Home Maintenance: Replacing Or Repairing A Clay Tile Roof

Clay tile roofs are long lasting and very durable, but if allowed to go too long without repair, they will need to be replaced. Learn how to repair or replace it yourself with these tips and instructions.

Clay tile roofs are not only beautiful, but are long lasting and very durable. They are also oftentimes the most historically appropriate roofing for older homes. However, they are not infallible and will, from time to time, need repair. Clay tile roofs allowed to go too long without repair will, unfortunately, need to be replaced.

If your house has the good fortune of sporting a clay tile roof, plan to inspect it at least annually - twice a year is even better. Use binoculars to inspect it from the ground, then get up on the roof and inspect the flashings and sections you cannot see from the ground.

When walking on a clay tile roof, take care to distribute your weight over several tiles. The tiles are relatively durable, but there is no need to take risks. Additionally, be aware the tiles will be slippery when wet, so limit your inspection to dry days.

Make note of any cracked tiles, tiles that are out of place, or missing tiles. Also look for missing or disintegrating mortar.

If you find a cracked tile, determine if the crack is so severe that the entire tile needs to be replaced, or if the tile can be repaired in place. If the crack can be repaired, mix up a small amount of mortar and carefully fill in the crack. Be sure to wet the tile with plenty of water to help the mortar set up properly.

If a tile needs to be completely replaced, carefully remove the nails that hold the tile into place and slip the tile out of its position. If slipping the tile out will be difficult without moving surrounding tiles, consider breaking the damaged tile into smaller pieces with a hammer. Remove all of the old tile pieces. Slip the new tile into place, making small adjustments to surrounding tiles if needed. Carefully nail the new tile into place with new copper nails.



If you find cracked or missing mortar, thoroughly wet the surrounding tiles, mix up new mortar, and apply as needed.

A professional should make any extensive or difficult repairs. Often, the money spent paying a professional to repair your clay tile roof will be well worth it.

Sometimes, the damage to a roof is so extensive that it is best to completely remove all or most of the tiles and re-lay them. This can be necessary if the number of broken tiles is large, or if a few broken tiles have allowed enough water to penetrate that the underlying wood has begun to rot. This is a job best handled by a professional.

When hiring someone to work on your clay tile roof, ensure that they have previous experience working with tile roofs. If you must have your roof re-laid, emphasize the importance of re-using as many tiles as possible, and of finding replacement tiles as close to the original tiles as possible. Have the roofer install the new tiles in the back or on hidden areas of the roof, saving the original tiles for more visible areas.

With proper maintenance and repairs, clay tile roofs will last for 100 years or more.

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