Clay Tile


Common roof systems in Arizona: The Clay Tile Roof System

Clay is a natural resource that has been used for centuries to form all sorts of things out of, from pots to figuring and roof tile. When the clay is formed correctly and cured, it makes a beautiful roofing material, since clay is common in the southwest we see clay being used in roofing going back for centuries. Clay roof tile can be formed into almost any shape and painted, have color added or glazed for a finished look, the more modern concrete tile is designed to mimic the look of clay with has a very distinct southwestern look.

The manufacturing process
Clay is molded and formed, then baked to produce a curved tile. There are often various textures and different sizes and shape of the curves, which add to the elegance of clay tile, in my opinion.

The system components

  • Decking
  • Underlayment
  • Flashing
  • Securement: fastened to the deck, installed on batons, or hung on a wire, or set in mortar
  • Mortor

How the system is installed
There are several methods of installing a clay tile roof, each one with its own pros and cons and finished look. Clay tile can be fastened directly to the deck, which probably the easiest way to install it and is also the most common way to install it. There are also wire or strapping systems that can be used, which are designed to hand the tile from a wire or strap when the installation required avoiding nailing to the deck, or at flashings that the roofer does not want to puncture. Clay tile can also be installed on batons using lugs built into the tile in the same way concrete tile is installed. Or clay tile may installed by setting them mortar, which I personally find the most attractive and takes the most skill.

Service life expectancy
The tile its self can last for decades be, however, clay tile is very fragile and easily damaged. The underlayment, on the other hand, can last from 10 to 20 years depending on the type of underlayment. If the tile has been damaged and water is flowing onto the underlayment, it can accelerate the deterioration of the underlayment shortening its service life.

What does Remove and Replace mean
Tile typically has a much longer life cycle then the underlayment does. Removing the tile, replacing the underlayment is referred to as an R and R or remove and replace.

Henry Staggs
Roof Consultant and Roofing Industry Advocate
(480) 265-1613

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