How to Clean Your Tile Roof

Roofs are our first line of defense against the elements including rain, snow, sun, and heat. Thus, roofs should always be in prime condition. Concrete, synthetic, and metal tile roofs are intended to last for at about 50 years, while clay tiles can last for as much as 100 years. However, normal wear and tear due to exposure can shorten the longevity of these roofs.

Regular cleaning is one way of ensuring the good condition of your roof. Other benefits from regular roof cleaning include:

tile-roof-cleaningAesthetic Value – Moss, stains, and mildew accumulate over time, upsetting the overall good appearance of the house. Regular cleaning will keep your roof looking clean, new, and attractive.

  • Discover Damage Early – Minor damages to the roof can lead to more serious problems like leaks, draft, and mildew and mold spores. These problems cost money to repair. Regular cleaning can uncover minute damages early on, and before further damage is done.
  • Extends Roof Longevity – You also have the chance and the option to re-seal, prime, and repaint the tiles after cleaning. This will prevent dirt and moss from seeping into the tiles.

Tools and Essentials in Tile Roof Cleaning

pressure washing tile roof

A professional roof cleaner will have all the equipments and tools needed to clean your roof. But if you prefer to do the cleaning yourself, you have to have the following tools and other essentials in order to properly do the job.

1.       Pressure washer – A pressure washer is a must in tile roof cleaning. You should also have the recommended nozzles appropriate for your type of tiles. Concrete and clay tiles have small pores that can only be cleaned by a manual brushing or with the use of a pressure washer. 1,200 to 1,500 psi is adequate to remove dirt and stains without eroding the surface.

2.       Ladder – Have sturdy ladder with foot stays.

3.       Plywood – You will use the plywood to distribute your weight. Tiles are fragile and can easily crack under weight pressure. It is better to foam treat the underside of the plywood to lessen the pressure.

4.       Cleaning Chemicals – Chemicals and other cleaning agents help the efficient roof cleaning process. Professional roof cleaners use and recommend sodium hydroxide based products. They are safer, environment friendly and just as effective degreaser.  The chlorine and water solution is also an effective cleaning option that is also cheaper.

5.       Primers, Sealant, and Paint – Cleaning can erode and peel away tile coatings and paint. Newly cleaned tiles are prone to dirt, moisture, and damage. Re-coat the seal and paint in order to protect the tiles from dirt and moss infestation.

6.       Replacement Tiles – Cleaning your roof is also a good time to repair minor damages. Replace cracked and loose tiles uncovered during cleaning. There is also the possibility that you might unintentionally damage some tiles walking on the roof.

7.       Clean and Dry Cloth Rugs. This will be used in buffing the roof in order to remove the efflorescence.

Important Safety Guidelines to Follow when Cleaning Tile Roof

Chemical treating tile roof

Cleaning roofs is a hazardous job that is why it is best to let the professionals do it. However, with enough precaution and safety measures, you can safely and successfully clean your own roof. Here are some basic safety tips to remember when cleaning roofs:

  • Use shoes with good traction. Wet, mossy, and soapy tiles are slippery. Shoes with good traction will give you additional hold and balance while on the roof.
  • Step on the lower portion of the tiles. If you are to step directly on the tiles, place your footing in the lower part, or the portion that is supported from underneath.
  • Distribute your weight. Use a walkway to distribute your weight and lessen the pressure on the tiles. It would be better to cushion the underside of the plywood with foam.
  • Stay on dry areas. As much as possible, stand on dry areas. Plan your work so that you will be standing on dry parts of the roof.
  • Stand on flat areas. Choose the flattest parts of the roof to stand on. This is safer for you and your weight is more widely distributed.
  • Protect your plants. Some cleaning agents are harsh on plants. Before you work on cleaning the roof, protect the plants that will be affected with runoffs and overspray. If you are using chlorine and other strong agents, cover plants under the eaves or roofline with plastic. You can just wet the plants beforehand when using mild cleaning solutions.
  • Section the roof. Divide the roof into sections and clean one section at a time. You can also work on other sections while waiting for the other part of the roof to dry. This process will let you concentrate on different cleaning needs and will also leave you dry areas to stand on.
  • Buff the tiles. Washed and cleaned tiles tend to take on a whitish and dull chalk-like covering called efflorescence as they dry. This is caused by the tile reaction with the cleaning agents. It will not have untoward effects with the tiles but it will dull the shine. Buff completely dry roofs to remove efflorescence.

  • Maximize use of the ladder. If you can clean the roof while standing on a secure ladder, do so. Use also the ladder when cleaning the gutters.
  • Dress appropriately. Dress for maximum comfort and cover-up. Remember, you will be staying under the direct heat of the sun for a long time. Avoid clothing with flaps and extension that will hinder your movements. Remove bothersome jewelry like bracelets and long necklaces.

Basic Steps in Cleaning Tile Roof

Cleaning tile roofs is easy. As long as you have the appropriate tools and materials, it can even be fun. Here are the basic steps to cleaning your tile roof:

1.       Initial Power Wash – Using the pressure washer, wash the roof’s surface. Use water to spray off visible dirt and debris including leaves, dead insects, and twigs. Work from the ridge going down to the gutter. Let the roof dry completely.

2.       Chemical Treatment – Set your pressure washer to lower psi and spray cleaning solution on dry roof. This will let the chemical seep into the pores of the tiles. Let stand for few minutes or until dry to let the chemical work.

3.       Rinse Off – Depending on the chemical used and the extent of the moss build up and stains to be removed, the rinse off could be the most strenuous step in cleaning tile roofs. Using strong pressure, aim at hard to remove dirt and stains. Work from top to bottom of the roof.

4.       Clean the Gutters – After thoroughly rinsing off the roof, you can now turn your efforts into cleaning the gutters. Remove dirt and debris collected and check for damages.

5.       Buffing and Inspection – Buff completely dried roof and check for damages at the same time.

6.       Repairs – Replace cracked, broken, and damaged tiles.

7.       Reseal and Repaint – After ensuring that you have now a clean and damage-free roof, prime and re-apply sealant to protect it from the elements. You can also choose to repaint the roof for a brighter finish.

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9 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Tile Roof

  1. Thanks for sharing, and the main thing that we’ve noticed with the roofing on our home is that quite a few of the tiles are cracking and we’re having to constantly replace them. And I can’t seem to figure what the problem is.

  2. Ceramic is again a durable, strong tile which is suitable for floors, countertops and even walls, there are different types of ceramic and the porcelain tile does actually come under the same category, other types include the quarry tile, mosaic’s and glazed tiles.

  3. Tile help. I have monier concrete tiles with all through color, approx 7 years old. My house was damaged by the neighbors house fire and many tiles had to be removed to replace the underlayment. We have had to salvage as many tiles as possible, my size is no longer mad. The issue that I’m having is I have noticed many micro cracks on the tiles and the color of my tiles have changed . I have tried the usual cleaning products. Used Krud Kutter and scrubbed the tiles. Using soft wash method. These tiles have been handled so much. I have been looking at Ghostshields products. Was thinking about using a densifier and then a sealant, I am also very close to the ocean so my roof takes a beating. I wanted to use there cryli tek 5500 , it has a matte finish and says it will enhance the colors of the tile. I was also going to use the lithi tek 4500 for my densifier. Someone in there technical dept suggested that I use the siloxa tek 8500 since it will create a hydrophobic barrier. Only thing is nothing else can be applied over it but the same product. There is also the lithi tek 9500 which has the densifier and sealer in one but from what I have read I don’t believe it will enhance the tile. Any suggestions? Thank you. PS: I have also read that the Sila tek 3500, which was also suggested has more chance of leaving a white haze than the lithi tek 4500. I will also be doing this myself, don’t trust anyone to walk on my roof, someone always breaks a tile 🙁 Any help would be so appreciated . I have been dealing with this mess since December

  4. Thanks for laying out the step by step guide to how to maintain your tile roof! I wouldn’t have thought to treat with chemicals and rinse before buffing and inspecting, but it makes a lot of sense. I imagine that if you’re worried about damaging your roof you could probably hire a roof painter to do all of these steps for you.

  5. Thanks for the guide. Rent or buy a pressure washer, and clean your tile roof using a solution of 1 percent household bleach to water. Operate your pressure washer at 1,200 PSI, and keep the nozzle at least one foot away from the tiles as you work. Plan to wash clay tiles roofs about every two years to keep mold and algae at bay.

  6. Excellent blog post, I have found right information here and tips are wonderful another we can preffer roof cleaning to remove massive dust on title.

  7. In regards to GALELEA GORDONApril 7, 2017 at 7:27 am and your fantastic blog, I’m posting a couple of questions, as I would prefer not to use harsher chemicals where possible.
    1) How long should you leave the diluted bleach solution on a glazed clay roof tile before rinsing off?
    2) Does chemically treating a glazed roof tile, damage the glazing/coating.
    3) is resealing, essential for a glazed clay roof tile once you have chemically treated or just pressure cleaning?
    4) is only pressure cleaning sufficient ie. without chemically treating mould?

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