Painting Cement Roof Tiles
LESLIE: Next up, we have a call from Rod in Nevada who’s got a roofing question; something about painting roof tiles.
Rod, what happened?
ROD: Well, during one of the snowstorms that we had this year – which we had a bunch of them – some of my roof tiles shifted and some of them broke.
LESLIE: What are your roof tiles made of?
ROD: I believe they’re cement.
TOM: Oh, cement tiles. OK.
ROD: Some of them broke. The roofing company now is telling me for them to replace the broken ones so that they match, they’re telling me that they can give me a gray tile and paint it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
ROD: But my concern is if that paint would last for more than a few years.
TOM: Well, that’s a good question because certainly roofs are in one of the most exposed areas of the house.
LESLIE: And they face the most extreme elements.
TOM: They really do. And even a phenomenal paint job is not going to last anywhere near as long as the natural material. So yes, if you put a different color roof tile on and even if you do a letter-perfect paint job where you prime it and you put several coats of top paint on it and you have the old tile color matched so you know the paint matches perfectly, it will look wonderful. But I would say even the best paint job, maybe seven, eight years you’re going to start seeing some pretty deteriorated roof tile in that patched area.
LESLIE: And what’s the general life of a cement tile?
TOM: Oh, indefinite.
TOM: Yeah, really indefinite. I’ll tell you what fails, and probably what happened in this case, is the fasteners fail. They’ll rust away or they’ll just erode away and you’ll occasionally lose a tile because of that kind of wear and tear. But the tile itself just never dies.
ROD: Yeah, what occurred was the – we had a phenomenal amount of snow this year.
ROD: It turned to ice.
TOM: Oh, so it lifted them and cracked them and broke them, probably.
TOM: Yeah, expanded. Yeah.
LESLIE: Now the only benefit of actually getting that half pallet of the tile that actually matches is that you have extra on hand if you ever have a situation like this again.
ROD: Well, I didn’t want to spend that money, either.
TOM: Yeah, well how much money are we talking about?
ROD: Around $6,000.
LESLIE: Wow. So then painting every seven years doesn’t look so bad. (Tom chuckles)
ROD: Yeah, to me it would, over a long period of time; once the paint starts to fade or peel or chip or whatever.
TOM: Any chance you’re going to sell this house in the next eight years?
TOM: Oh, well. (laughs)
ROD: Good thought, though.
TOM: It’s a good thought though, right?
LESLIE: If you are going to paint, you can take both tiles, the red and the brown, to your local hardware store and have them actually scan those tiles with the wear and tear that they’ve seen and how they’ve faded and adjusted to the sun and the weather and they can mix paints to exactly match what your tiles are at right now. So you can paint them to get a really good match but you’re going to be painting them every so often.
TOM: You know, I have an idea. You know how they make ceramics and they paint ceramics and then they kiln-bake them and basically the glaze forms on the outside? I wonder how hard it might be to have some tiles made that way.
ROD: Well, what I was thinking about doing, depending on what your answer was here today, thinking about taking some tiles off the back side of the house that you can’t see and replacing all the ones on the front and then doing something on the back different.
TOM: Yeah. That makes some sense. Yeah, so at least if you do have to paint some of the tiles, it’s not going to be in an exposed area that’s going to affect the curb appeal. But let me ask you this. Do you have any areas of your roof that are shady?
TOM: Because if you did, that’s where I would put the painted tiles. They’re going to last the longest there.
TOM: The less sun they get, the longer the paint job is going to last.
ROD: With these tiles, can they be pulled up without breaking them?
ROD: And reset.
TOM: Yes. A roofer that is experienced with tiles is going to know exactly how to do that. It can be disassembled.
ROD: I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome.
ROD: Thank you very much.
TOM: Rod, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Very interesting question.
LESLIE: I didn’t realize they got so much snow in Nevada.
TOM: Yeah, well it must have been kind of unusual and …
LESLIE: I thought it was all deserts and casinos.
TOM: Well, you know, there are those chilly places all over the country, Leslie.
Rod, thanks again for calling us 888-MONEY-PIT.