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How to Install Roof Tiles?

head image of how to install roof tiles

For those with a passion for home renovation and a desire to tighten the purse strings on project costs, undertaking a project as substantial as roof tiling can be daunting yet entirely achievable. Equipped with the correct tools, a range of materials, and a robust knowledge base, this task is certainly within the capabilities of a competent homeowner looking to execute a professional-looking job on their roof tiles.

We’re going to dismantle the process of roof tiling into digestible, actionable steps. Covering all aspects, from the necessary tools and materials, picking the ideal roof tile, preparing your roof for the tiling process, and finally, a detailed walkthrough on the tiling itself. You’ll be furnished with answers to common queries, safety recommendations, and hints to help perfect your task.

Table of Contents

Materials & Equipment

For the completion of a roof tiling project, the following tools, equipment, and materials are essential:

  • Roofing tiles

  • Timber battens

  • Under-tile membrane or underlay

  • Ladder, appropriate for the task

  • Roofing hammer

  • Roofing nails

  • Measuring tape

  • Tool belt

  • Wet tile cutter or circular saw

  • Marking pencil

  • Scoring blade

  • Tile nippers

Start with Safety Measures


Roofing can pose hazards, irrespective of your level of expertise. Safeguard yourself from potential accidents by investing in a fall kit with a harness, hook, and rope. A hard hat should always be worn to protect your head from tumbling tiles or equipment.

Plan your work around clear, mild weather conditions without rain or extreme temperatures that could lead to slick, treacherous conditions or overheating.

Ensure You Have the Relevant Permits 

Most areas necessitate permits for new roof constructions. Touch base with your local building authority to understand the permit application process and its expectations. Although regulations vary, many require at least a professional property inspection.

Find Out the Exact Quantity of Materials Required 


To prevent interruptions, ensure you have all the necessary materials before beginning the roofing task. To gauge this, multiply the width and height of the roof slope. The result will give you half of the roof area; doubling this figure will provide the total size in square feet.

Prep Your Roof 

Before laying new roof tiles, existing ones must be removed. Extracting an old roof is a task in itself, demanding additional tools, materials, and time. Begin with a roofing shovel to clear the current roofing materials, an activity requiring substantial physical exertion. After this, conduct necessary repairs to guarantee a secure structure for the new installation. Fix any damaged or water-logged beams.

Even for DIY enthusiasts, seeking the services of a roofing contractor for this task may be a worthy investment, as they can detect potential or current issues that could otherwise go unnoticed.

➣Click here to learn about the popular roof tiles.

Is the Roof Structure Sound?

To balance on a tightrope of uncertainty is no act for your tiles. Thus, the underpinning roof frame’s stability is not merely desirable; it’s indispensable. The structure must be robust and damage-free. Inspect your roof structure for the following warning signs:

  • Water damage & leaks

  • Mould & moss growth

  • Decay & rot

  • Cracks

  • Sagging

  • Warping

  • Signs of displacement/movement

  • Damaged flashing

  • Gutter debris

  • General aging

  • Deteriorating existing underlay

  • Damaged gutters

  • Dark patches

water damage repair

Are Repairs Necessary?

Should your gaze catch even a hint of a feeble beam or a wayward leak in your rooftop’s fortress, hesitate not! Don the mantle of action, repair what’s fractured, replace what’s ruined. Those leaks, timber splits, rot, or even the obdurate debris lounging in corners are your quest. Eradicate these problems, for only then shall the act of tiling commence.

Step 1: Installing the Under-tile Membrane


Roofing underlay provides an added protection layer against moisture and weathering. In older properties, tiles or slates often lie over a layer of reinforced roofing felt. However, breathable roof membranes have gained popularity in recent years due to their ability to combat condensation in your roof space. 

Correct installation of the underlay ensures optimal protection for your roof and a top-tier finish for your tiles: 

  1. Start by inspecting your roof rafters for residual splinters, cracks, or loose nails. Anything left over should be removed to prevent the membrane from tearing.
  1. From the bottom, roll the first membrane across the trusses. Secure one end using 25mm galvanized clout nails, then gently stretch the rest of the roll across to the other side.
  1. The membrane should be laid evenly but not too taut. Achieve this by leaving a slight dip between each rafter.
  1. Once the desired tension is achieved, secure the other side of the membrane using additional nails. Also, be sure to secure a few on the rafters in between.

Step 2: Installing the Battens

roof battens

The strategic placement of your roofing battens is a pivotal aspect of roof tiling. If executed properly, it facilitates ideal, symmetrical spacing between your roofing tiles, enhancing your roof’s aesthetic appeal, functionality, and longevity. This interval, colloquially known as the gauge, hinges on the pitch of your roof and the dimensions of the tiles being utilized. Refer to the manufacturer’s manual for a proposed gauge.

How to Determine Batten Spacing?

  1. Temporarily place a singular tile on one of the lumber pieces and a second tile on the batten underneath. Abstain from permanent fixation, permitting subsequent spacing adjustments.

  1. Verify that the tiles are correctly settled and secured onto the battens. The tile at the base should protrude approximately 50mm over the gutter, fostering efficient water drainage and averting water overflow onto the soffit or fascia.

  1. Compute the distance from the summit of the second batten to approximately 30mm from the peak. This clearance will cater to roof contraction and expansion, circumventing tile damage.

  1. Divide the distance mentioned above by the gauge of the initial pair of battens. Round this quotient to the nearest whole number.

  1. Divide the rounded quotient by the total distance once more to derive the requisite gauge for the succeeding battens.

The Appropriate Overlap for Roof Tiles

The overlap of your tiles should range from 75mm to 100mm, contingent on their size and your roof’s pitch. This implies that the gauge of your roofing battens should be approximately 32-35cm, measured from the peak of one batten to the summit of the one underneath it.

Step 3: Installing the Roof Tiles

installing the roof tiles

Once the underlay and roofing battens are aptly situated, install your roofing tiles. Contemporary tiling practices generally involve two techniques: wet fixing and dry fixing.

Wet fixing entails using mortar and cement, typically employed for installing concrete roofing tiles. Conversely, dry fixing utilizes specially crafted nails, offering quicker completion and flexibility for installation in diverse weather conditions (albeit, we strongly advise assessing the safety of the weather for tiling).

In this manual, our focus will be on dry fixing methods.

How to Dry Fixing Roof Tiles

Fasten every third row of tiles, commence from the bottom, in addition to the topmost row. The majority of roof tile manufacturers provide specialised fasteners designed to seamlessly integrate with their specific tile range.

During the fixation of your roof tiles, it is critical to ensure adequate penetration into the roofing batten, while abstaining from infiltrating the membrane. This strategy is essential to avoid potential damage, which could result in leaks and subsequent complications.

Accounting for Overhang


Most tile manufacturers provide unique fasteners that integrate flawlessly with their product range.

When installing your roofing tiles, ensuring proper penetration into the roofing batten is paramount without intruding on the membrane. This preventive measure helps to avert potential leaks and other complications.

If your roof showcases an overhanging edge, often termed as a verge, aim for a 40-50mm overhang with your tiles. This ensures rainwater is directed into your guttering system rather than spilling over your property’s sides. Completing the verge piece using the highest portion of your tile profile is recommended, as it establishes the most effective edge.

How Many Overhangs Should Roof Shingles Have?

Step 4: Fixing Verge, Ridge, and Hip Tiles

Fixing Verge, Ridge, and Hip Tiles

In addition to your primary roof tiles, vergeridge, and hip tiles constitute some of the supplementary tiles that can contribute to the aesthetic of your roof. These are often incorporated after the main tile rows, enriching the visual allure of the roof. Verge tiles are intended for use along the edges, ridge tiles are employed at the apex of the roof, and hip tiles cater to the “hip” areas of your roof.

The fixation of these tiles should mirror the method employed for your primary roof tiles, be it wet fixing or dry fixing.

Additional ornamental accessory tiles encompass finials, often utilized at the roof’s pinnacle or over porches for a unique appeal. End caps can be affixed to the ends of ridges, shielding the tilework from the elements and enhancing the professional finish of your roof.

How to Clean and Maintain a Tiled Roof

roof cleaning and maintaning

Depending on the specific roof tile used, experts generally suggest cleaning your roof every 2 to 3 years using a pressure washer or a gentle brush and garden hose for more delicate areas. Notably, moss, algae, or debris should prompt more frequent cleanings. For more insights on maintaining immaculate roof tiles, you can read the wikiHow post on cleaning and maintaining roof tiles.

Determining the Required Number of Tiles

Once you’ve chosen the perfect tile, your next task is determining the quantity required to cover your entire roof structure. This calculation encompasses the following parameters:

  • Roof area

  • Roof pitch

  • Rafter length

  • Tile cover width

  • Tile batten gauge

  • Tile headlap

While this may seem overwhelming initially, it’s relatively straightforward. For assistance, refer to our blog post on calculating the number of roof tiles needed.

Walking on Roof Tiles: Advisable?

Roofers Walking on a Roof

It is strongly recommended not to walk on the tiles during and after installation. While tiled roofs exhibit remarkable durability against weather elements, foot traffic can cause significant damage.

In unavoidable circumstances, follow these safety measures:

  1. Aim to distribute your weight evenly.

  1. Walk on the balls of your feet, stepping lightly onto tiles.

  1. Walk on the lower third of the roof tiles, where they exhibit maximum strength.

  1. Always position your feet on the tile peaks.

  1. Refrain from stepping on ridge or hip tiles, which are particularly susceptible to damage.

Proper footwear is crucial when working atop a roof, particularly during cold or wet conditions, as these could affect grip. A wide range of safety boots suited for rooftop work is available.

How to Trim Roof Tiles

To create the perfect fit for your roof structure, you often must trim down the roof tiles on-site. The difficulty of this will depend on the tile material you have chosen. For example, high-strength concrete tiles will require a wet-tile cutter, whereas some lightweight roof tiles need only hand tools.

To safely cut your roof tiles:

  1. Take measurements to know how much of the tile you’ll need to cut away.

  1. Draw or score a line along the underside of the tile using a straight edge, pencil, or blade to mark out where you’ll be cutting.

  1. Carefully cut along this line using a diamond-tipped wet tile cutter or circular saw.

  1. Use a soft cloth to clean the cut edge, and sand smooth if necessary.

  1. Ensure appropriate PPE, including goggles, gloves, and a dust mask when cutting roof tiles. If you’re uncomfortable performing this task, seek professional help.

cutting roof tiles
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