If you own a home around Phoenix built in 1992 or newer, then chances are you have a tile roof. Yes, we saw tile roofs on homes even before that, but not nearly as routinely as we do today. Most are not too sure though on how long they last or how to properly maintain them.
First of all, the tiles themselves rarely have an issue. Sure you could see some cracked over time, but it is the felt / underlayment underneath the tiles that creates the real moisture barrier. With our hot summers and almost endless sunshine, that causes the paper underneath to dry out and become brittle. It’s very important to keep that underlayment underneath and not exposed to the elements.
So, how long will it last? Of course there are a number of contributing factors involved, but on average we see a lifespan of 25-30 years. I’ve seen some need replaced 12-years in (usually due to improper installation) and some last for 40+.
The key is conducting occasional sight inspections and making necessary repairs each year or two.
Here are some tips:
- If you see a cracked/broken tile, then it should be repaired or replaced. Usually it’s okay to repair by sealing with some proper exterior silicone caulking.
- If there is a tile slid out of place, then it should be re-secured into place.
- Those concrete “caps” need to be kept in order too… when cracked or broken, they need to be repaired/replaced.
- Keep the valleys clear of debris & vegetation off your roof so water will flow where it is supposed to.
- Ensure flashings stay down and due not lift over time allowing water to go where unintended.
With a tile roof, once there is an issue, it’s important to address quickly before it becomes a real big issue. At the same time, the more you walk around up there and mess with a tile roof, the more likely to cause an issue. There is a proper way to walk on a tile roof so you do not break tiles as well. Ideally, hire a professional roofer or otherwise that knows what they’re doing. If you have clay tiles rather than concrete, this becomes even more imperative.
When it comes time for roof replacement, in many cases, the tiles can be reused. They are removed and then the underlayment is replaced along with any necessary wood. The tiles are then re-installed. Since some will break during this process, new tiles are inserted throughout the roof or in a not so visible area since the dye lots will be different, not to mention sun fade. You could choose to replace the tiles, but that will increase your cost. Although, some move to a flat tile versus an “S” tile shape along with color change.
When buying a home with a tile roof, that is often the most scrutinized part of the home since roof repairs can be more costly than other items. Just know that once you’re over 20-years old on a tile roof, you may be on borrowed time, which is similar to an AC unit after 12-years or so. However, with proper maintenance & care, you can certainly extend the lifespan.