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What is a Tile Roof?

Mary McMahon
Updated: Feb 04, 2024

A tile roof is a roof with an uppermost layer made from tiles. Terra cotta tiles such as pantiles which are designed to overlap to create a ridge and gutter design are a classic choice of material for tile roofing, although there are a variety of alternatives on the market. Many people associate tile roofing with Mediterranean-style architecture and design, especially Spanish-style buildings. They are commonly seen in temperate climates. Home supply stores often sell roofing tiles, with the ability to order specialty versions for their customers, and they can also be supplied through roofing companies.

Tile is a very durable, long-lasting roofing material. A tile roof can last up to 100 years, and sometimes even longer, in special cases. In addition to terra cotta tile, it is also possible to find slate or stone tiles, ceramic tiles, and tiles made from concrete. Both molded tiles and tile shingles are available. Some firms specialize in using recycled materials for their tile roofing, such as concrete made with recycled aggregate, thereby making the structure more environmentally friendly.

The main problem with a tile roof is that it requires a great deal of structural support. Tile is extremely heavy, which means that the roof must be reinforced. In climates where snow is common, a tile roof can become even heavier in the winter, with a heavy load of snow on top which will strain the support structure of the home. After all of the reinforcement for the roof is completed, a home will be substantially more expensive, although it will also be sturdier.

In addition to the classic red terra cotta, tile roofs can also be made with cream, yellow, or gray tiles. In some regions, painted tiles or tiles with decorative raised designs may be used. Ornamental tile endcaps may be utilized to make the roof more visually interesting, and to creatively conceal gutters, joins, and other less attractive parts of roof construction.

When remodeling a home with a tile roof, people may want to get several estimates for any work necessary for the roof to ensure that they pay a fair price. It is also a good idea to order extra tiles so that if roof tiles break or become damaged, they can be replaced with tiles which will match. If home owners want to add a tile roof to a home to replace an existing roof, they should be prepared to pay extra for the necessary reinforcement which will ensure that the roof is sound.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By rooftile — On Jul 30, 2010

clay roof tile doesn't need any special care...

By rooftilenick — On Oct 29, 2009

clay roof tile should be stored vertically, in the way they come in the pallet to avoid breakage. They should also be kept unwrapped and preferably in a dry area.

By anon28513 — On Mar 17, 2009

What is the best way to store ceramic roof tile? Should it be stored flat like it will be on the roof or vertically?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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