13 Feb 2018

Amanda Green takes a look at why you should consider clay tiles for the roof of your self-build

Amanda Green, Marketing Manager at SIGnature Clay Tiles, discusses why you should consider clay tiles for the roof of your self-build.


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Most self-builds tend to be at the cutting edge of building legislation, interior fixtures and fittings and even technology. After all, you want the best quality that money can buy, right? Even if you’re not building the home of your dreams, and are merely looking to add value for resale, certain elements of the build regardless of cost must never be skimped on, and that includes the roof.

Not only will the roof define the status and value of your home, it’s a functional covering that’s primarily designed to keep out the elements. Being one of most important aspects of your property, in terms of both cost and appearance, it pays to get it right at the outset. Plus, once it’s fitted, it’s not so easy to change.

Unless you are governed by local planning regulations that demand you adhere to a certain style, there are numerous options to consider when choosing a roof covering for your new home. Your choice of materials will also need to take into account the style of the building, whether the tiles can be easily sourced, and of course, your budget will also play a key role in the final decision.

There’s more to consider than first meets the eye when it comes to your roof, and it’s paramount that you spend time exploring the wide range of possible configurations, products and finishes to find out what’s best for your project. In addition to the coverings, a typical roof will include 20 or more products in its build-up, so it’s essential that you select products that you can rely on for true quality and longevity.

It may be that your architect will suggest the roofing material, so if you have a preference in mind, you need to decide in the early stages if you want a specific look or finish. In the UK, we are fortunate enough to have numerous roofing materials to choose from; these include concrete, fibre cement, natural slate and clay tiles. Whilst each boasts its own particular merits, there’s one that stands out from the rest; and that’s clay tiles. Renowned for their versatility, durability and outstanding beauty, they will not only add value to your property; they will help transform your new home from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Clay tiles help bring roofs to life, adding old-world charm to modern and traditional designs. Crafted from select natural clays that are kiln-fired to high temperatures, they exude exceptional character and strength, and exhibit high colour retention and low maintenance. Unlike other materials whose colour can fade over time, they substantially retain their appearance. What’s more, as the colours mellow over the years and take on even more character, they improve with age.

The design possibilities offered by plain clay tiles are endless too. From patchwork designs, conical roofs and eyebrow detailing to curved roofs and cladding, there’s numerous exciting design permutations. Clay tiles are also available in a variety of styles, shapes and colours, together with complementary clay fittings; each exuding a natural warmth, texture and appearance.

When choosing clay tiles, there are three types to consider: handmade, modern machine-made and hand-crafted. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Handmade clay tiles

As these tiles offer a unique finish with subtle imperfections in texture, colour and size, they are particularly suitable when historical authenticity is critical. Each tile is moulded by hand to achieve a camber that gives a characterful, highly-individual look that brings charisma to your home. When choosing handmade clay tiles, you’ll be investing in a high-quality product of unrivalled character.

Modern machine- made clay tiles

Whilst still emulating a traditional look and finish, these tiles are perfectly suited to the more cost-conscious budget. Produced using modern processes, and ensuring British Standards are met in terms of strength, frost resistance and impermeability to water, they fully meet the demands of domestic roofing in terms of aesthetics and performance. Capable of holding their hue and maturing with age, they are also extremely durable.

Hand-crafted clay tiles

These tiles fall somewhere between machine-produced and handmade versions. Although the production process is not as labour-intensive as with handmade versions – the process is usually automated up until just before the tiles are fired when they are then finished by hand to replicate a rustic or smooth-faced, sandfaced texture – they offer a naturally colourfast and durable tile that is a more cost-effective means to emulating the traditional and much-admired look.

Despite clay tiles being more expensive than some roofing options, once whole-life costs including maintenance, repairs and replacement have been taken into consideration, the durability and reliability of clay tiles makes for a winning choice.

Investing in top-quality products, however, only goes part way towards achieving a quality roof, you also need to know that your roofing tile supplier is right for the job. For example, if you’re building in a conservation area where original clay tile roofs still exist on many homes, you may need to enlist the help of a specialist to source a roof tile that matches the area.

It’s imperative that you choose a supplier with solid credentials. One with a strong reputation and who offers a range of tiles to suit both aesthetic and budget requirements, along with a full line-up of fixings, will provide you with complete assurance in both their products and services. As well as helping with tile samples, and advising on design and build plans, a reputable supplier will also be there to hold your hand throughout the project. Also, those whose products have undergone strict industry testing, and who can guarantee supplies exactly when you need them – regardless of where you are in the UK – will be worth their weight in gold.

Don't forget about the warranties

As part of your clay tile selection, it’s also important to consider and select products with comprehensive and robust warranties. After all, a reliable warranty will instil trust with the manufacturer, in addition to giving you the confidence that the product is of a high quality. Some specialists provide robust warranties for up to 30 years that will bring peace of mind for both you and your builder.

The simplicity of a single-package warranty appeals to many self-builders. Instead of several warranties, there is one warranty that covers all key products in the build-up of a roof for up to 15 years. In the unfortunate event of a claim, this type of warranty will help save valuable time and frustration.

Self-builds are perceived as quality homes, so investing in a quality roof makes sense, not only for its aesthetic appeal but to ensure that it’s fit for purpose and will stand the test of time. Knowing that your roof is graced with high-quality clay tiles will undoubtedly give you peace of mind that you have truly invested in the best.

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