How to Tile a Roof


Taking on a roof tiling is a big job that must be done right to prevent damage and leakage in the future. Which is why we thought we would show you how to tile a roof. The first step to tiling your roof is to choose the right materials for your situation.

The two main types of roof tile are clay and concrete. Clay tiles can last up to 100 years and are able to withstand extreme weather conditions. The only downside is the price, with clay tiles usually costing around twice as much as concrete tiles. Although concrete tiles are more likely to lose their colour over time, they are still capable of lasting up to 50 years with proper care.

Once you have decided on a tile material, you must consider whether you want a flat or ridged tile. This decision tends to be a style preference rather than the two having practical differences. To work out how many tiles you will need, you can use this handy roofing calculator –

Another important factor to consider when planning a re-tiling is the weather. It is best to save with job for the summer months to stop your house being cold. Also try to plan for a day with no rain as your upper level will be left exposed and water could damage the structure.

Now you’ve chosen a warm, dry day to install the best tiles for your needs, it’s time to get on with the DIY. It is also ideal to mention that this guide is suitable for roofs such as gables, gambrels, mansard or hip roofs – basically any roof that has a pitch, although butterfly roofs wouldn’t be the ideal choice to tile.

How to Tile a Roof


What you need to tile a roof:

  • Tiles
  • Nails – 25mm and 40mm
  • Hammer
  • Battens
  • Water resistant underlay


Step By Step Guide:

  1. Clean roof rafters – Make sure the framework of the roof is cleaned from any splinters or old nail that may damage the underlaying or hinder the tiling process. If this isn’t done it could cause leaks and other damages over time.


  1. Roll out the water-resistant underlay – This is important as it adds an extra layer of protection from sever weather. A roof underlayment acts as a barrier to moisture especially as shingles and tiles can be unreliable when strong winds pick up and cause the shingle / tile to lift becoming vulnerable to the moisture.
      1. Start by rolling out the first strip of underlay from one side of the roof to the other. If you have a large roof it is best to do this in 3m wide sections.
      2. Nail down one side with 25mm nails, being careful not to damage the underlay. Pull the underlay taught allowing it to sag a little between rafters before securing it on the far side.
      3. Also nail down the underlay on every other rafter to prevent it moving during tiling.
      4. Once this is done repeat until the underlay covers the entire roof, ensuring there is a 150mm overlap between layers.

    Roof Underlay Covers

  1. Calculate the gauge
    1. Lay out 2 battens parallel to the bottom edge of the roof
    2. Lay 2 tiles over (don’t nail them in) ensuring they are properly hooked onto the battens and have an overlap of around 75mm. the bottom tile should overhang the gutter by 50mm to ensure water properly flows into the gutter and doesn’t get caught in the roofing.
    3. Once you are sure the tiles are properly spaced, measure the spacing between the battens and nail them down with 40mm nails ensuring they go into the rafters. Be careful to make sure the battens are nailed in straight at this stage otherwise a slant will be noticeable later on in the process.
    4. Measure the distance from the top batten to the apex of the roof leaving around a 30mm gap from the top to prevent pinching or breaking the top tiles
    5. Divide the distance between the apex and top batten by the spacing between the bottom battens to give you an approximate number of battens needed (distance/spacing = no. of battens). If the final number is not a whole number, round it up or down to give you the number of battens needed.
    6. Finally divide the distance between the apex and top batten by the number of battens needed to calculate the exact spacing for the rest of the battens, also known as the gauge (distance / no. of battens = gauge).


  1. Lay down the battens horizontally at the calculated distance a part ensuring the battens do not slope at any point. Once you are happy with the spacing, nail them to the rafters with 40mm nails.


  1. Laying the Tiles –
    1. Start to lay the tiles onto the battens one row at a time starting at the bottom. When nailing the tiles in, make sure your nail does not go all the way through the batten as this may damage the underlay and cause leakages.
    2. For tiles at the edge of the roof, make sure there is an overhang of 40-50cm to prevent water falling down the outer walls of the building.
    3. If you are using flat tiles, stagger every row so that the vertical joint between tiles does not match up
    4. For most roofs, you do not need to nail in every row, usually only the top and bottom row then every 3rd row in-between. However if you live in an area prone to extreme weathering, it is wise to nail the tiles in more frequently.

Roof Tile Joints




So there you have it, a simple guide on how to tile a roof. This can obviously differ depending on the type of roof you have however, there are some of the basics. It might of been ideal to do this while installing but it is never too late whether you do it during or after tiling to add in a little light in the building by installing a roof window, roof dome or sun tunnel. If you need any information on how to do this we have a guide on how to install a VELUX roof window to a tiled roof. When you purchase a window, roof dome or sun tunnel you will get a manual on installing most of the time anyway.