How to check the quality of clay roof tiles

How to check the quality of clay roof tiles
May 28, 2019 Lifestiles
In Tips

Clay roof tiles are known for their durability and aesthetics over other materials such as concrete. For period properties, handmade clay tiles are well worth the investment when compared to machine-made alternatives. However, compromising on quality could be a costly mistake. So, we’ve compiled our top tips for checking the quality of your clay roof tiles.

1. The Sound Test

By tapping together two clay roof tiles, you can determine if the tile is faulty. When two high quality clay roof tiles are tapped against each other, they will “ring”. Listening out for this sound is crucial when selecting your tiles. However, if there is no “ring” it is likely that the tile is cracked. Finally, if the tiles produce a dull thud this suggests that the tiles are old and salvaged. Listen to your tiles, they’ll tell you when something’s not right.

2. The Soak Test

Checking the water absorbency of the tiles is another great test for the quality of clay roof tiles. The less water that is absorbed, the less chance there is that the tiles will be damaged by frost. This test involves a little bit of maths but is worth the effort to ensure your roof will have the longevity you’re investing in.

To start with, make sure that the tile is completely dry and note down how much it weighs. Next, soak the tile in a bucket of water overnight, making sure it is completely submerged. In the morning, remove the tile from the bucket, wipe off any surface water, and weigh again.


Weight of roof tile after soaking ÷ original weight of roof tile = <1.06




(weight of roof tile after soaking – original weight of roof tile) × 100 = <6%
original weight of roof tile


The calculation above suggests that your tile’s weight should increase by no more than 6%. Any more than this and there is a risk that the tile is not of a high enough quality to stand the test of time. However, there are exceptions to this when the clay preparation is so good that the tile can have a higher water absorbancy and still remain frost resistant.

3. The Appearance Test

There are two main aspects of what a tile looks like that will inform you about their quality. Firstly, check the consistency of the clay, this will indicate how well the clay was prepared when the tiles were made. If the tiles are flaking on the surface or if you break a tile the consistency of the clay isn’t the same throughout the cross-section of the tile, it’s likely that the tiles have been poorly made.

The second feature to look out for is the geometric characteristics of the tiles. Check that they’re not twisted by laying them on a flat surface. The dimensions of tiles should also be identical. However, when dealing with handmade clay tiles there will be a small degree of error.

Clay roof tiles

Handmade clay tiles are things of beauty, but not something you want to get wrong. Now that you know how to check the quality of clay roof tiles, you can be rest assured that you’re purchasing a quality product before you start tiling. If you need help choosing the right clay tile for your roof then pop us a message on our contact form and one of our expert staff members will be in contact to help.

Speak to our team today or request a call back.

Contact Us