Maintaining a Tile Roof in a Wintery Climate

Published On: September 6, 20220 Comments on Maintaining a Tile Roof in a Wintery ClimateTags: , Last Updated: January 30, 20244.8 min read

Why have a tile roof?

Tile roofs have a rich history of being reliable for homeowners. When you install a tile roof, you’re investing in a long-term solution to your roofing since tile can last for decades without the need for replacement. In contrast, shingle roofing can last at best 25 years and at worst hardly more than 12. If darker shingles are used, shingle roofing is more likely to bleach in bright sunlight than tile, and it is susceptible to wind and water damage to a greater extent than tile.

roof in winter

Additionally, shingle roofing is far more common than tile, so having a tile roof makes your home stand out in the event that you would like to sell. Tile roofs are a statement and a surety for your home, but they are not impervious to damage. So, even though a tile roof has its benefits, it’s important to understand the risks.

Types of tile roofs?

Both the benefits and the risks depend on what material your tile roof is made out of. Concrete and clay are the two most common types of tile roofs, with clay being the style that harkens back most to tile roofs as an old roofing material. Clay roofs are primarily made out of Terracotta clay, but they can come in almost any color, and the process focuses more on whether or not the clay has been baked for a certain amount of time than on what color it is. Concrete tiles can emulate clay tiles and create their emulations as flat, slightly wavy, or pronounced curves for your roof. These options can be highly personalized, but they come with their downsides.

Since concrete tiles have a higher water absorption rate than clay, they are more prone to mold or mildew growing. This mold growth can cause discoloration and even lead to a mold problem in your home. Concrete tiles are also much heavier than clay, so they are not well suited for a proof that might not be structurally able to handle a heavy load.

tile roof with snow

Although concrete tiles might be more susceptible to mold, they are not more susceptible to other damage. However, clay tiles are more susceptible to dramatic temperature changes, cracking, and shattering when forced to rapidly expand or contract in volatile climates. Typically, clay tiles are primarily used in warmer climates, which has led to their nickname as Spanish roofing tiles since they are used commonly in Spain. They can also be found commonly in states like Texas, where the warm summers far outweigh the potential danger of having a cold winter. For colder climates, concrete tiles promise a more reliable choice.

Unfortunately, that reliability does come with a cost. Since concrete tiles are so much heavier than clay, they are more difficult to maintain. Maintaining concrete tiles, especially if you have a mold or mildew problem, takes a lot of manpower and can quickly get very expensive. And clay tiles are much more likely to keep their coloration for a lifetime. As a naturally occurring substance, clay retains the color that it was when it was harvested. If the clay has a finish on it, ceramic glazes have advanced to the point that those colors will stay constant. There will be no send image or bleaching like shingle roofs are prone to do. But concrete tiles also risk discoloration. The sun does not present a problem, but concrete tiles can have indoor staining from mold and mildew that leaves them permanently scarred. Concrete finishes have not yet reached the point of lasting as long as ceramic glazes. There’s no real way to protect ceramic tiles from discoloration with the same success rate that clay tiles are projected. Clay tiles last much longer than concrete tiles, but both outlast other roofing options.

To maintain your tile roof in a wintry climate, you must install snow guard brackets on the roof. While concrete and clay are strong, they’re not invincible. Concrete’s tendency to mildew and clay’s tendency to shatter mean that having a pile of frozen water stuck on your roof for four weeks will not do you any favors. Additionally, with concrete’s extra weight, adding compacted snow drifts can weigh a lot and strain your roof structure. Snow pressure could lead to complications underneath the tiles themselves. Snow guard brackets are an easy way to fix this problem. With snow guard brackets, you effectively break the snow into manageable sections so that it melts quickly without sliding off your roof and causing damage to people below or staying in your way for weeks and causing damage to your child.

Snow guard brackets are simple hardware that you attach to your roof with clamps in a pattern determined by the manufacturer or an engineer. While remaining innocuous on your roof, snow guard brackets act as barriers between snowfall so that when you get that first heavy winter storm, there are dividers on your roof to separate and weaken the snowdrifts. When the sun starts regularly rising again, the snow on your roof will be susceptible to melting quickly instead of staying far past its welcome on your tile roof. Make sure to install snow guard brackets using an installation guide provided by the manufacturer since the last thing you want to do is damage your own roof trying to protect it, but they’re a pretty easy piece of hardware to install. Especially if you want to protect your roof from snowfall in a colder area, snow guard brackets will be a great tool that will help protect your roof.

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