Clay tile roofs are an iconic symbol within the southwest, all the more so in Southern California. The curves of the red clay are so aesthetically pleasing that companies have even made sheets of recycled rubber with a clay-red coating on top of it ! But we’re getting a bit ahead of this tale. Clay roofing has been around for a very long time — at least 2000 years!
Clay roof tiles are made durable by being “fired” in a kiln. The design of a clay roofing tile inherently includes their ability to interlock, and a channel to direct rain towards the gutters. These two important functional aspects are essential to the longevity of your roof. To gain consistency, they are formed in molds, then fired as one might fire pottery, then glazed and fired again. The glaze can have protective properties or simply change the color and seal the tile. In any event, the lifespan of a clay roof tile is generally at least a century, making a clay tile installation the last roof your home will ever need.
There is one catch: The tiles made for the warmer Mediterranean climates found in Southern California cannot withstand the cold harsh winters found further north. There are other tiles made (Grade 1) for places that have ice and snow, and some (Grade 2) designed to withstand some brief freezes. Since the costs increase, and weight may be a factor, you will want to consult with a roofing professional before selecting the right grade for your home.