Clay is a popular roofing material in warm climates such as California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Florida. It provides effective thermal insulation and blocks the transmission of heat that is absorbed by the roof into the living space. Unlike other roofing materials, it is not easily damaged by exposure to UV rays so it is ideal for tropical locations. Despite these benefits, clay is a very brittle material and can be easily damaged. The following are tips on how to care for this type of material as well as how to perform any repairs should any damage occur.
Clay in itself is a very brittle type of roofing material; any type of small pressure can result in the material cracking. The same thing happens when the temperature suddenly drops, as the sudden change causes the material to drastically contract. This type of material normally becomes brittle as it ages, however, breakage can occur prematurely. For example, breakage can occur if the structure is hit by falling branches during heavy winds or if improper roofing maintenance is done. When this happens, it is important to replace the broken portions immediately to prevent any further damage to the underlying structures.
Inspect the area closely for broken tiles. Once a defect is spotted, determine whether to replace the entire tile or to repair the defect with mortar. If the crack is small, then mortar is a good way to fix it. To form mortar, simply mix together one part cement with three parts sand, and then slowly add water to the mixture until it is a spreading consistency. Wet the tile that needs to be worked on so the mortar will set properly. Fill the gap with the mortar and let it dry.
If the tile is too damaged to repair, then replacing it is the best option. It is important to keep in mind that clay tiles are usually interlocked; when replacing one, it will probably be necessary to move the surrounding ones. Loosen the nail of the tile to be replaced as well as the ones around it. Breaking the damaged one into smaller pieces to remove can also be effective. Get rid of all the debris and slip a new one into place. Carefully hammer a new copper nail in place to secure the tile.
Bear in mind that walking on clay tiles can cause further damage, so always take every step with caution. To lessen the pressure on the individual pieces, and to reduce the risk of breakage, distribute weight more evenly on a wider area by laying a plank or sheet of plywood beside the area on which work will be done. Clay tiles can be very slippery when wet so if possible, schedule repairs when the roof is dry. To prevent additional damage, eliminate any overhead objects that could fall on the roof such as branches or fruit from trees.
A clay roof is recognized for its classical look as well as its insulation feature and is well suited for tropical applications; however, it is very poor in terms of durability. Keep all of this information in mind and use it as a guide on how to repair and replace clay tiles!
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