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How To Repair a Spanish Tile Roof

Spanish tile is a beautiful and durable roofing material. It comes in a variety of colors in plastic, ceramic, metal and concrete. Extremely durable, Spanish tile roofs typically carry a 20 to 75 year warranty and they can last 100 years or more. Today, many companies manufacture tile roofing systems that simulate Spanish tile. Repairing a true Spanish tile roof is generally a task for a seasoned professional, one that is especially experienced in working with tile. But with patience and due care, a do-it-yourselfer can repair a leaking Spanish tile roof.

Preparation

  1. When a Spanish tile roof leaks, you need to find the source of the leak. This can be the most daunting task because once water penetrates under the tile it can travel long distances before becoming visible as a leak inside the home.
  2. It helps to know that the weakest components of a Spanish tile roofing system are the fasteners that serve to hold the individual tiles to the roof substrate.
  3. If you can identify a specific tile or series of tiles that are cracked, broken, or moved out of place you might be able to trace the leak to that area of the roof.
  4. Because the tiles are fragile, you need to protect them from damage as you make your way across the roof to the area of the leak.
  5. Place sandbags in the valleys between the tile and use the sandbags as a sort of walkway.
  6. You can also cover the tiles with sheets of plywood or dimensional lumber planks to protect the tiles.
  7. In some cases, you may need to remove tiles until you reach the leak. If you do remove the tiles, be careful to number them or mark them such that you can replace them in the proper order.

Removing the damaged tiles

  1. Most types of Spanish tile are mounted to the roof either with fasteners or by way of lugs or projections that protrude from the bottom of the tile at the upper end. The projections ‘hook’ over the upper edge of horizontal wooden batten strips that traverse the roof.
  2. Determine which type of mounting system your particular tiles use.
  3. If they are attached to the roof or battens with nails or wire, cut the fastener with a long fine tooth hacksaw blade.
  4. If the tiles are ‘hooked’ over the upper edge of the horizontal batten strips, lift the front or lower edge of the upper tile slightly. Then raise the upper end of the tile you want to replace enough for the lugs to clear the batten.
  5. Slide the tile down the roof until it is free.

Installing the new tile

  1. If the tiles simply ‘hook’ over the upper edge of the batten, slide the new tile in position, making sure the lugs ‘hook’ over the batten and lower the upper tile back into its original position.
  2. If the old tile was held in place with fasteners, block the tile above the bad one up as high as you can.
  3. Attach a long length of copper wire to screws where the old fasteners went into the roof.
  4. Feed one end of the copper wire through the fastener hole in the new tile. Do the same for the other fastener hole.
  5. Hold the copper wires above the roof and slide the new tile into position.
  6. Twist the copper wires together above the new tile to hold it in position. Do not twist the wires tightly. The tile needs room to expand and contract.
  7. Lower the upper tile back into position.
  8. Remove the sandbags or plywood and lumber catwalks.
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