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Roof Tiles, Questions Answered

What are the Main Types of Roof Tiles?

There are generally three main types of roof tiles for use upon a pitched roof, and these are; clay, concrete, and slate. The choice of tile should be informed by the pitch and the structural capabilities of a roof.

Alongside performance and aesthetic attributes all tiles have a minimum pitch requirement and weight. Building regulations can be required and this should always be given consideration with professional advice sought when replacing, constructing or re-tiling a roof.

“After a period of time the roof on existing buildings will need to be replaced. In most situations, this work will need Building Regulations approval…. If the existing roof covering is to be replaced with a different material to its original for example, slate to tiles, then approval under the Building Regulations is likely to be needed to ensure the roof will be adequate in terms of structural stability.”

What is a Clay Tile?

Clay roof tiles are one of the most popular tile choices and these durable attractive tiles are created from the traditional material of kiln baked clay / terracotta and aggregate. The tiles historic individual hues and textures were created due to the firing temperatures, firing times and the initial mix, however today colour precision is achieved with high-quality dyes.

Requiring little maintenance, fire, pest and decay resistant when professionally installed this product has good longevity. These tiles can be heavy, and can be more expensive initially, but this can be offset by the low level and minimal cost of required ongoing maintenance.

“Using clay, slate or concrete gives a roof a longer life expectancy.”

What is a Concrete Roof Tile?

Concrete roof tiles are a heat and pressure moulded mixture of sand, cement and water. Interlocking ribbed edges enhance prevention of water infiltration.

These durable interlocking or plain tiles should have a similar life expectancy to clay tiles with a minimum of 30 years in average conditions.

As concrete tiles can be created in a range of colours and designs to replicate other materials, they account for around 60 percent of the UK market. Quick to fit and cost effective, they can blend well with other types of tile, providing excellent coverage capacity with less weight than a clay alternative.

Concrete Roof TileConcrete Roof Tile

A roof is defined as a thermal element of a property, and energy efficiency should therefore be considered when deciding upon a tile.

Concrete interlocking tiles can achieve an 'A+' rating (the lowest environmental impact) in the BRE's Green Guide to Specification. Projects using these concrete tiles can now achieve extra credits under BREEAM and The Code for Sustainable Homes.

“As a roof is defined as a thermal element, the work to re-cover a roof should also include for improving the thermal insulation properties of the roof.”

What is a Slate Roof Tile?

Slates or slate roofing tiles are fire resistant, low maintenance and long lasting. Available in shades of grey and blue grey, their distinctive appearance will not fade over time.

They are hardy and suitable for even the most exposed sites. Environmentally, composite slate tiles like the Redland Cambrian Full Slate range, with the look and feel of slate, are created from up to 60 percent recycled slate and can be used on pitches as low as 15°.

Slate Roof TileSlate Roof Tile

Alongside interlocking and plain tiles there are also special tiles constructed for a particular purpose some examples of these include:

  • Round hip tiles – enable the creation of a seamless finish and pristine rounded roof edges
  • Bonnet hip tiles – covers hip edges on plain tile roofs, on pitches between 35 and 50 degrees
  • Ridge tiles – curved semi-circular tile used to create a curved roof ridge where two pitch sides meet
  • Ridge tiles – angular tiles used to create a sharp roof ridge where two pitch sides meet
  • Left-handed external 90° angle tiles in left configuration for use with plain vertical tiling
  • Right-handed external 90 ° angle tiles in right configuration for use with plain vertical tiling

These special tiles allow joint areas on the roof, where the sides of the roof come to a pitch, or where the roof changes direction to accommodate the shape of the building, to remain watertight.

The design of these tiles can add an aesthetic feature as in the bonnet hip tile or round hip tile or be purely functional.

Types of Roof TilesTypes of Roof Tiles

When Does a Roof Need Attention?

A guideline for the average lifespan of a roof is 20 years, as although the tiles may be sound there are many other elements that together create the roof structure.

Signs to consider possible issues can be moss which would burrow between cracks allowing water to permeate through into the cavity and needs removing. Holes in the surface may be a simple repair job or an indication of something more serious. Water damage could again be the result of extensive or smaller roofing issues and seeking professional advice would determine the size of the task.