Can you paint terracotta roof tiles?

May 2, 2022

While it is possible to paint terracotta roof tiles, it is strongly advised against doing so as roofing experts and manufacturers do not recommend it.

Terracotta tiles are divided into:

  • Glazed
  • Unglazed

 Terracotta tiles are highly porous and are prone to cracking and peeling of paint. This is because the unglazed terracotta tiles absorb moisture from the paint resulting in the cracking and peeling of paint within a couple of years. However, through the glazing of terracotta tiles, effective painting of terracotta tiles is possible.

Glazing is basically a glass coating that can be applied to the terracotta tiles with a spray gun or brush. The glaze acts as a protective shield to prevent moisture from seeping into the roof tile. Terracotta roof tiles must be glazed before they can be painted.


Why is it not advisable to paint unglazed terracotta roof tiles? 

When terracotta tiles are made, they are fired in a kiln, making the clay insoluble. This means that once it has been fired, nothing can penetrate into the tile. After being exposed to the elements for years, algae and moss will start to build upon the tile surface and become ingrained into it. These built-up algae keep moisture locked into the tile, and when moisture becomes trapped on a roof, it attracts further moss growth.

When you paint any material, you are sealing its pores against water and air infiltration. However, their pores have already been sealed during the firing process with terracotta roof tiles, so painting them will not make them watertight again. You are actually trapping in all of the moisture and creating an environment where mould can grow underneath the paint surface, causing extensive damage to your roof and potentially your home if it is not noticed in time.


How will glazing aid in terracotta tile painting? 

Unglazed terracotta tiles are porous and rough, making them susceptible to water damage and flaking paint. To prevent this, you must seal the tiles before you begin painting them to ensure they will be protected from water penetration.

Glazing terracotta tiles are a common way of treating terracotta tiles to help protect them from the elements and make them more durable without having to be repainted. This glazing process creates a smooth surface that is ideal for painting, but it also changes the colour of the clay, which means that any paint or stain you put on top will not adhere to the tile.

Another benefit is that the glaze acts as a barrier that prevents moisture, salt air and the sun's rays from harming and wearing away the tiles. When choosing a glaze for terracotta tiles, it is important to select one that is appropriate for the environment you live in.


What are the types of glazed terracotta tiles?  

Oil-based glazes 

It creates a hard, smooth surface and is designed to be painted over the tile surface. However, they tend to yellow over time. 

Non-toxic water-based glazes 

It works with the porous nature of the clay. These tiles have a rough texture that makes applying paint or stains directly onto them easier.


What to ensure before getting started with roof painting? 

Before applying the sealer:

1. Ensure a debris-free roof surface.
2. Roof cleaning with a hose or pressure cleaner and leave it out in the sun to dry completely before starting the sealing process.
3. Once you have cleaned the area well enough, use either an electric sander or sandpaper to rough up the surface of the tiles.
4. Replacing broken or cracked roof tiles.
5. Fixing gutters, valleys and fascia to avoid damage to the roof paint.
6. For complete maintenance, you can opt for terracotta roof restoration through experts.


Why is it not advisable to DIY terracotta roof painting? 

It's always tempting to take on a DIY project, and painting your roof is no exception. However, if you're thinking about painting your terracotta tile roof yourself, here are some reasons why it may be better to call in the experts: 

It's a big job 

Painting a terracotta tile roof can be very taxing physically, especially during summer when temperatures are high, and the sun is at its hottest. It requires climbing up on your roof with the added weight of ladders and heavy equipment, causing you to lose a lot of energy. The painting process may also take longer than expected, and you'll need to finish it as soon as possible so that your home won't be exposed to the heat for too long. 

It's dangerous 

If you're not an expert, this is not a good project. Not only do you risk hurting yourself while climbing up on your roof, but painting terracotta tiles also requires specialised products that you may not know how to use properly. It's safer to leave the job to professionals who have experience working on terracotta roofs. 

It's comparatively more expensive 

You will need to hire scaffolding and buy the paint, which won't be cheap! A professional roof painter will have all of this equipment already, so they will be able to complete the job quicker than you can. 

So, coming back to the question- can terracotta roof tiles be painted?  

Yes, actually, they can. Not only that, but the finishes that are applied to them continue to improve and become more durable over time. Also, it's important to note that not all terracotta tiles need to be painted—with many homeowners opting for a tile style without colour (or mixed with another tile in their home). Thus, if you're thinking about painting your terracotta tiles, do so with confidence with the knowledge of this article under your belt.


Why should you opt for Modern Seal Roofing? 

At Modern Seal Roofing, our Melbourne roof restoration experts understand that your home is one of your most valuable assets. That's why we take every precaution possible to protect your property while we're working on it. 

We are a trusted name in the roofing industry with over 25 years of experience and have a long list of satisfied customers. Our team is trained and experienced in all types of roof painting techniques to provide you with a high-quality service at affordable rates. 

We only hire experienced staff who know what they are doing and work well together. You won't find any fly-by-night operators here at Modern Seal Roofing! Also, we never leave any work undone and work with great dedication to complete the project within the stipulated period. 

Get in touch with us today for an obligation free quote for roof painting, repairs, or roof restoration in Melbourne!

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