Other than straw and thatch, terra cotta roof tiles are one of the oldest man-made roofing products. This kiln-fired clay tile provides a striking roofing material that is best suited for homes in temperate areas. The origins of terra cotta predate ancient Roman times, but their use came into prominence during the Roman reign in many areas near the Mediterranean. It was popular then and is still in vogue today. This natural material is appropriate for the mild climate of that area and other locations where temperatures and conditions are similar. The strength and durability of terra cotta is largely due to the special kilns and temperatures at which it is fired.
Those areas here in the states where snowfalls are an unknown entity are well suited for terra cotta roofing. Regions in the southeast and southwest are considered ideal. The pluses for terra cotta include their structure, which allows for the passage of air beneath the tiles through air pockets that help protect the home from the sun’s intense heat. Their heavy weight is another advantage, as desert winds and sea breezesdo not displace tiles because their weight keeps them secure on the roof tops. Weight however can sometimes be a disadvantage in that it may affect a structure’s bearing capacity. In addition, terra cotta tiles can be quite expensive.
All in all, the public loves terra cotta. It adds a distinctive charm and distinction to a home or to entire communities when used en masse. Picture picturesque old Spanish and Mexican mission towns without terra cotta. They would never look as warm and appealing as they do with the tile.