Clay and concrete tiles make for strong roofing materials, more durable than shingles. However, they can break or crack if too much pressure is applied while walking on them. It’s generally best to avoid walking on your roof, but if you need to make repairs, you can follow the guide to learn how to walk on tile roof safely.
Choose a day with good weather to safely climb onto your roof. When walking on the tiles, move slowly and step cautiously to avoid damaging them.
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Tips for Walking On the Tile Roof
First, note that walking on your tile roof is not recommended, and tile manufacturers advise against it as well.
Although concrete tiles are strong, they are not designed to be walked on. Each time someone walks on these tiles, it creates stress that can cause cracking or loosening. This, in turn, can lead to tiles coming off and potential leaks in the roof.
Here are some tips to avoid walking on your tile roof:
- Use a long stick or rope to get items that are stuck on the roof.
- Put up Christmas lights by using a ladder instead of walking on the roof.
- Install TV antennas and satellite dishes in places where you can reach them without having to go onto the roof.
If you must walk on your roof, here are some tips to reduce the risk of breaking tiles.
- Walk only on dry tiles to avoid slipping, as they become slick when wet.
- If the roof is steep, wear a safety harness that’s anchored to the roof. This will catch you if you slip.
- Choose soft-rubber-soled shoes, like sneakers, for better traction. They also reduce the chance of breaking the tiles compared to heavy shoes or boots.
- Move slowly and with care to limit the pressure you put on the tiles.
- Walking on the balls of your feet helps distribute your weight more evenly, reducing the risk of tile breakage. Avoid stepping with the heels of your shoes.
- For tiles that have curves or waves, position the heel and ball of your foot on the highest parts.
- To prevent excessive pressure on any single tile, balance your weight between your feet. Shift your weight gradually to minimize the force on each foot.
- Do not step on cracked or damaged tiles as they are more likely to break.
How to Walk on Tile Roof?
Step 1: Ensure Roof Tiles Are Dry
Before you climb onto your roof, ensure the tiles are completely dry. The flat and smooth surface of roof tiles means they offer little grip. When the tiles are wet, they become much more slippery, increasing the risk of slipping and falling.
If there has been recent rain or if the roof is wet for any other reason, wait for 1-2 days to allow the tiles enough time to dry completely. Avoid going onto your roof while the tiles are wet, as this greatly increases the chances of a fall.
Step 2: Choose Appropriate Footwear
For walking on your tile roof, select shoes with soft rubber soles for better grip and to avoid damaging the tiles. Heavy shoes or boots with hard soles are more likely to break the tiles and can hinder your movement. Sneakers or light work boots are good choices because of their soft soles and better traction.
Avoid wearing open-toed shoes like sandals or flip-flops, as they don’t provide enough protection in case of slips or falls.
Step 3: Get On Safely the Roof with a Ladder
Choose a ladder extending 3 feet (0.91 m) above the roof’s edge for safe climbing. Place the ladder’s base a quarter of its height from the house, ensuring stability. For a 16 ft (4.9 m) ladder, this means positioning it 4 feet (1.2 m) away. Make sure the ladder stands on even ground.
As you climb, maintain three points of contact for stability and safety. Having someone secure the base of the ladder while you ascend can further reduce risk.
Avoid standing on the top two rungs to prevent balance loss and potential falls.
Step 4: Secure Yourself with a Safety Harness on Steep Roofs
A safety harness is crucial for steep roof work as it prevents a complete fall if you slip. Fit the harness by placing your legs through the loops and tightening them around your thighs. Secure the top part around your waist so it fits snugly. Anchor the harness by tying a rope to a solid structure on your roof, like a chimney.
- Safety harnesses are available for purchase online or at home improvement stores.
- Alternatively, create a harness by ropes.
- While not necessary for gently sloped roofs, wearing a harness even on less steep surfaces can further reduce the risk of falling.
- If your roof lacks a chimney or similar sturdy structure, you can expose the rafters by lifting 2-3 tiles. Attach a harness anchor to the rafters and secure the rope to this anchor.
Step 5: Walk Carefully on the Bottom Edge of the Tiles
Focus on stepping along the bottom 3 inches (7.6 cm) of the tiles. The middle and top parts of the tiles lack support underneath and can break under too much pressure. The bottom 3 inches overlap with the row beneath, providing extra support. Begin by stepping onto the roof with your feet parallel to the top ridge and along the tile’s bottom edge.
Avoid jumping or moving too quickly across the tiles, as heavy or abrupt steps can cause them to break.
On tiles with curves or waves, step on the highest points or ‘peaks’ rather than the lower ‘valleys’ to distribute your weight more evenly.
Step 6: Step Lightly on the Balls of Your Feet
To minimize pressure on the tiles, walk on the balls of your feet. The heels of shoes are typically the thickest part and can more easily break the tiles. By applying pressure primarily to the balls of your feet, you reduce the likelihood of damaging the tiles. Lift your foot slowly with each step to gradually ease the weight off the tile.
For roofs with closely spaced curved or wavy tiles, carefully place both the balls and heels of your feet on the highest points, or “peaks,” of the tiles.
Step 7: Balance Your Weight Evenly
When walking on tile roofing, it’s essential to distribute your weight evenly between both feet. This approach prevents putting excessive pressure on any single tile. If you need to shift your weight, do it gradually to one foot, reducing the force on the other. Avoid standing with both feet on the same tile, as this can exert too much pressure and potentially cause the tile to break.
Step 8: Avoid Damaged Tiles and Edges
Before stepping, check the tiles for any signs of cracks or damage. Refrain from stepping on tiles that are damaged or at intersections where tiles meet, as these are more likely to break under pressure. Walking on broken tiles also increases the risk of slipping and falling.
Additionally, avoid stepping on the edges or ridges of your roof.