How To Walk On A Tile Roof

A home roof covered in clay tiles.
What You'll Need
Basic harness
Climbing rope
An assistant

Clay and concrete tiles are some of the most durable, long-lasting options for home roofing. Since they are storm-resistant, fire-resistant, and environmentally friendly, they appeal to many homeowners. You may choose tiles for your own roof or run into a home that has them already. However, there are a number of reasons you might have to get up onto the roof, in which case you will need to know how to safely navigate without damaging your tiles.

Tip: Roofing tiles can actually get stronger with age, so be extra cautious if you're working with a freshly laid variety.

Assess the Roof and Take Safety Precautions

If your roof has a steep pitch, you may want to avoid getting up there at all. Since clay and concrete tiles can break easily, you can also lose your footing easily and wind up injuring yourself from a fall. You may just want to save the trouble and call a professional if dealing with a sharper incline.

Wear a basic harness with climbing rope as well if you have it, just in case you do slip, and have an assistant nearby with a phone readily available so you aren't alone if you do sustain an injury.

Find Your Path

Barrel and S-shaped tiles are costly to replace and can't sustain weight very well, so it's important that you have an idea of how to proceed before you ever set foot above.

There are a couple of different things to keep in mind. Roofing tiles usually aren't backfilled, so there is no support underneath to take your weight. As such, do not step in the middle of a tile or it will definitely break. A better area to place your feet is actually where the bottom of one tile overlaps the top of another. This is a much stronger section that will be able to hold weight more reliably without incident. So, when you begin walking across your roof, make sure you take the most direct route to where you need to go and carefully make sure each step falls in the right spot.

Also, make sure that you keep an eye out for and avoid any tiles that appear to already be damaged. This may seem obvious, but even something as small as a hairline crack could cause the tile to break under your feet regardless of what you do to avoid it.

Distribute Your Weight

Another important thing to remember is that you will need to distribute your weight evenly between both feet. Whether you're walking or standing as you conduct your work, make sure to stand on separate tiles as well.

Adjust Your Step to the Tiles

A normal walk is not generally the best approach upon a tile roof. Instead, transfer your weight gradually as you walk, and curve your step with the arc of the tile as it falls. Essentially, with each step, place the heel of your foot in the gap between tiles, roll the arch over the tile, and end up with your toe in the next gap.

Correctly walking upon and standing on a tile roof will help prevent you from leaving broken or cracked tiles behind. Make sure to be as careful as possible if you choose to undertake tasks on the roof yourself, and stay safe as well.