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Denver Roofing: Article About Historic Clay Tile Roof Failures

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Of the many roofing materials, clay tiles have the longest lifespan. If they're properly cared for, clay tiles can easily last over 100 years. Many historic buildings have tile roofs that are a few hundred years old. The lifespan of the material comes with the proper maintenance, however. A historic clay tile roof requires a thorough inspection every year, both internally and externally. Since this process is a bit more involved than most homeowners think, they should have these inspections performed by their local Denver roofing professionals.

While some homeowners may believe that clay tile roofs fail due to the tiles themselves, the truth is that the tiles are very hardy. The fastening system, however, needs to be repaired or replaced far more often than the actual tiles themselves. Depending on how old the house is, the materials used to fasten the tiles can vary. Very early tiles on historic structures were affixed with wooden pegs, and they were most likely replaced with iron nails. Iron may be tough, but, when it's hammered into oak, the tannic acid will corrode the iron. If a roof is leaking, homeowners should have the fastening systems looked at before tearing the tiles off.

The support system is critical for clay tiles.

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These tiles are incredibly heavy, so it's incredibly important that the roof's support system is in good shape. This begins with gutter maintenance. Backed up gutters mean water flows where it shouldn't, and it usually winds up inside the roof structure itself. When water seeps beneath the tiles, it creeps into the sheathing and roofing battens, resulting in weak, rotting wood.

Clay tiles rarely fail unless they're broken by force. Hail, falling debris, or careless workers can easily crack or shatter the tiles. If the home has trees surrounding it, homeowners should retain a good tree trimming service to ensure the branches are kept trimmed and away from the roof. A falling branch can damage a significant portion of the roof's tiles, creating a very expensive and immediate problem. Until broken tiles can be replaced, sheets of plywood or plastic should be placed over the tiles to protect the materials underneath them as much as possible.

Clay tiles are beautiful and durable, requiring very little upkeep overall. If homeowners have purchased an older home with an existing clay tile roof, they should make a commitment to having it properly inspected every year to prevent expensive problems.

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