Keeping the Rain Where It Belongs: An Homage to Roofs

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Snowbirds: Everything You Need To Know About Spanish Tile Roofs

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Spanish tile roofs are ubiquitous in the Desert Southwest but, to a snowbird, they may as well be a product from Mars. Colder states and Canadian provinces are used to seeing cedar shakes, asphalt shingles, and even standing seam metal roofs. Spanish tiles are an anomaly that most snowbirds do not know much about. 

Is a Spanish tile roof better than an asphalt shingle roof?

The answer is: it depends. Whether one roofing materials is better than another depends on what part of the country you live in. Spanish tiles are not meant to handle the wet, icy winters of the northern states and cannot bear the weight of all that snow. They are, however, perfect for the hot, dry summers of the Desert Southwest. 

What are Spanish tiles made of?

Traditionally, Spanish tiles were made from natural deposits of clay that were pressed into molds and allowed to dry in the sun. Today's tiles are manufactured from a variety of materials, including the traditional clay as well as metal and cement, and kiln-dried in a factory. 

Do Spanish tile roofs leak?

While clay tile roofs do not leak, they are not designed to endure the ice storms of the Midwest either. In fact, the key benefit of Spanish tiles that has been praised for centuries is the fact that they are fireproof, which was as great of a concern in the fire-prone cities of the Industrial Revolution as it is in the drought-prone 21st century.  

How long do tile clay tile roofs last? 

Most snowbirds won't have to worry about replacing their roof any time soon. Spanish clay tiles are expected to last 100 years. The National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior even states that clay tile roofs can last several hundred years

Can I walk on Spanish tile roofing?

Snowbirds may be used to walking on an asphalt shingle roof back home, Spanish tiles are a different story. They can be walked on, but only by those experienced with the product. A person's weight must be distributed just right on the tile in order to avoid breakage or, worse, falling off the roof as a tile crumbles beneath you. 

How do you clean a Spanish tile roof?

Like a shingle roof, tile roofs need annual maintenance. Since it is preferred that you do not walk on your tile roof, have a local company that specializes in tile roofs come out each year for an annual inspection. They can perform any repairs or general maintenance at that time. 

If you are a snowbird and now own a second home with a clay tile roof, know that while it is different, there are people in your area that can help you care for it.