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Todd Talbot
Tama Talbot Ortiz


Tile Roofs... How long do they really last?

There seems to be two common misconceptions regarding tile roofing.  The first being, that tile roofs last forever or for at least 100 years.  The second is that the tiles are the actual and only material protecting the roof. 

Neither of these statements is true.

Concrete, clay and sandcast tiles are a significant part of a roofs covering but only to the extent that they protect the underlayment material that lies below the tiles on the roof.  The underlayment is the actual water seal for the roof.   It is okay for water to penetrate the tiles on your roof.  The tile’s job is to protect that seal from most of the sun’s rays and excessive water exposure so that the underlayment doesn’t deteriorate as quickly.  More homes have tile roofs in the Southwest Desert than anywhere else because the tiles protect the underlayment from the intensity of the sun.  

There are basically two types of tile roofs:

  • Tile roof that have a felt underlayment and
  • Tile roofs that have roll roofing underlayment

The vast majority of tile roofs in the Valley are concrete tile with felt underlayment.  These roofs, contrary to popular opinion, have 25-40 year life spans.  The gap in the range of life spans is due mostly to the quality of the felt underlayment material and upkeep.  Making sure cracked and missing tiles are fixed and or replaced is important to the longevity of the underlayment.  Concrete tile with felt underpayment roofs are typically found in most “tract” subdivision type homes.

Clay and sand cast tile roof homes are often accompanied with a roll roof underlayment.  Roll roofing is a considerably more durable construction material than felt.  However, it can be more than twice the cost of felt roofing.  Clay or sand cast tile coverings, are the type of roof coverings that will last 75-100 years, when accompanied with the proper roll roof underlayment.  Clay and sand cast tile roofs are commonly found on custom and higher price range homes.        

A large chunk of the Valley’s homes were built in the 1990’s. Those homes are getting to be 25+ years old. 

What type of roof do you what on the home you are looking for?  If the answer is tile, know the age of the roof and its underlayment. 


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