If you're lucky enough to have a house with clay tile roofing, you have a roof that can last in excess of 100 years, says the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. The natural clay tiles are fire resistant and require little maintenance. But to keep your roof looking good, there is some annual cleanup you can do. This is likely the only roof you'll have on your house so a little effort for decades of protection is a small price to pay.
Maintenance: A DIY Project or Not?
Clay tiles are harder to work with than asphalt or wood shingled roofs. They become very slippery when wet or if they have algae growing on them. If you don't have the safety tools and experience of working on a roof, this is a job best left to a roofing company. There may be some maintenance that you can do from the ground or from a ladder placed against the house. Any maintenance above the first floor should be done by a licensed roofer.
Cleaning the Tiles
This is the bulk of the maintenance to be done to a clay roof. Dirt, mold and algae can build up on the clay tiles, especially ones that see little sunlight to dry out completely. Mold and algae have small roots that burrow into the clay. As the plants grow, the roots grow deeper and can crack the tile. You can end up with leaks and broken tiles.
The cleaning is best done with a power washer and a chlorine cleaning solution. This washes the tiles and the chlorine prevents mold and algae from coming back. The roofer must be careful with the power washer because the force of the spray can crack the clay tiles.
White Streaks on Clay Tiles
Whenever you replace a broken tile with a new one, you risk seeing white streaks on the tile temporarily. This is called efflorescence and is the result of the lime in the clay reacting with air and rain water. These streaks are temporary and will wash away in the rain in a few weeks. Don't try to wash the streaks from the tile or you might crack the clay.
Sealing the Tiles for More Protection
After cleaning them, you can cover the tiles with a coat of alkyd primer followed by a clear acrylic sealer. This protects the tiles from dirt and will make them easier to wash off during future maintenance.
Are you waiting for your roof to be replaced so that you can change the appearance of your home? If so, you are probably spending some time doing research about the different options in roofing that you have. Do you want to go with standard asphalt shingles, dimensional shingles, metal roofing or something else? What type of roofing will last the longest while looking great? Will one type of roofing increase the value of your home more than another? Read through my site to find the answers to many of the questions that you have about replacing the roof on your home.