Tile roof with brick chimney against a blue sky

Maintenance Tips for Tile Roofs

A tile roof is a durable choice that goes well with a variety of exterior types, from the traditional stucco of the southwest to more modern options. Follow these maintenance tips to ensure that your roof lasts for as long as you own your home.

Annual Cleaning

Dirt and debris on your tile roof don’t just affect the appearance, they can also lead to issues like hidden damage and cracked tiles.

Debris Removal

Small debris like twigs and leaves can get stuck in the uneven surface of a tile roof. Not only is this buildup of debris unattractive, it can trap moisture against the tiles. The increased moisture increases the chances of algae growth, staining and water damage. 

To minimize debris accumulation, trim back trees so they don’t overhang the roof. You can also rinse the roof periodically with a garden hose attachment, which will allow you to remove small amounts of loose debris without climbing onto the roof.

Pressure Washing

Some debris can’t simply be swept away, such as bird droppings or algae stains. For concrete roof tile, pressure washers can remove this residue without damaging the roof, as long as you only use a low to medium setting on the pressure washer.

If the roof is especially dirty or stained, you can use specially-formulated tile roof cleaner. Apply the cleaner to the roof and use it to loosen the dirt and stains, then spray it off with the pressure washer.

Minor Repairs

Although tiles are durable, they aren’t indestructible. Prevent major issues and make repairs while the damage is still minor.

Tile Replacement

Cracked tiles can lead to more significant issues, which include leaks and rotten roof sheathing. Small holes or cracks may be filled with caulk, which you can find in colors similar to your tiles. More severe damage requires a tile replacement. A roofer will remove the old tile and install a new one, which is held in place with nails, mortar and/or roofing adhesive.

You may want to request that some extra roof tiles be left with you when you have the roof put on so that you have a supply of matching tiles from the same color lot. If this isn’t an option, you will have to make the best color match possible with any tile replacement.

Eave Repairs

Damage to your roof’s eaves can lead to wood rot, water in your attic, and pest invasion. Eaves are typically made from wood or vinyl. Wood eaves should be checked at least annually for peeling or blistering paint. If you notice paint damage, repair it promptly to minimize the chance of dry rot. 

Both wood and vinyl eaves should also be inspected for cracks, holes, or missing soffit vent covers. If you find any damage, schedule a repair promptly before the problem becomes worse.

Underlayment

At some point the underlayment beneath the roof tile will start to fail.  For homes built in subdivisions, the typical underlayment is a single layer of what is known as #30 felt.  Depending on the quality of the felt, the type of tile installed over it, and the quality of installation, it will typically last between 15-18 years.  Other underlayments are available that are more durable, and which will last much longer.

While it is correct that most water will run down the tile and off a roof, there is a certain amount that gets beneath the tile and runs down the underlayment. The underlayment is the actual barrier that prevents water from getting into your home.  A periodic assessment of the condition of the underlayment is prudent, to minimize the risk of damage to your home’s interior, with the subsequent need to effect repairs and repainting.

Roof Renewal Options

The tile on your roof can last decades (and in some cases centuries), so you want to ensure that it retains an attractive appearance.

Sealant Application

Although not commonly applied, tile sealant prevents moisture from seeping into roof tiles through hairline cracks or chips that may occur as the roof ages. In the event of a rare Arizona freeze, the water can expand in the cracks and destroy the tile. Even without a freeze, slow damage will occur as the crack widens over time. 

Sealant also helps renew the roof because it evens out minor color changes that result from weathering or sun fading. A roofer can apply sealant over your roof after a thorough cleaning.

Color Upgrades

Over time, tile colors can fade or tiles become discolored due to stains, like those from algae. You may also grow weary of your roof color, especially if you change the color of your home’s exterior. There are color coatings available that allow you to renew the color of your roof or even change the color completely.

Contact SUNVEK to discuss any of your tile roof maintenance needs.

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