Complete stripping and re-covering

Complete stripping and re-covering requires the new work to comply with building regulations, and this would often mean the use of a lining over the rafters beneath the battens and tiles. Such linings restrict airflow into the roof space, and the roof space then has to be positively ventilated or a modern breathable lining used.

It should be noted that where there is a double-lap roof covering, a lining is not strictly necessary for weathering purposes. Homeowners often attempt to line a roof because they believe it to be appropriate or perhaps to stop unnecessary draughts. However, attempting to line a roof from the underside (within the roof space) can lead to a number of problems. Because the lining is then not laid over the rafters it will direct any penetrating water into the eaves where it will cause rot and damage. Careful thought and installation is needed with regard to retrospective lining and it is best avoided.

In recent years there has been an increase in the use of expanded foam applications to the undersides of tiles. These are often marketed as providing a solution to insulation problems, securing loose tiles in place and reducing draughts. However, the use of such material should be viewed warily and it is suggested that such material should be regarded as a last resort only, particularly for historic buildings. Foam stuck to the underside of the tiles means the tiles cannot be salvaged for re-use at a later date. The practice also makes it very difficult to undertake patch repair in future because of the difficulty in getting individual tiles out. There is also a possibility of reducing the life of the tiles or slates if they are a bit porous, as it reduces the evaporative surface area: water absorbed when it rains will no longer be able to evaporate from the lower surface. The risk of frost damage is therefore greater.

                Map showing principal roofing materials used in England and Wales

                John & Jane Penoyre, Houses in the Landscape, Faber and Faber, 1978

Spray-on foams also perform poorly as a means of insulating roofs. The blocking up of ventilation and the lack of a moisture barrier can lead to condensation problems. Building regulations require a ventilation gap above insulation or a vapour membrane under the insulation, but with spray-on foams neither are provided.

From an aesthetic point of view these foams can also be a problem, as it is often difficult to prevent the foam spilling out between gaps in the tiles (particularly pantiles). Such foams are therefore a short-term form of repair that could increase the long-term cost of later work. If tiles are slipping it is better to undertake a proper repair.

Of course these negatives should always be balanced against

the difficulty of access and perhaps the expected future lifespan of the roof. If the building is listed, however, such work would require consent and many conservation officers would probably refuse consent for use of such products.

Traditional clay tiles create beautiful roof coverings that are full of character due to the individual nature of the tiles. Provided they are carefully and properly maintained there is no reason to expect them to perform poorly. Many of the typical problems found can be resolved without loss of the tile itself. Before embarking on any work to a roof seek professional advice on what is required. If altering or extending the roof of a listed building, ensure the appropriate consent has been obtained.