All About Tile Roofs

So here it is, everything you want to know about the most misunderstood type of roof out there. Tile roofing has been around almost as long as man has put a roof on his house. It can be made from many different materials from clay and slate, to concrete, fiberglass, metal, and high tech composite materials.

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Spanish tile

Pinto tiles are a hand made clay tile that can be found on some older homes and some high end homes wanting that authentic look. Many  times each tile is cemented in place in a very time consuming process resulting in a beautiful roof that can last 100 years. Unless someone walks on it! A freak hailstorm can destroy this type of roof.

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pinto tile. Don’t walk on!!!

Tile roofing is a system and each component must be properly installed and in good condition or water will find a way through. The first part is the felt underlayment which is typically 30# felt but can be 90# roll roofing. This felt is the weakest link. The tiles may last forever, but the felt can deteriorate in a few years if exposed, or last as long as 30 years. On older homes, they can remove the tile carefully, recover the roof with new felt, and then reinstall the tile. The flashings are another important part that must be properly installed. The flashings should overlap the paper with no voids or gaps.

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The paper rots when tile leaks

Now comes the tile. Contrary to what most people believe, the tile is supposed to be  water tight . The paper is a vapor barrier and a second line of defense if water gets past the tile. The paper already has thousands of staples and tile nail holes in it. Repeated moisture and or sun exposure will rot the paper, causing a leak. That is why broken tiles should be repaired.

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below broken tile, roof leak

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Tiles not properly nailed

Proper nailing of tile is also very important. In the southwest, codes typically require the first three rows of  tiles from the bottom, top, and sides to be nailed to prevent wind uplift. Everything else is randomly nailed. At a weight of 10 pounds per square foot, it holds it self down. Steeper roofs and parts of the country with high winds may require additional nailing. When the tile is not nailed, this may be the result:

Now if you are having a new home built, your builder may tell you the tile is warrantied for 25 years but that is for the product only. If you ask them more about it, most likely the workmanship is guaranteed for 5 years not to leak. Is it ok for your new home to start leaking at 6 years? Absolutely not! If you are having a new home built, hire an inspector to check prior to the tile being set, and after the home is complete. The cost of an inspection is much cheaper than roof repairs and mold remediation.

Daren Wright

Wright Inspections LLC

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