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Hail Damage to Clay Tile Roofs

Cracked clay tiles allow air and water to pass into your roof, which affects heating and cooling costs.

Clay tile roofs are prized by homeowners for their fire and moisture resistance, long lifespan and low maintenance, as well as unique appearance. However, clay tiles aren’t impervious to damage during harsh weather conditions. Hailstorms can occur in most climates, and these storms can damage individual tiles. This damage is usually minimal and easily repaired by homeowners, but severe damage should be repaired by a professional.

Clay Tile Durability

Tile is a long-lasting roofing material that in ideal conditions can last 75 years or longer. However, clay tiles are brittle, so they’re easily chipped or broken. This type of roof is particularly susceptible to cracking and chipping and can be damaged by walking on the tiles or by impact from falling objects, such as hailstones and tree limbs. Inspect your clay tile roof after strong winds and hail storms so you can quickly repair the damage and prevent more serious problems, such as missing tiles and leaks.

Dealing with Hail Damage

While small hailstones that are less than 2 inches in diameter don’t typically damage clay tiles, those larger than 2 inches in diameter can break off or chip the tile and cause cracks that go all the way through. Typically, the center of clay tile is more resistant than the edges, but hairline cracks might occur anywhere on the tiles if the hail is large enough.

Repairing Chips and Hairline Cracks

If small hailstones have damaged your clay roofing tile, the damage is usually limited to shallow hairline cracks. However, it is possible for small chips to break off the edges and corners of the tile. Both types of damage can usually be repaired without replacing the tiles. Patch cracks and small chips by filling them with roofing mortar. Choose a day when no rain is expected for at least 24 hours to ensure the mortar has time to cure properly.

Knowing When to Replace Tiles

Clay roof tiles that are cracked through to the bottom or that are missing large pieces must be replaced. If the damage is extensive and involves several tiles, this is usually a job for a professional tile roof contractor. However, homeowners can replace individual tiles themselves. Use a flat metal bar to pry the nails holding the tile in place up and out of the roof. To avoid damaging neighboring tiles, you can also gently break the damaged tile into pieces with a hammer. Apply roofing mortar to the empty space and slide a new tile into place. Fasten the new tile to the roof with a flathead, heavy gauge copper wire nail. The nail length should be 1 inch plus twice the thickness of the tile.

About the Author

Renee Miller began writing professionally in 2008, contributing to websites and the "Community Press" newspaper. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers. Miller holds a diploma in social services from Clarke College in Belleville, Ontario.

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Miller, Renee. "Hail Damage to Clay Tile Roofs." Home Guides | SF Gate, Accessed 06 April 2019.

Miller, Renee. (n.d.). Hail Damage to Clay Tile Roofs. Home Guides | SF Gate. Retrieved from

Miller, Renee. "Hail Damage to Clay Tile Roofs" accessed April 06, 2019.

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