Clay roof tiles Patzcuaro Mexico (C) Daniel Friedman Guide to Clay Tile Roof Styles, Shapes, Profiles, Uses
Photo Guide to clay roofing tile shapes

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Guide to clay roofing tile styles and shapes: this article explains the different styles, profiles, and characteristics of clay tile roofing tiles.

Our page top photo shows clay roofing tiles installed in Boca Raton, Florida. On this Florida roof the tiles provide cosmetic appearance and sun protection but on this roof, not waterproofing. This Boca Raton roof relies on a waterproof membrane below the clay tiles to keep water out of the building. This article series explains clay tile roofing types, clay roofing tile inspection, tile roofing diagnosis, & tile roof repair.

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Clay Roofing Tile Styles & Profiles

Typical clay roof tile profiles

Clay roof tiles are available in traditional two-piece styles, one-piece profiles, and flat profiles (Figure 2-18).

Clay tile designs are either overlapping or interlocking, with protruding lips that lock the tiles together and form a weather seal.

Many flat clay tiles interlock. Interlocking designs are recommended for regions with heavy rain or snow. Manufacturers provide special trim tiles to seal the voids formed at ridges, rakes, and hips.

Pan and Cover Style Clay Roof Tiles

This traditional two-piece style, also called barrel- or Mission-style clay tile, is installed in pairs with the cover tile overlapping the pan tile. It provides an attractive high-profile look but is labor-intensive and expensive to install.

Variations include Roman and Greek profiles, which have flat, rather than curved, pan tiles. Tiles typically range from 8 to 12 inches in width and from 16 to 19 inches long.

Spanish S-tile Clay Roofing Tiles

Spanish S-tiles used on roofs are one-piece tiles provide the high-profile look of traditional pan-and-cover tile but with simpler installation. The most popular S-tiles measure about 13 inches wide by 16 1/2 inches long. Other common sizes are 8 3/4 x11 and 9 x14 inches.

Flat Shingle Style Clay Roof Tiles

Flat shingle style clay roofing tiles are laid in a double thickness, like slate. These clay roof tile widths range from 6 to 8 inches, lengths from 12 to 18 inches.

Interlocking Clay Roofing Tiles©

Interlocking clay roof tile (C) Daniel Friedman

Interlocking clay roof tiles (photo at left) are either flat or low profile and are laid in a single thickness with a 3-inch overlap.

They have interlocks on the sides with channels or ribs, and butts may also lock into the tops of the underlying shingles. Contours and ribs add strength to the tiles.

Widths typically range from 9 to 13 inches and lengths from 11 to 16 inches.

Additional photographs of types of clay roof tiles can be found at CLAY TILE ROOFING.


Choices of Clay Roof Tiles for Freezing Climates

The two glazed roof tiles shown below were on homes in freezing climates of Norway (below left) and Duluth, MN (below right). Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction points out that

To make tiles, moist clay is extruded through a die or cast in a mold and then fired in a kiln until the clay “vitrifies,” fusing the particles together. Complete vitrification will create a strong tile with very low water absorption, which protects tile from freeze-thaw damage in cold climates or damage from salt air in coastal areas.

Watch out: Where regular freeze-thaw cycling is expected, roof tiles should comply with ASTM C1167 Grade 1, which allows minimal water absorption. Grade II tile provides moderate resistance to frost action, and Grade III tile is porous and should not be used in freeze-thaw areas.

When buying clay tile, look for at least a 50-year warranty on both durability and fading. Costs vary widely, depending on quality, style, and the shipping distance required. In general, patterns using smaller tiles will cost more for both materials and labor.

Glazed clay roof tiles in Norway (C) Daniel Friedman Glazed clay roof tiles in Duluth Minnesota (C) Daniel Friedman

Clay Roofing Tile Color Choices

Clay roof tiles in 2 colors (C) Daniel FriedmanClay roofing tiles come in a wide range of colors. Color-through tile takes the natural color of the clay, ranging from light tan to pink and red.

Our clay roof tile photo (left) shows that a repair tile has been inserted and does not match the original roof in color or texture. This roof had other broken tiles (and leaks) apparently from foot traffic.

Other colors can be added to the tile surface as a clay slurry before firing, but slurry coatings are only suitable for warm climates, as they cannot withstand freeze-thaw cycles.

Clay tile can also be colored with ceramic glazes [see our photographs just above] to create a durable, glass-like surface in just about any color.

In general, clay tiles do not fade in the sun. [Above we discussed selection of clay roofing tiles for freezing climates].

Blended Clay Roof Tile Patterns

Some jobs require the installer to mix two or three different colors in a random pattern. The best way to achieve this is to premix bundles on the ground with the correct proportion of each color, then send them up to the roof for installation. Periodically inspect the roof from the ground for hot spots or streaking.

Clay Roof Tile Sources & Manufacturers

Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction [at REFERENCES] lists these producers and sources of clay roofing tiles, roof tile fastening systems, and related clay roofing products

Clay Roofing Tile Fasteners & Adhesives - Sources & Manufacturers

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.


Continue reading at CLAY, CONCRETE, FIBER CEMENT ROOF TILE CHOICES or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.



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