Part of building or renovating a home is creating something aesthetically appealing as well as structurally sound. It’s important to strike the right balance, creating a property that you feel safe in, but are also proud of. Vintage housing is back in fashion, which means old-style roof tiles are a consideration for many homeowners, but are they better than new tiles? Are they still effective at all?
Keep reading to learn more about the changes made to roof tiles over the years and whether you can use old-style roof tiles for your home.
How Have Roof Tiles in Australia Changed?
In Australia, traditional homes are Victorian-style, with a triangular roof shape that allows for an attic. These homes have great curb appeal, but the shape is also functional because the roof’s slope allows for improved water and debris run-off.
Many modern houses have moved away from this design to use flat roofs, sometimes with tiling but sometimes with metal colorbond. This minimalist, streamlined look is very popular in the modern era, with more and more homes constructed this way.
However, there has been a recent revival for traditional homes, which means a return to roof tiles. For many homeowners, the aesthetic appeal of vintage roof tiles is very tempting. Many Australian homes feature traditional roof tiles with a deep red colour coating, reminiscent of the country’s rich soil. Nowadays, modern tiles may opt for lighter, more neutral tones, which improve home insulation alongside looking nice.
Aesthetics are not the only thing that has changed. The material of roof tiles has also shifted, moving from clay, asphalt, or concrete to slate. Each material has its pros and cons, with most being weather and fire-resistant. The main difference is durability. Old tiles were handmade and of higher quality, but the new slate or concrete style is naturally durable due to the material.
Can You Use Reclaimed Roof Tiles?
If you are considering using old-style roof tiles, there are two options. It’s sometimes possible to find modern roof tiles that resemble those from decades gone by, but another option is to use genuine vintage roof tiles.
There are pros and cons to using old tiles, so make sure you’re familiar with the risks before you start renovating your house.
Pro: Old Style Roof Tiles Could Be More Durable
Many old-style roof tiles are exceptionally durable. The tiles you find on a Victorian-style roof from a house constructed in the 50s may be made from concrete, such as Monier 100. These tiles rarely break, even if they have not been repainted.
Nowadays, even modern concrete roof tiles are not quite as durable because they may contain a higher ratio of sand to cement. They are mass-produced more cheaply and, as a result, more prone to breakages. Modern roof tiles require a colour coat and a protective membrane, and there may be significant repairs necessary every few years.
Cons: Old Style Roof Tiles Are Hard to Find
Tile matching with old-style roof tiles is tricky. A reclaim yard might not have enough of a particular roof tile to complete a whole roof, leading to mismatched colours or even materials that can ruin the polished look of a home.
Even if you do find all the materials you need, this hodgepodge of tiles could pose a problem for future roof extensions or any repairs.
Pro: Old Style Roof Tiles Have Aesthetic Appeal
Perhaps the most significant advantage of old-style roof tiles is their aesthetic appeal. There is a reason for the revival of vintage-style roof tiles, and it’s mostly because they make homes look great!
Con: Old Style Roof Tiles Are… Well, Old
Often, it’s hard to date old roof tiles, so it’s difficult to say how long they will last. Even a roofing specialist may have trouble discerning the lifespan.
Tiles all degrade over time, including the older, high-quality ones. Older-style roof tiles will inevitably start to break down; even with professional coatings, the tiles will become more porous and may chip or break, leading to costly repairs.
You might even find that porous older tiles don’t hold up under a pressure clean, making it hard to care for your roof.
Pro: Old Style Roof Tiles Can Be Eco-Friendly
Reduce, reuse, recycle, as the saying goes. Fans of an eco-friendly lifestyle might want to use old vintage tiles to save them from being thrown away. However, it’s worth considering that reclaimed tiles were removed from another roof for a reason, so there may be issues you don’t see.
Con: Old Style Roof Tiles Might Not Fit Your House
Often, older-style tiles are dimensionally inaccurate. Because they were handmade, each tile was different, and the builder would ‘finish off’ the tiles on each roof by trimming the corners to fit. As a result, reclaimed tiles are not always guaranteed to fit your home, and there may be gaps.
Usually, it’s better to go with new tiles, which are also a more affordable solution if you plan to renovate your home. While it’s possible to find old-style roof tiles for reasonable prices, there are many risks associated with using them to finish your home.
Older tiles can lead to problems later down the line, including if you need tile extensions, repairs (such as if you need to re-point or re-bed any tiles), or maintenance, such as a high-pressure clean. It’s difficult to find tiles with matching profiles, which ruins the aesthetic appeal of using vintage tiles in the first place.
If you are thinking of getting a full restoration on your roof, contact Evo for expert information on all things roofing.
The top questions on old roof tiles.
1. What Kind of Roof Tiles Were Used in the 70s?
In the 1970s, Australian homes typically used concrete roof tiles. These were traditionally handmade but started to be mass-produced following WWII, boosting their popularity. Clay terracotta tiles were also standard before metal colorbond became popularised in recent years.
2. What Are Old Roof Tiles Made of?
Old roof tiles come in many forms. Some of the most popular materials were concrete or clay, which was formed by pressing the material around a curved surface. Although this was usually a log, it was sometimes the maker’s thigh.
3. How Do I Know What Kind of Roof Tiles I Have?
You can usually tell what kind of tile you have by colour. If it is concrete/grey on the underside, then it is likely concrete, whereas tan-red terracotta tiles are probably clay. Usually, there will be an identifier stamped into the tile, so look for any fine details marked on the tile that could identify the manufacturer; you can then look it up to find the specific type of tile you have.