Tile Roof Maintenance: What You Should Know

Tile Roof Maintenance: What You Should Know

Choosing a tile roof for your home is not just an investment in an aesthetically pleasing aspect of your property. It also tends to be one of the longest lasting approaches to roofing. With the right materials and installation, it is not unheard of for a tile roof to survive upwards of 50-70 years. That said, there are some elements that contribute to this longevity. 

Chief among these is a strict commitment to tile roof maintenance. Like most parts of life, if you want to get the most out of your roof you need to make sure you’re taking good care of it. However, if you don’t have previous experience of living with a tiled roof, it’s not always clear how best to go about this.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can best go about maintaining your tiled roof. 

Some Precautions

Before you hop up onto the roof and start maintaining your tiled roof, you need to take a few precautions. Your first is really to consider whether you are up to the task. Yes, there are certainly some elements of tile roof maintenance that don’t require expert handling, and it’s understandable you want to minimize household costs. However, if you aren’t comfortable going up ladders and walking around on a roof, or you feel out of your depth, take the time to consult a roofing contractor. 

Other precautions you need to take include:  

  • Clothing

Yes, the clothing you wear when you’re maintaining your roof matters. This isn’t just from the perspective of the potential to get dirty, either. You should be avoiding any excessively loose clothing that could snag on elements of your roof, while you’re moving around up there. Most importantly, make sure you have footwear with rubber soles and sufficient grip. 

  • Ladder

Most people have access to a self-supporting or A-frame step ladder for household chores. However, this isn’t usually a sufficient or safe option for climbing onto your roof. In most cases you’ll need an extension ladder that leans against your home and can hook onto the edge of your roof. If your ladder has to lean steeper than 75 degrees, you’ll need something that can extend further. 

  • Walking

One of the common issues about tile roof maintenance is the potential to cause additional damage by walking on the tiles. The key is distributing your weight evenly over a wide area, and being careful not to tread on the edges of the tiles. Roofing experts will often lay down foam-backed wooden walkways.

Periodic Inspections

Your most basic form of tile roof maintenance is just taking time to perform an inspection. A complete, thorough inspection really only needs to be performed once a year. In some cases, it’s worth getting a roofing expert to perform this, as they’ll already be familiar with the signs of potential issues. However, if you’re going it alone you need to at least look for the following: 

  • Signs of Leakage

For your roof to be effective, the tiles need to be watertight. As such, you need to go around your roof, looking for any signs of seepage. Internally, you can do this by heading up into your loft and examining the underlayment. Keep an eye out for any water stains, and be aware of musty smells. If there are water stains, look for the highest and smallest of these, this will give you the vague whereabouts of the leak, so you can head onto the roof and inspect it. 

  • Cracked Tiles

You’ll generally find tiles are quite robust roof material. However, they can be subject to cracks and breaks if they’ve been subjected to falling objects or extreme weather. When tiles crack, they are no longer suitable for keeping out water, and even the smallest can get worse overtime through moisture freezing during the winter and expanding inside the crack. Take time to look at each time on your roof for any such problems. 

  • Algae and Mold

One of the primary issues with roof tiles is that they can be affected by organic materials. Algae and mold can form on the surface of the tiles, which isn’t much of an issue in and of itself, aside from not always being aesthetically pleasing. That said, it can also get underneath the tiles and spread to the underlayment or the wooden structure, which may cause problems down the line. Look for the obvious signs of green patches on your roof, and even plants sprouting from between the tiles. 

These are the most basic elements to look out for during an inspection. But if you come across aspects you’re unsure of, it’s always worth the time to seek expert advice. 


One of the most important and personally achievable elements of tile roof maintenance is regular cleaning. However, rest assured this isn’t something you need to be getting up onto your roof every month to perform. When we mention regular cleaning, we mean committing to a full and thorough wash once every 2 years.   

With a tile roof it’s important to be cognizant of the fact that while this material is relatively sturdy, it can be vulnerable to significant impact. You should therefore avoid using a high-pressure washer when cleaning your roof or you could find your roof in need of repairs. A pressure washer on a low setting (no more than 60psi) is fine, as is a gentle spray with a hose. Make sure you are spraying from the top of the roof downwards, towards the gutters

Pay particular attention to removing any debris, as well as organic elements like algae, moss, and insect habitats. These are not only unsightly but they can also disrupt the flow of rainwater toward your gutters, increasing the possibility of leaks down the line. A chemical roof cleaning product can be effective here, but make sure it is thoroughly rinsed from the surface of the roof after use.   

Repairs and Replacements

Finally, it’s important to consider whether you should attempt to undertake any roofing repairs or replacements yourself. If you’ve noticed your roof is sagging or anything in need of extensive roof replacement, you’ll find it is a better investment of time and resources to consult with a contractor. However, if you’re a confident DIY enthusiast you may be able to do some minor repairs. 

Replacing a tile here and there is relatively simple. The challenge here is mostly making certain you remain safe at all times, and are careful not to dislodge or disturb any of the surrounding tiles as you replace the new one. Small repairs to flashing — the metal components that direct rainwater away from roof joins, chimneys, and valleys — can also be performed by an experienced DIYer. Small holes can be patched with a piece of flashing material and roofing cement, and some areas that have pulled away from the surface can be nailed back into place. However, if there is serious deterioration, or indeed anything you’re unsure of, you should consult a professional.

Wrapping Up

A commitment to regular tile roof maintenance is a must if you want to get the most life out of this essential element of your home. Periodic inspections can help you spot and minimize problems early on, while thorough cleaning keeps it functional and looking great. There are even some minor repairs and replacements you can perform if you have some DIY confidence and knowhow. However, it is vital you take safe precautions before attempting any interaction with your roof. Indeed, if you have any reservations whatsoever it can be wise to consult with a roofing expert who can either perform the tasks for you or provide guidance.

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