upward. Remain on the sheathing as you work. Avoid walking on the installed clay tiles; they can easily crack under the weight.

5. Repair Cracked Tiles Immediately

Make repairs as necessary. Clay tile roofing is inherently high-maintenance. After the job is completed you may eventually notice that individual tiles have become cracked or broken, or are missing altogether. If enough water is allowed to penetrate to the wood sheathing beneath the tiles, it can cause rot and damage that can lead to a much larger and more expensive repair project.