How to Maintain a Tile Roof

red tile roof

Homeowners choose tile roofs for their homes due to their elegance, durability, and longevity. However, leaks and the elements can weaken even the most robust roofs over time. With proper maintenance, your roof can last a lifetime, and that starts with knowing how to maintain a tile roof. 

What Are Roofing Tiles?

roof tile construction
Photo Credit: Pxhere

Roofing tiles are made of local, natural, and recyclable materials like clay, concrete, and slate. They stand out from other roofing materials like asphalt shingles and metal by being easily recyclable, having strong weather resistance, and having excellent heat insulation properties.

However, roofing tiles have their downsides. Not only are they expensive to install, but their weight requires a strong underlying structure to support them, either naturally or through extra reinforcement, so they aren’t a fit for every home. 

How Do You Maintain Your Roof?

image of a person washing roof
Photo Credit: S.Buckalew / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Tile roofs might be durable, but they still require regular maintenance to perform at their best. Steps like replacing broken tiles, repairing flashing, and removing dirt and debris can extend your roof’s lifespan

Inspect It

Inspect your roof for cracks, leaks, water damage, weather damage, and mold. If you want a more thorough roof inspection, hire a professional roofing contractor during the spring and fall to see how well your roof held up during the colder and hotter months, respectively. They’ll help you find potential problems before they occur, saving you money and headaches.

Roofs should be inspected two to five years after installation and every few years afterward. If your roof is still under warranty from the original installation, ensure your roofer secures permits before starting work, or you’ll receive code violations.

Clean It

Your roof needs cleaning at regular intervals. Otherwise, mildew, algae, and moss will grow on the roof, dulling its color. Cleaning your roof leads to a cleaner house, thus increasing your home’s curb appeal and prolonging its life. Also, roof cleanings are cheaper than roof replacements, so you win financially, too.

Power washing with water and bleach is the easiest way to clean your roof. However, don’t make the power too high, or the tiles will break. If you power wash, spray from a safe distance to avoid harming your tiles.

A soft wash with a cleaning solution is effective if you want a safer option. Soft washing uses a lower water pressure than power washing, and thus will clean your roof without damaging the tiles. Avoid using harsh chemicals, as they can erode the tiles. 

Regardless of the method, clean the gutters while you’re cleaning the roof. 

Repair It

Making minor roof repairs will save you a lot of money by removing small problems before they become gigantic. Proper roof maintenance will keep your tiles working beyond their life expectancy. The safest option is to call a roofing professional and have them repair your roof, but if you want to do the job yourself, read the Can I Walk on My Tile Roof section for safety tips.

Replace damaged tiles as soon as possible. Broken tiles allow water and sunlight to penetrate their underlayment and damage it, which can be disastrous in extreme weather conditions. 

Remove any debris from your roof. Debris will eventually clog your gutters and lead to water overflow during rainy seasons, which can leak into your house. If you do see roof leaks, stains from leaks, or water damage, get your roof repaired immediately. 

How Long Will a Tile Roof Last?

old roof tile
Photo Credit: Pexels

If tile roofs are installed and maintained correctly, they can last at least 50 years, depending on the material. For example, concrete tiles have an average lifespan of about 50 years, while clay roofing tiles can last up to 100 years.

Several factors hinder a roof’s lifespan.

  1. Extreme weather conditions. Roofing systems can withstand the elements. One of the reasons clay roofs are so popular in Florida is because of clay’s ability to withstand hurricanes. Still, they’re not indestructible. Heavy weather can pound any roof with debris and damage it.
  1. Poor ventilation. If a roof has poor ventilation, it won’t be able to circulate air through the attic, causing moisture to accumulate. Additionally, heat damages the roof when the temperature rises, causing the tiles to cook from the inside.
  1. Poor installation. An improperly installed roof is a major cause of roof failures. For example, an improper roof slope causes water to accumulate and the roofing material to deteriorate due to water damage.

FAQ About How To Maintain a Tile Roof

How Much Does a Tile Roof Cost?

We wrote a pricing guide on how much a roof costs per square (100 square feet), but below are the average roofing tiles prices, including labor and materials.

Roofing MaterialAverage Cost per 100 Square Feet
Metal$650 – $1,300
Concrete Tile$1,067 – $1,733
Clay Tile$1,150 – $2,250
Solar$1,200 – $2,500
Slate$1,250 – $2,750

How Often Should Tile Roofs Be Cleaned?

You should clean your roof within five years of installation, then every two to three years after that. However, if you live in rain-soaked, humid states like Florida or states with lots of snow like Ohio, you’ll want to clean your roof once a year due to a greater risk of moss and algae growth. If you live in a state with a less damp climate, like Arizona, you only need to clean your roof every two years. Annual cleaning is still worth considering, as it can kill moss and damaging growth.

If you live near a dusty area like a production facility or construction zone, getting your roof cleaned annually is a good idea, as it keeps dried dust and debris from accumulating.

Pro tip: In Florida, clean your tile roof after the spring season, as rain and humidity create ideal conditions for mildew, mold, and grime to grow.

Can I Walk on My Tile Roof?

Walking on tile roofs isn’t safe, and roof tile manufacturers don’t warrant breakage due to foot traffic, but it can be necessary for inspections and cleaning. However, there are rules to follow to avoid damage.

  • Step at the bottom three inches of the tiles, as the overlapping bits of tile support the weight and transfer it to the deck below.
  • When you first step on the roof, place your feet parallel to the top ridge alongside the bottom edge.
  • Distribute your weight evenly, walking as slowly as possible.
  • To reduce pressure on the tiles, walk on the balls of your feet.
  • Walk on completely dry tiles to avoid falling.
  • Never jump or leap between tiles.
  • Wear soft-soled shoes to prevent damaging the tiles.
  • Climb a ladder to access the roof safely. The ladder should extend three feet taller than your roof for you to climb it safely.
  • If you have a steep roof, use a safety harness, which will hook you to your roof to keep you from falling off the roof should you slip.

Find a Roofing Pro Near You

Tile roofs might be elegant and durable, but their primary purpose is to protect you from rain and other elements. Unless you maintain your roof, it won’t be as effective at its role.

Roofing maintenance can be unsafe, and calling a professional roofer can be the best way to ensure you’ll have a fully functioning roof over your head for years to come – or if you don’t want to do the maintenance work yourself. 

Main Image Credit: Downtowngal / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Stuart Kushner

Stuart Kushner is a writer and aspiring product designer based in New York City. When he isn’t doing either, Stuart enjoys heavy metal music, exercise, and trying new food and drinks.