Ceramic roof tiles: Types, Installation, Cost

Ancient Greeks and Romans built majestic cities with magnificent temples and large buildings. They were extremely beautiful as we know from remaining writings and murals. One of the most important reasons of those buildings being so beautiful was their roofs. Ceramic roof tiles remains the most awesome type of roofing even nowadays.

Ceramic roof tiles of home
Ceramic roof tiles of home

Gently bent tiles form some kind of fish scales on the roof of the house. Their natural color is brown, but mixed with iron oxide they gain noble terra cotta color after heating in kiln. They are the most eco-friendly roofing material known by mankind; they provide excellent rain, wind and heat protection. The only thing about them is that they are very fragile and can be damaged by any impact.

Spaniards brought ceramic tile roofing tradition to Mexico and all their colonies in the New World and it spread widely across the southern part of the US. Some of their buildings stand till our times and quite a plenty is constructed yearly by construction companies across the US. Those houses look extremely classy and outstanding with ceramic roof tiles and they will look that way for next several hundreds of years.

Types Of Ceramic Roof Tiles

There are several main kinds of ceramic tiles:

  • flat tiles widely used in Germany,
  • imbrex and tegula tiles of Ancient Roman origin,
  • Roman tiles as a more modern type,
  • Mission or barrel tiles,
  • S-shaped pantiles and others.

The bad thing about this kind of roofing is its extreme fragility and that no repairs for the broken tiles can be made. The only way to fix some broken tiles is to replace them totally.

Technical ceramic tile roof
Technical ceramic roof tiles

This is best to be done in pair with your friend and you should use some very steady ladder, because falling on the roof will cause much more damage than one broken tile you were going to replace. To avoid this you should crawl on your roof to minimize pressure on the tiles.

How to Install Clay Roof Tile

Tiles usually have holes for nails, special peg fasteners or wires. They are nailed to parallel rows of wooden bars. Construction starts from the lowest part of the roof up to the top. Each next row overlaps the previous one for about 30% of the surface. This allows rainwater to flow downwards without leaking between tiles and allows hiding nail heads from water to avoid corrosion.

Video: Installing Ceramic Hip Tiles on a Slate Roof.

Sometimes vertical securement is used instead of horizontal. This is very usable if you have conic or pyramidal roof. Chains are secured to the roof and tiles are wired down to them. Mortars are often used to secure tiles. But this makes your roof even heavier.

The other bad thing is that ceramic tiles are heavy. You should have a really durable and steady roof surface to place ceramic tiles over it. Otherwise, you will risk those tiles caving into your house.

However, recent science discoveries did not go unnoticed by the industry. Adding special hardeners and pressing ceramics while heating allows production of more durable tiles. Nevertheless they are still durable and can be broken.

Ceramic Roof Tiles
Foto: Ceramic Roof Tiles

This is why people always searched alternatives to ceramic roofs. And it may have been found recently. Rubber roofing materials provide you with a possibility to have an awesome looking tile roof without the risk of breaking tiles. Rubber shingles are made of reprocessed car tires and other rubber waste. They are melted and pressured to form shingles and can be painted into any color during heating. This color will never fade as it is a part of the shingle structure.

As you can see, placing ceramic roof tiles on your house will make it gorgeous and impressive. If you can afford it, do not hesitate to give your house extremely superb appearance!

5 Useful Tips about Clay Tile Roof Installation

Do you want to have a supreme, exquisite and adorable, yet still functional and useful roof for your house? Do you want it to last for decades without a need to repair it frequently? Then you definitely have to choose clay tile roofing! Try it and you will not regret!

This is one of the oldest and the best types of roofing used by humanity. Ancient Greeks and Romans used it in their buildings, and still remaining murals show us the beauty of those buildings. Such kind of roofing protects you from water during the rain, heat in summer and cold in winter. It can last for about 400 years without losing its beauty and effectiveness.

tile roof
Foto: tile roof


Clay Tile Roof Installation Requirements

Clay tiles are usually 7″ x 13″ and 1/4″ to 1/2″ in thickness. Wet clay is put into forms, shaping it as future tiles and then heated in a kiln for up to 2000degF to vitrify. It becomes smooth, hard, waterproof – but not too durable. So it is best not to drop or smash it. Natural color of unglazed clay tiles is terracotta, but it can be glazed in different colors to make your roof a masterpiece of architecture and design.

To place them your roofing should have a slope of at least 1″ per 4″ to allow water drainage. Each tile is placed above the previous one and covers from 10 to 30 percent of its surface. They have holes for nails, wires or fasteners to hold them in position. If supporting battens are placed horizontally, gaps should be left in them for water drainage.

kickout tilediagram
Kickout tilediagram


Tiles can be placed in three possible ways – vertically, horizontally, or in a cone. If you live in a sunny and hot but not too windy or rainy area, the wisest for you would be to place them horizontally. For excessive rainy and windy areas vertical placement is the best. If you have round or conic roof, you will position tiles in a cone.

If you live in an area with regular heat and cold changes, your roof should comply with ASTM C1167 Grade 1, which allows the ability of minimal water absorption. Grade II should provide medium resistance to freezing, and Grade III is porous and can be used only in southern areas without extremely snowy cold seasons like Florida, Arizona, Texas, California or New Mexico.

Those clay tiles are heavy. Your roofing should be really stable and durable to hold them. Check it twice to avoid them breaking your roof and caving in.

  • You should realize that clay is not as durable as steel plates, slates or corrugated plastic. They are best to be placed above other roofing for decorative purposes. As tiles aren’t very durable, try to avoid walking on them during construction. Use a ladder instead to avoid costly repairs. Do this with your friend to help each other and make the job easier, or hire professionals if you can afford it.
  • For protection from strong wind you should use tile locks or/and mortars. Ridges of the roofing are protected with special flashings that cover both neighboring tiles in order to prevent damage from strong wind or extreme snow load.
tile installation methods
Tile installation methods


  • For horizontal placement, use wooden battens and nail tiles to them in a row, starting from the lowest part of the roofing up to the top. This can be used for “S” type tiles.
  • For vertical placement there are several possible ways of fixation. Spanish or mission tiles have an eave closure with a hole for water drainage, and are either nailed or secured with peg fasteners. Tapered or barrel mission style tiles are nailed to supporting battens.
  • Sometimes chains are being put instead of vertical battens. Chains are anchored to the roofing, and tiles covering them are wired to the chains. This is very useful for conic roofs.

After your clay tile roof installation will be complete, your house will become outstanding and beautiful, awesome and remarkable. This roofing will last for decades without losing its beauty and efficiency. You deserve it – so why not order it?

How Much Does A Ceramic Tile Roof Cost?

Prices for ceramic tiles lie within 5-15 dollars per square foot. 2500 square foot of roof will need to spend about 10000 to 15000 usd.