Products > Roof

RIBA Core Curriculum
- Building conservation and heritage
- Design, construction and technology

Knowledge level
- General Awareness

Clay is a highly versatile and durable construction component that alongside stone and wood, is one of the oldest and most influential building materials on earth. This course looks at the history of clay in roofing and how this impacted and shaped modern roof tiles. The manufacturing process, roofing legislation and the different types and formats of clay tiles are also considered.

In this section
- Contemporary products
- Services and support
- Roofing legislation

Navigate through each step of the CPD using the left and right arrows to review the content. At the end of each section are some questions, these are required if you wish to obtain a certificate upon completing the course.                     

Loveden Beck
Rivius roof tile - Clay is one of the most versatile roofing materials, it can be used to create appearances, such as slate.

Clay is a highly versatile material and can be fashioned into almost and shape, because of this flexibility, clay is being used to create tiles that have the appearance of other materials. Rivius tiles are an example of this, they are more cost effective than natural slate and provide additional advantages such as being more environmentally friendly, easier to lay and longer lasting.

Rivius tiles will retain their appearance and colour over their lifespan and are considered to be the first fully sustainable alternative to natural slate.

Aged reclaimed tiles
Modern tiles can be produced to give the appearance of reclaimed or aged tiles.

Technology has also enabled tiles to be made with a random ageing patterns to provide an appearance that replicates the look of a roof decades old.

For some projects, natural flat colours are too modern, so manufacturers have the ability to reverse engineer a tile finish to give a truly distressed look.

The roof tile market now has a far greater degree of choice that ever before, not just in profile, but in texture, colour and finish.

Goxhill Dark Red
Handmade tiles provide a high desirable, rich textured roofscape. (Goxhill Dark Red pictured)

Demand is growing for traditional handmade tiles, with both plain tiles and pantiles continue to increase in popularity across the self build, refurbishment and new housing markets.

Pantiles and plain tiles are traditional profiles that are predominate across different geographical conurbations. Plain tiles offer a versatile and distinct finish, with handmade tiles representing the premium market product.

Retaining roofing heritage

Traditional manufacturing
Traditional manufacturing techniques are still in use to produce bespoke items

Over the centuries, the use of roofing material has varied from place to place, with a diversity determined by local geography and material availability. One of the most enduring and appealing of these materials was of course natural clay with its mellow appearance and weathering properties.

Clay’s popularity as a roof covering, with its unique ability to be pressed into a multitude of shapes and designs, enabled past designers to create an endless landscape of decorative roofs through the inclusion of ornate finials, ridges and hips.

Builders in the 17–19th centuries in particular placed great emphasis on appearance and liked to included detail features to add character to their work.

Chideok Church
Bespoke tiles from Heritage Services can replicate the original look of a roof

There are some craftsman that retain the traditional methods, knowledge and the skills to reproduce bespoke products that can recreate the original aesthetics of a building. This allows restoration and maintenance of everything from listed buildings and ancient structures to one off productions and unique detailing.

Heritage services, such as that at Sandtoft, have been setup specifically to assist architects and roofers with repairs, restorations and maintenance projects

heritage services products
Skilled craftsmen can replicate any profile and any colour, with an attention to detail which ensures a perfect match to the originals.

Typical Heritage products include items such as:

  • Tegula & Imbrex
  • Under & Overs
  • ’11 x 7′ Plain Tiles
  • Peg Tiles
  • Feature Tiles, such as Club, Fish-Tail, Scalloped, Ogee, Arrow-Head Patterns, etc
  • Oast-House Tiles
  • Specialist Pantiles
  • Bambino Tiles & Single Roman
  • Triple Roll & Corrugated Tiles
  • Specialist Double Romans
  • Vault Tiles
  • Decorative Crested Ridges
  • Slotted Ridges & Inserts
  • Bespoke Finials, Hips and 4-Way sections.
  • Clay Sculptures and Decorative Terracotta
  • Cloaked Verges and Vertical Hanging
  • Glazed Tiles and features, or colour Engobed Tiles

Technical services provide easy access to useful advice, documentation and technical resources

Specifying clay tiles is straightforward and there are a range of technical tools and resources which can assist in the process. Comprehensive roof technical notes, installation guides, CAD drawings and “how-to” videos are all readily available online.

There are also digital tools which help with specification and installation such as:

QuantSpec – Provides an estimate of the quantities needed for the complete roof system by answering a few, simple questions about shape and pitch.

RoofSpec – Generates clauses to ensure that your roof is built to the latest standards, providing you with a requirements document that can be used by contractors.

FixSpec – Calculates a fixing specification based on the requirements of BS5534 and BS6399.


UK coat of arms
In the UK, replacing roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs can require Building Regulations approval

Compliance with standards and certification such as ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), and BES 6001 (Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products) is essential for project compliance in the UK.

Scottish regulations include BB93, which requires that all teaching and learning spaces need to meet performance standards for indoor ambient noise levels, airborne and impact sound insulation, and reverberation time.

The NHBC, one of the UK’s leading independent providers of warranty and insurance for new homes, issue comprehensive roofing standards.

The British Standard for slating and tiling, BS5534, was revised and updated in 2014

BS5534: 2014; is the revised British Standard for slating and tiling. It represented some of the most wide-ranging and fundamental changes to UK roofing practice in modern times, requiring every ridge and hip tile on every roof to have mechanical fixings. It also meant that more fixings are required for general tiles and slates and provided additional guidance on the use of suitable underlays.

It is common for clay roofs to have mortar on the fringe, however, it is a common misconception that the mortar can be used as a form of fixing, when in fact it shouldn’t be considered as so in today’s standards. The 2014 revision requires the use of clipping and nailing or dry fixing components across the roof.

Clay and solar
Clay and Solar - French laws require that new buildings built in commercial zones must include solar panels or plants as part of their roof covering.

Compliance with standards and certification such as ISO 9001, 14001, BES 6001 would also be impossible without the latest manufacturing facilities. Modern tiles are tested rigorously,  using techniques such as wind tunnels to simulate different conditions. This ensures excellent weatherproofing characteristics and conformity to UK British Standards and construction guidelines.

Automated handling and packaging process also mean the tiles are uniformly packaged, which allows them to be more easily and safely distributed on-site.



Wind tunnel testing is widely used for modern roof tiles

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    CPD Q&A

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    In the past architects created an endless landscape of decorative roofs through the inclusion of ornate finials, ridges and hips, which were particularly popular during which period?


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    Which of these should not be considered a form of fixing by today's standards?


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