Clay tile roof

Clay tile roof first appeared in China. Due to the influence of climate, the tile type is not suitable for areas with a lot of rainfall. Rome and Spain also have a long period of use of clay tiles. Thanks to the differences in climate, the same raw materials have formed different styles in different regions.

When clay tiles first appeared, they could not be used by more families due to cost constraints. But for families who can afford it, clay tiles are the first choice.

Another limiting factor is shipping. With the transportation conditions at the time, it was impossible to transport clay tiles to further distances. Fragile and heavy, so the shipping journey won’t take more than a day.

These limitations With the economic development and social stability of the late Middle Ages, clay tiles were mass-produced and shipped around the world. Beginning in the 17th century, clay tiles became a common roofing material in Rome.

Improvements in firing techniques in the 19th century led to the replacement of clay tiles by other roofing materials, such as slate roofs. Slate is cheaper and quickly replaced clay tiles as the first choice for all homes.

The 20th century saw a revival of machine-made clay tiles, especially during World War II. The construction of the new building required the use of a large amount of roofing material, again dominated by a machine-made clay tile roof.

Stone-coated steel roofs appeared during World War II. To protect important structures from aircraft, engineers applied glue and stone particles to the surface of the metal roof. Later, after years of improvement, stone-coated steel roofing with more colors and shapes entered the roofing material market.

Official data says that clay tiles have a lifespan of 60 years, but in some remote places, you can find clay tile roof that is more than a hundred years old.

The longevity of the tile itself depends on many factors, manufacturing process, roof slope, and post-maintenance.

Manufacturing process: The firing temperature determines the service life of the clay tile, and the temperature of some clay roof tiles cannot reach perfection.

Roof Slope: Clay bricks are best used for a 40° roof slope because their own weight can cause overall stress.

Post-maintenance: The surface of clay tiles is rough and the raw materials are clay and other substances, so they have become the favorite living environment for fungi. If you want to remove them, chemical removal is the most effective method. But please strictly follow the operation steps to avoid harm to the human body.

Advantages and disadvantages of clay tile roofing

Advantages of clay roof tiles

  • Longevity: Clay tiles are one of the longest lasting roofing materials and can last up to 100 years.
  • Durable: Clay tiles are fire resistant and have the highest A fire rating. They are wind-resistant, by stacking the tiles on top of each other.

Disadvantages of clay roof tiles

  • Expensive: Clay tiles are one of the most expensive roofing materials, costing nearly $1,000 per square meter.
  • Fragility: Clay tiles are brittle and cannot effectively support people walking on them.
  • Fear of cold: Clay tiles tend to crack in cooler temperatures.

Difference Between Clay Tile Roof and Concrete Tile Roof

Water absorption

One of the differences between absorbent clay roof tiles and concrete roof tiles. The water absorption rate of concrete tiles is about 13%, and the water absorption rate of clay tiles is 6%, so concrete tiles are more prone to the growth of fungi. Higher water absorption also means that concrete tiles will become heavier, which is very unfriendly to the structure of the house. Clay bricks avoid this because of their low water absorption.


Concrete tiles are 40% heavier than clay roof tiles, which is a big gap. Concrete weighs between 1,100 pounds per 100 square feet at 820 pounds, and clay tiles range from 600 to 650 pounds. Therefore, homeowners need to choose according to the structure of the house.

Cracks and breaks

Clay tile roofs are not strong, although they can last up to a hundred years. Cold can cause them to crack, so they usually appear in warmer areas. The most representative clay tiles are Spanish tile roofs or Roman tile roofs. The large curvature is conducive to drainage to adapt to the local hot and rainy climate.

The clay tile roof could not support walking and was broken at any time. Debris can cause the soles of the feet to slip, creating a great safety hazard.

Clay roofing tile colors

You might notice that the roofs in Europe are red because of the local clay chemistry. Red and yellow, depending on the calcium content of the clay. Brown and grey, depending on the oxygen content during firing.