How Long Do Terra Cotta Roofs Last?

Terra Cotta Roof Lifespan

Terra cotta roof tiles have been found on homes that are 50 to 100 years old and the tiles are still intact, proving their value as a quality roof covering. They are a beautiful exterior design element on any home and can convey a Mediterranean look, regardless of where the home is built.

How Long Do Terra Cotta Roofs Last?

Clay roof tiles are a longstanding part of American and European homebuilding tradition for several reasons:

  • The tiles are constructed from all-natural clay.
  • Clay was available in most areas of the country.
  • They could be painted with a glaze to offer a variety of colors.
  • The natural earthy tone blends with almost any exterior color scheme.
  • Terra cotta can be recycled and is environmentally-friendly.

Are natural terracotta roof tiles the best solution if you want a barrel tile roof?

What Are The Advantages Of A Terra Cotta Roof?

Energy Efficient

Since clay is such an effective insulator, it helps reduce the amount of heat transferred from the roof tile to the home below. It accomplishes this by storing the heat during the day, and in the evening, when the air temperature around the tiles cools down, the heat stored is returned back to the environment - not the structure.


Clay is an incredibly hard, sturdy, and natural material that can withstand the elements better than many roofing alternatives.

Weather & Fire Resistance

Terra cotta roof tiles are naturally fireproof. In other words, they cannot be used as fuel in a fire. In fact, the process of producing them requires that they are put in a kiln and baked at extremely high temperatures to give them their strength. In addition, they resist water, strong winds and hail.

What Are The Downsides Of Clay Barrel Tile Roofing?

What Are The Downsides Of Clay Barrel Tile Roofing?

Even though terra cotta is a great roofing material, there are many issues that need to be considered before choosing natural clay barrel tiles for your roofing project.


Clay is up to 4 times the weight of normal roofing materials. If you are building a brand new home, you can factor this weight into the material needed for the roof structure - but it will require a significant increase in your building budget.

Not a Great Alternative for Remodeling

Standard building practices have made it more difficult for terra cotta roof tiles to be used in the remodeling category. Standard building codes only require that a roof support a 20-25 pound live load - which includes the weight of the roofing material, occasional workers and some snow. The extra weight of a natural clay roof may mean that you would have to add additional framing structures to support the extra weight. For some homes, this would not be economically feasible.

Installation is Expensive

Specialists are required to install clay barrel tiles. Though the tiles are strong, they are brittle and can break easily if not walked on incorrectly. The tiles must also be installed in a specific fashion to avoid roof leaks and damage.

Local Availability is Limited

Local Availability is Limited

Finding a supplier of terra cotta roof tiles may prove difficult, though not impossible. However, if the supplier is not close, the cost to transport the tiles to your location could be expensive since the cost for shipping is based on weight and distance.

Maintenance Issues

Terra cotta is durable and weather resistant, however maintenance can be required if tiles are broken or if cleaning is needed due to mold and algae buildup. The tiles are very slippery when wet and must be cleaned by a company that has experience with terra cotta.


The underlayment that supports the barrel tiles may also need to be replaced every 9-20 years depending on the quality of the plywood used and the weather conditions that the roof is subjected to.

Synthetic Terra Cotta Roofing Is A Better Alternative

You can have the beauty and performance of a Spanish barrel tile roof without all of the negative aspects of natural clay. Natural clay tiles may claim to last forever, but the average warranty is between 30-50 years. Brava Roof Tile has a 50-year warranty, and our barrel roof tiles are almost identical in appearance to natural clay. Consider the following advantages of our Spanish Barrel Tile:

  • On average, it costs 30% less than clay
  • Can be installed by regular roofing crews - no specialist needed
  • Almost maintenance-free
  • Energy-efficient
  • No breakage
  • Not affected by hot/cold weather extremes
  • Available throughout the U.S. and many parts of Europe
  • Unlimited color selection

Brava Roof Tiles are lightweight and can be installed under California’s Title 24 energy efficiency code. This makes them an excellent option for light commercial buildings as well as residential homes. They are available in both Class C and A fire ratings and have a Class 4 impact rating, withstanding winds up to 188+ mph with ring shank nails.

Our tiles are manufactured from totally recycled materials and can be recycled again, making them one of the most eco-friendly roofing products on the market. Brava’s Spanish Barrel Tile is clearly a superior alternative to natural clay, from a cost, maintenance, and performance perspective.

Contact our customer service professionals today for free samples of our roofing products and get your project started right.