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It’s a challenge to make roofs interesting because much like toilet paper, both are generally ignored until the obvious happens. So I’ll give this a try by touching on composition of the tiles, history, and general installation approaches. But first a few quotes I’ve heard over the years:

“We built this in ‘54 and the leaks commenced in ‘55.”

“Well, we have a strong wind and a heavy rain and it’s just like holidays and the in-laws. We know what to expect”

“Do you building and grounds folks ever get used to chasing your tail?

The tiles are actually made of terra-cotta (clay) material. This material has several advantages over a concrete tile. The color is consistent through the whole tile and not a surface coating so a little surface wear, say from a branch, won’t show up. The moisture absorption is about half of a concrete tile so you get less damage from our freeze/thaw cycles. This means less cracking. The life of a terra-cotta tile is over 100 years. Now a big thing is they are lighter. This means you can cover much larger roof areas with less reinforcement. The modern clay tiles manufactured today have a clear coat that prevents moisture absorption. We don’t have that feature due to age of our roof.

As you might guess terra-cotta tiles have been around for some time. They have been  found in some Greek village excavations that date back to 3rd millennium BCE . Their usage rapidly grew and spread around to and through Asia Minor, and would have replaced thatched roofs for 2 major reasons. They didn’t need annual maintenance and the family cooking fire couldn’t ash the village. This is a good thing, in any millennium. They have been very popular across Europe through today.

The general construction method follows one of two methods with the only difference being the use of a plywood sheeting under the felting sheet. A lot of European structures are built by run the felting across the open rafters, then batten strips are placed perpendicular to the rafters for the tiles to be nailed to, and they form their own self supporting structure. The the other method uses plywood underlay for the felting to lay on. The advantage of no plywood is that the felting can sag slightly so water that gets thru the tiles simply runs down to the gutter. This is the more common method. The felting generally has about 30 year life, which explains our need to replace ours. Hence we kicked off the “Raise the Roof” fundraising campaign this year. and we are so very grateful for all your generosity.

Thanks for your attention, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask me.

Submitted by Ron Brown, Junior Warden