Roof tiles, particularly terracotta roof tiles, are a popular choice throughout Australia due to their visual appeal. However, all roofs are exposed to the elements, meaning they can become discoloured, covered in moss, or even broken and damaged. You need to clean terracotta roof tiles every so often to protect them, preventing damage and boosting their curb appeal.
Fortunately, concrete and terracotta roof tiles are generally quite durable and fire-resistant, adding to their popularity. However, a frequent roof cleaning process is necessary if you want to extend the longevity of your roof and keep it looking tip-top for years to come.
Whether you have clay tiles or concrete, this is the ultimate guide to the cleaning process.
Do You Need to Clean Roof Tiles?
Generally, tile roofs take care of themselves. However, if you want to boost curb appeal and eliminate moss growth, mould, and algae, then you should probably clean your terracotta roof surface once a year. That said, you can clean it more frequently if your roof is particularly susceptible to moss and mould growth.
Cleaning concrete, on the other hand, is even less necessary. You can typically get away with cleaning concrete tiles only once every 2-3 years.
As a rule of thumb, if you can see growth and marks on your roof, it’s time for a wash.
Cleaning Terracotta Roof Tiles
Terracotta roof tiles are pretty easy to clean. Most people simply use a pressure washing machine for cleaning terracotta roofs, which means not a lot of elbow grease is required. However, some people employ chemicals and solvents to get rid of stubborn stains.
Both methods of cleaning require caution. For example, a pressure wash is effective, but using the highest pressure could break brittle terracotta roof tiles. Meanwhile, powerful solvents could lead to corrosion and discolouration.
Cleaning Concrete Tiles
Concrete requires little maintenance, which means it’s even easier to take care of your house roof. There are several ways to clean the roof surfaces, including cold water blasting, hot water pressure cleaning, and manual roof scraping to remove other debris.
Each has its pros and cons. Scraping avoids potential water damage, but it won’t necessarily restore your roof to a pristine condition. Plus, if you catch a roof tile with a hairline fracture at the wrong angle, it could lead to further breaks and cracks. Meanwhile, pressure washing is effective but could lead to broken tiles if done improperly.
Preparing to Clean Roof Tiles
When tile roof cleaning, the first step is to set up safely before you start cleaning. Here is what you need to do to set up for a roof clean.
Firstly, install a safety guard rail around the roof line to prevent a bad fall. The roof will become slippery during cleaning, which makes safety paramount, especially if you do not have experience working on a roof or at heights.
Prepare your ladder safely, positioning it carefully in front of your property. Do not place it under the eaves or gutter. Lock the ladder into place with sandbags or wedges for added stability.
Make sure you are wearing shoes that are equipped with grip. Whether you are pressure washing or chemical cleaning, make sure you use the correct protective equipment, such as safety glasses, rubber gloves, and potentially a safety rope.
Prepping the Roof
During the cleaning process, water and dirt will flow off the roof, so make sure you move any furniture on the ground that you don’t want in the way. If you have skylights, this also applies to the inside of the property.
Also, take a look at neighbouring properties. If there’s a chance that dirt will wash onto the surrounding properties, prepare with a tarp and be prepared to clean up any mess afterwards.
How Do You Clean Roof Tiles
As mentioned above, there are a couple of ways to clean tile roofs. Here are the things you need to know about each method.
Pressure Washing Roof Tiles
Pressure cleaning is a popular option for cleaning terracotta roofs. You will need a pressure washing machine, but fortunately, they are quite cheap to rent. It’s essential to avoid high pressure when roof cleaning so you don’t break the tiles, and if you have tiles with lead-based materials, avoid pressure washing.
Get a pressure washer with 1500 PSI, set it to medium pressure, and wash the roof by holding the nozzle thirty centimetres away from the tiles. Start from the bottom and work your way up, as excess water coming down from the roof can lead to eroded foundations; it’s best to move drainage pipes away before beginning.
Typically, pressure washing can thoroughly clean a terracotta roof and get to all the places moss grows, though you may need to switch to high pressure for tough stains. Be careful if your tiles are brittle. It’s a great method to remove moss, algae, and debris easily.
After cleaning, you can use a mould inhibitor to prevent it growing back.
Chemicals and Solvents
There are several roof cleaners you can use, either in a pressure washing machine or when scrubbing. Most of the popular solutions feature bleach or sodium percarbonate, available at most DIY stores. You can also create a DIY mixture of bleach and water.
Popular products include:
- Muriatic acid
- Hydrochloric acid
- Sodium hydroxide (lye)
- Trisodium phosphate (TSP)
TSP comes in powder form, making it one of the most popular options. Many homeowners choose to use a 50/50 bleach and water solution, which removes touch stains without scrubbing. However, if it doesn’t work, adding a little TSP powder to the solution can do the trick.
For black marks caused by mineral deposits, you can mix baking soda and vinegar together. Simply sprinkle the powder on the marked areas, pour over the vinegar, and scrub with a coarse brush.
Note that harsh chemicals can damage tile roofs if used the wrong way. Make sure you rinse the solution off immediately afterward, and do not allow any solutions to dry on your roof. The risk of corrosion is high if not used properly.
After Tile Cleaning
Tile roof cleaning is not the only step you need to undertake. First of all, it’s best to clean out your gutters and ensure all other parts of the roof are clean and effective. Cleaning box gutters is an essential step that you should perform once a year, so it’s convenient to do it while cleaning your tiles.
Furthermore, be prepared to carry out repairs. While roof cleaning, you might notice breaks, cracks, and other roof issues, so get ready to address those issues.
Roof maintenance is an essential part of owning a home. Getting a professional roof inspection once per year is a great idea if you want to protect one of the most integral aspects of your home. In fact, professional roof cleaning services can save you time and ensure the job is done correctly, restoring your terracotta roof to pristine condition.
Roof cleaning is an essential part of maintenance for both aesthetic and practical reasons. If you want more information on roof maintenance and advice on care, contact us today.