A tile is a material generally used for floor, roof or wall coverings. It is manufactured using materials that can weather wear and tear such as ceramic, glass, metal or stone. Taken from the French word ‘tuile’ meaning a roof covering made of fired clay, a tile can sometimes also refer to lightweight material such as wood or perlite that find use for ceiling and wall coverings. Tiles of typical thickness are used for floors and roofs which need more durability than walls.
Tiles typically range from simple squares to complex patterns of mosaic, plain or designed, sometimes inlaid with marble or other hardware.
Tiled roofs are traditionally made using the firing technique of available materials such as clay, slate or terracotta. They may or may not have a waterproof glaze to offer more protection. Modern constructions uses concrete for roofing purposes which is more expensive. But the use of tiles as a cost-saving alternative and weather proof alternative to concrete is fast emerging. It also makes a superb style statement with its variety of colors, designs and textures.
The different shapes of roof tiles from the original square baked ones are:
• Antefixes – vertical blocks that are used to terminate tiled roof coverings
• Barrel files – semi cylindrical tiles laid in concave and convex methods in alternating rows
• Flat tiles – made primarily of clay, these are the simplest ones and are laid out in overlapping rows. This style is common in the south of Germany and is known as “beaver-tail”. They can also be made from concrete, plastic, stone, wood and even solar cells.
• Imbrex – this is an ancient Roman style of curved tiles that form a channel to run rain water off the roof.
• Interlocking – a ‘S’ shaped design allowing tiles to interlock to offer more effective protection
• Pantiles – also an ‘S’ shaped tile allowing for tile interlocking resulting in a pattern that is ridged and undulating. An example of this type is the ‘Double Roman’ pattern used widely in the UK and USA in the 19th century.
• Roman – this is a rather unique style where the tile is flat in the centre, one end is concave and the other convex and allows firm interlocking.
Roof tiles are fixed from roofing frameworks with nails; they are hung and fixed in parallel rows, overlapping so that there are no gaps to allow water to flow through.
There are several types of tiles for special positions; these are known as hip, ridge and valley tiles. The advantage of these tiles is that there are more options to fix them – mechanically fixed or embedded in cement mortar.