How to Install Flat Roof Tiles

Start With Chalk Lines

In this video, I’m gonna show you how to install tiles for your roof. Now, before we start installing tiles, what we have to do is mark out chalk lines across our roof to make sure that our tiles are installed straight and in a nice pattern. Now there’s two ways of doing this. You can measure it out and what you wanna do, ’cause every tile’s a little bit different, is we’re marking to the top of the tile. Now you’re measuring from the top. You’re not measuring all the way down. You have to take the overlap of the tile into account. So every tile is shaped a little bit different. These tiles are built to have this section as an overlap. So it’s a one inch overlap actually. Yeah, pretty much a one inch overlap on the bottom. So as you can see it’s 16 inch exposure. So we’re gonna measure 16 inches from up here and mark a line.

The other way of doing it is you can align this tile. You can see that this groove is built for the tile eave riser. So you can see that, we can just make a mark right here. Then we can come here and make another marking here. And we can just snap a line between these two. So you can see here, this is a groove in the tile, and we’re aligning this with the eave riser. So it sits nice and snug and just locks into place.

So as you can see this measures 16 inches from the back of the eave riser, 16 and a quarter from the front of it. We’re gonna be using our chalk line. You can use whatever color you like. Generally we like to go with red as is easily visible. And now we have our clean line. So we know what where to install towards. And what we wanna do is go up the roof at this point and mark out all our chalk lines. Now you don’t have to do it in its entirety. You can just do at least 5 or 10 rows, enough for you to work. If it’s going to take you days to do work on this project, it’s probably best that you don’t chalk it all at one time so that it doesn’t get worn off. Another reason it’s easy to do it now is because you don’t have the tiles loaded on your roof. Generally, what we do is we’ll mark out all our chalk lines, then we’ll load all the tiles on the roof. You can imagine if we had stacks of tiles piled up on our roof, it’ll be extremely difficult to draw straight lines. So it’s always best to do this part prior to having the tiles loaded.

How to Space Out the Tiles on the Roof

So we’ve already got our first tile installed now, what we wanna do is figure out the spacing for the rest of our tiles. This is a little bit of a complicated process and not as straightforward as you may think, as even though tiles have a recommended exposure, on this tile it’s somewhere between 13 and 13 and a half inches exposure, meaning from tile, the edge of the tile to the top of the following tile, we wanna have 13 to 14 inches. That means that there’s a three to four inch overlap from tile to tile. And what this allows to do is properly covering the nail heads. Now, the reason this is complicated is depending on the size of your roof, you’re gonna wanna work that down and calculate to make sure that the last tile that you install is not a small six inch piece. So you can measure it all the way from the top down to here, then divide by 13 to 14. If you’re not able to get a round number, then what you want to do is use your second row of tiles to offset. You can create a larger overlap, meaning you have a smaller exposure on your first tile. Then you go on full pieces. So we may discuss this in a different video, but you’ve gotta figure out your exposure. For this demonstration purposes, I’m gonna use a 13 and a half inch exposure here. Meaning, I’ve got 13 and a half inches from this line to my following line. And that’s the measurement I’m gonna use going all the way up. So now that I’ve determined that we’re gonna use 13 and a half inches, what we’re gonna do is just move up the line here. And just for this demonstration purposes, I’m gonna do two lines. We’re gonna go two rows up.

How to Install Roof Tiles

We’ve got chalk lines snapped, and now we’re ready to start installing our tiles. Usually on a real roof, what would happen is we would come to the edge, and again, it’s all about alignment. So if we would measure from end to end, making sure that we have relatively even pieces on both sides. We don’t wanna start off with a full piece here then when we end up all the way to the other side, end up with a small sliver. So again, you’re gonna have to do some math, measure the entire length of that run, and divide it by the width of your tiles. Instead of having the small sliver there, it’s better you cut this first tile down just a hair and you’ll have an even piece on that end. Just for this demonstration purposes, I’m assuming that we’re gonna install a full piece here, cut this corner down, and we’ll go all the way down.

What Type of Nails to Use When Installing Roof Tiles

Now, the nails that we’re gonna be using, they’re gonna be electro galvanized, do not use regular framing nails. You wanna make sure you use electro galvanized or stainless steel nails, either 16D or 10D nails. And the nails that we’re gonna be using are gonna be two and a quarter inch long. This is gonna penetrate through the tile, go through our sheeting and at least penetrate three eighths of an inch. You don’t wanna go too deep, just so you don’t damage anything. You wanna be careful of overdriving these nails ’cause you don’t wanna break the tiles. It’s as simple as that. On most jobs, you have one person laying the tiles down and one person behind them just nailing.

So now that we’ve got our first row nailed in place already, we’re ready to go with our second row. Now we’ve already got our line here on the top, the chalk line that we marked, that’s gonna guide our perpendicular rows. Now to make sure that we’re going in a straight pattern, we wanna stagger these exactly to half. The way we like to do it is instead of doing crazy calculations, we put two tiles next to each other and we get this line. Now we wanna center this line and pretty much bring it even. So we’ve got six inches on this side and six and eighth on this side. So we just wanna bump it a hair, making sure that we stay aligned to the top. So again, we wanna make sure that we have even spacing from here and here and essentially every row we’re gonna be doing the same thing continuously going up.

How to Measure and Cut Roof Tiles for Tight Corners

Now I wanna show you how to cut these end pieces. Whether you’re coming up against the wall or whether you’re coming up against the dormer or wherever it is, you’re gonna have to cut tiles all throughout your roof. Now, in this case, on our hip, we don’t have our two by two installed yet, but we know exactly where it’s gonna go. You can either do this with a measuring tape or you can just put it in place. And mark out your tile. You do have the luxury especially at your hips to go a little bit larger because you’re gonna have your hip covering it about six inches on each side. So I’m gonna mark one end right here. And the other end can go here. We’re gonna move this side and mark a straight line here with a chalk line. To cut any concrete or clay tiles, we’re gonna be using a grinder. This is a four inch grinder. You can also use a Skilsaw. Really anything with a diamond tip blade. So anything that’s made to cut concrete or masonry, you can use. We like to use grinders since they are a little bit easier to maneuver, but you can also use a Skilsaw. And we’re just gonna cut this. Again, it doesn’t need to be a perfect cut because all your cuts are generally gonna be covered under your hips and under your ridge.

All right, now that we’ve got this tile cut, we’re ready to install. We’re just gonna slide this into place, and being that we already cut the preset nail holes off, now, Marco already made a hole, but you just wanna use a drill, an impact driver with a diamond tip. Again, this is made for masonry. You don’t wanna use a hammer drill, since it’s gonna break it. You just wanna make a hole in there. Now you have something to nail against.

There you have it. Whether you’re at a hip, at a ridge, or a roof to wall, the concept is the same. You’re gonna be using a diamond tip blade to cut that tile to the size that you need it. Use a drill to make a hole, nail in place, and you’re good to go.