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Frequently Asked Questions


1. Is there a Roof Tile Excellence Award for 2016?

In assessing the quality, diversity and number of projects entered into the Roof Tile Excellence Award of the 2016 Think Brick Awards, the jury decided to consider these entries for the Robin Dods Terracotta Roof Award. This reflects the significant overlap of the entries across the two Roof Tile categories. This year excellence in the use of roof tiles by Australian architects is celebrated through the five finalists for the Robin Dods award. The winning project is the Elias House by Melbourne-based Harmer Architecture, an urban courtyard home that speaks of the traditions and possibilities of both clay and terracotta roof tiles.

2. I have a technical question. How can I get some help?

The most efficient way to have your question answered is by emailing us at info@rtaa.com.au or you can call us on (02) 8448 5500 and speak to one of our technical team.

3. What is the difference between concrete and terracotta tiles?

Made to Australian Standards, concrete and terracotta and tiles are manufactured to withstand harsh climatic conditions and marine environments. All roof tiles manufactured to AS2049 are salt-safe and frost resistant, making them suitable for any location.

Concrete tiles are one of Australia’s most popular roofing materials. They offer value for money and a wide choice of colours.

Terracotta tiles have been used for thousands of years and offer natural durability in both colour and quality. Terracotta tiles have a colour fast finish which means that the colour won’t change over the life of the tile. Natural terracotta tiles come in a range of colours that are truly unique, with burn marks and subtle colour variation resulting from the natural colours of the clay from which they are made.

4. Are roof tiles more durable than other roofing options?

Tiles outlast most other roofing options. Due to the very durable nature of terracotta and concrete roof tiles and advancements in manufacturing and installation methods, a modern roof tile roof should have an effective life of at least 50 years. Some metal roofing products are only covered by warranty for 30 years.

5. What is the best roofing material to endure storms?

Terracotta and concrete roof tiles offer more resistance to wind suction than lighter weight materials such as metal sheeting. If damage is sustained during a storm, you only need to replace the individual damaged tiles. When a metal roof is damaged, entire sheets need to be replaced, which makes for a more costly repair bill.

6. Which roofing material is better at blocking out noise?

The density of tiles helps reduce external sound, such as aircraft and road noise and particularly rain and hail. A tiled roof has a significantly higher sound reduction potential than steel sheeting. Also, tiled roofs won’t creak and groan in reaction to changing temperatures.

7. Do roof tiles offer thermal insulation?

Yes. Concrete and terracotta are poor conductors of heat and cold. As a result roof tiles provide improved insulation when compared to some other roofing materials.

8. Will the colour of my tile give me any advantages or disadvantages (light or dark)?

Dark colours are believed to attract greater heat but the difference in heat to a light coloured roof is thought to be minimal.  Light coloured roofs have been thought to reflect more heat away from the home based on rating systems such as BASIX. However there is no reason a dark roof cannot perform similarly with simple inclusions such as sarking, insulation, and ventilation.

9. Is a dark roof any hotter in warmer months?

This will depend on the finish applied to the roof and paint used.  In many cases research does suggest that a dark roof could attract heat, however, this has not been conclusively proven and other factors such as house orientation, use of ventilation/insulation and use of passive design principles will have greater bearing on whether the house is hotter in the warmer months.

10. What ongoing maintenance requirements do roof tiles have?

With the development of Flexible Pointing and the purpose made barge tile which seals the gable ends of roofs, roof maintenance has been reduced to a minimum. We recommend a periodic check of the roof for broken tiles or flashing deterioration. Many companies offer roof inspection and restoration services, and are qualified to report on your roof and advise what work should be done.

11. How do we clean our roof tiles?

RTAA recommends that you don’t attempt to clean your own roof tiles due to potential dangers of working at heights.  A professional roof cleaner will however be able to clean the roof with either a gurney or high pressure cleaner and suitable cleaning solution. 

12. What is lichen?

Lichen or moss can start to grow on tiles after long periods but does not in any way indicate deterioration or affect the performance of tiles. It can be easily removed with a high pressure cleaner by a professional cleaning contractor.

13. Can you respray tiled roofs?

Depending on the material and method used it is completely acceptable to spray concrete roof tiles. However never spray terracotta as it would interfere with the natural quality of the clay and over time will peel away from the glazed surface.

14. How expensive is it to re-roof?

Bring your plans to one of our members and they can provide an accurate cost estimate. There may be surprisingly little difference between the cost of respraying and installing new roof tiles.

15. I live near the coast. What is the best roofing solution for coastal conditions?

Concrete or terracotta roof tiles are ideal for coastal regions as most products are suitable for marine environments and their high salt content. In the absence of rain, metal roofing requires frequent hosing down in high salt concentration areas, which can pose difficulties with water restrictions.

16. Do we need a different frame for terracotta or concrete?

The spacing of trusses (the planks of wood the tiles sit on) will need to change based on the tile being installed.  Concrete tiles are a standard size so the set out will be the same however many terracotta tiles come in varied sizes and therefore require unique truss set outs to accommodate and support the tiles they hold.

17. Is there any particular bond/pattern of laying for tiles?

The bond or laying method refers to the means by which tiles are laid out and fitted together to create a water proof barrier.  A straight bond is when the tiles are laid out one on top of each other with the sides of the tile above aligning with the one below.  Cross bonding occurs when the tile below sits halfway in between the two tiles above.

18. Why is concrete not as colour-fast as terracotta?

Concrete tiles are not glazed so like all exterior building materials they are subject to UV radiation and atmospheric pollutants. The most notable change will be the dissolving of the sealer.  This is designed to occur and results in a matte rather than gloss finish on the tile. 

Terracotta tiles are kiln-fired with a vitreous coating that makes these tiles resistant to harsh UV exposure and pollutants.

19. What is the fading period of a concrete tile?

The sealer (gloss finish) will generally weather within 12 – 24 months of the roof tile being installed.  However the colour itself is an oxide which is an integral part of the tiles surface when it is manufactured so that most roof tiles can maintain a consistent colour for many years with the colour gradually becoming more subdued over this period.

20. What are the white streaks apparent on some roofs?

Sometimes the natural mineral salts in concrete can migrate to the surface in the form of a whitish grey discolouration called efflorescence. This is not harmful, has no impact on the performance of the tile and will weather away over time.

21. What is a shingle?

A shingle is a flat roof tile with a smooth finish. In the market ‘shingle’ can refer to flat roof tiles or small slate tiles.

22. What is a shake?

A shake is a flat tile which has striations or lines running from the top to the bottom of the tile.

23. What is flexible pointing?

Flexible pointing is a flexible and extremely durable coating that is applied to the bedding used to fix ridge fittings to the roof. It does not crack with the natural expansion and contraction of the roof because it is flexible properties. This pointing system significantly reduces the need for pointing maintenance. It is available in a wide range of colours that allow it to be matched to all standard tile colours.

24. What is roof sarking?

Sarking is an impermeable reflective foil membrane that is laid under tiles and acts as a secondary barrier to water run off while reducing the amount of heat transferred in and out of the house by acting as a reflective barrier.  Sarking reflects as much as 95% of radiant heat away from the home, ensuring more comfortable living conditions.  The cost will vary based on the builder used and level of sarking product chosen.  

25. I have a problem with my roof tiles. Who should I contact?

In the first instance you should contact the installer/supplier of the roof tiles to report the issue. For ongoing matters of complaint, contact the relevant Fair Trading Office in your state.

26. How do I get a job as a roof tiler?

Roof tilers undergo an apprenticeship to become fully qualified in their trade, which generally lasts 3 to 4 years, depending on state requirements. To find out more about apprenticeships, visit www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au