How To Choose A Clay Tile Roof For Your Home

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tile-roof.JPG If you’ve decided that your house style is best suited to a ceramic tile roof, you need only decide on the color and roof tile vendor for your home and you’re done… right? Wrong! Because not all clay roof tiles are created equal.

You have much to learn, Grasshopper!

A clay tile roof is pretty special. Ceramic tiles for roofs have been around for thousands of years, and for good reason. They’re durable, attractive and the materials to make them are found in many parts of the world. Notice I didn’t mention that they were cheap. They may have been inexpensive at one time but not in this day and age.

A clay tile roof is more cost-effective, though, with many brands of roof tiles with either lifetime or multi-decade warranties. Archaeologists are still uncovering ceramic roof tiles among ancient Roman ruins. That’s how durable they are. The same can be said for slate roof tiles, as well. Lifetime warranties are standard with slate.



I heard of a brand of roof tile mentioned on HGTV’s ‘My Big Amazing Renovation’ where they were featuring an ambitious Spanish style project.

The clay roof tiles were made by Ludowici Roof Tile in New Lexington, Ohio and they’ve been in continuous production since 1888.

So how do you go about choosing the right clay tile for your roof? Let’s start with the basics.

Choose The Tile Roof Profile

There are quite a few choices to be made here depending on the maker and their molds. I’ll use Ludowici’s choices for the sake of discussion. Some examples of different roof tile profiles are:

  • Barrel or S-shaped tile
  • Flat Shingle
  • Interlocking

Choose a length, architectural style & color within these 3 basic types.

Choose The Color of the Tile

There are hundreds of choices when it comes to color and blends of colors. Choices range from a classic Earthen red-orange to a vivid green tile roof. The choice is yours. Work with your architect for the most suitable choices for your style of home.

Choose The Texture or Surface Treatment of Your Tile

There are many textures to choose from. Choose a slightly warped tile called barrel tile or go with a flat tile. Here are some of the textures to choose from:

  • Battered Butts
  • Brushed Butts
  • Scored- There are different types of scoring, too.
  • Weathered
  • Smooth
  • Hand Slushed

Are You Working On A Historical Renovation?

Ludowici Roof Tile specializes in historical renovations and can match any color and style that you bring to them.

Read about the historical renovation of Union Station in Springfield, IL that won a National Preservation Honor Award. Union Station originally had a Ludowici-tiled roof when it was first built. Ludowici Roof Tile was able to match the exact color and style of the original 1896 tile roof.

Choose the Specifications or Grade of Tile

The standard grade of clay tile roof material is spelled out in ASTM C1167 – 03(2009). There are three grades of tile based on the moisture content of the tile itself. The less moisture in the tile, the higher grade of tile it is because less moisture means less chance of mold and also less chance of breakage due to freeze and salt intrusion. Grade 1 is best for colder climates and is rated for 50 freeze / thaw cycles. Grade 1 is the most durable of the three grades.

  • ASTM Grade 1 – 1% moisture content – Best
  • ASTM Grade 2 – 3% moisture content – Better
  • ASTM Grade 3 – 6% moisture content – Good

Read more about ASTM C1167 Standards for Clay Tile Roofs for a better understanding to suit your needs. Super easy to understand ASTM standards for clay roof tile on the Ludowici site.
Clay roof tile is an natural, earthen product and has many green product attributes:

  • 100% Recyclable
  • Longevity
  • You can earn LEED points or credits. Ask the manufacturer about their specs to earn LEED points.
  • Thermal mass & shape means that it will hold warmth longer and stay cooler longer for energy savings.

Finding A Quality Clay Roof Tile

Find a quality manufacturer that is a veteran in the clay tile roof business and you really can’t go wrong. Don’t forget to look into salvaged tile while you’re at it.

Read about this beautiful reclaimed antique clay tile roof installed on an English Cottage style home. It’s a work of art!