Can you paint terracotta roof tiles?

terracotta roof tiles restoration

Terracotta roof tiles are a classic Mediterranean staple, renowned for their rustic charm and legendary durability. While they have a storied history and make for an excellent aesthetic addition to traditional homes and properties in Adelaide, they also come with one significant downside. While concrete, slate, and metal roofing options can undergo roof painting and roof sealing to prolong their serviceable lifespan, terracotta tiles stand apart as a material that does not benefit from undergoing such restorative procedures. In this blog post, we’ll explain precisely what terracotta is, why painting tiles made from this distinct material may not be the best idea, and what strategies you can take instead to freshen up your roof. Trust us; you’ll want to read this before you pick up a paintbrush or call a contractor.

Most people take for granted the roof tiles sitting atop their homes, but the history of terracotta roof tiles stretches back thousands of years. Terracotta can be directly translated to “baked earth,” and that’s precisely what it is: a type of clay fired in a kiln at high temperatures until fully hardened.

Terracotta roof tiles have been a staple across the globe, including in China, India, and Europe, a testament to their durability and longevity. Traditionally crafted from locally sourced materials, terracotta tiles commonly served practical and decorative purposes in palace complexes, temples, and other culturally significant buildings. Over the centuries, terracotta has become one of the most popular roofing options worldwide; revered for its strength and classic finish. With its impressive history and timeless style, it’s no wonder that terracotta remains one of the favoured choices for traditional roofs today.

Why are terracotta roof tiles difficult to paint?

Painting may seem like a great option if you’re looking for an easy way to spruce up your terracotta roof. However, before loading up with cans of paint, it’s important to understand the challenges you are likely to face when attempting to paint terracotta. Instead of giving your home the bright and refreshed appearance you’re aiming for, painting on this material tends to result in an uneven application with a lumpy and lacklustre finish. This is due to one central issue inherent in many terracotta tiles: the glaze. Glazed pottery has been around for centuries, and terracotta tiles usually have an outer layer of finish that protects the clay from moisture and wear and tear. Unfortunately, when it comes to giving your tiles a new look with paint, this protective glaze creates a severe problem. Due to the glaze, the paint will not be able to adhere to the tile. At best, it will take on an uneven finish and start peeling away in no time; at worst, it will not stick to the tile and will easily slide off!

What About Painting Unglazed Terracotta Tiles?

If your terracotta tiles are unglazed, then you may be tempted to give it a go with some paint. While this will work better than if the tile was glazed, it still can’t guarantee that you won’t end up with an uneven application and a less-than-satisfactory finish. Unglazed terracotta tiles are exceptionally porous, which means they will absorb the paint (and other environmental factors) at incredible rates. The result can be an inconsistent, blotchy-looking roof that looks worse than before you even started.

How to Restore Terracotta Roof Tiles

The first thing to understand when investing in terracotta roofing is that signs of ageing are to be expected. Like all natural materials, terracotta is subject to a certain amount of weathering and fading over time. While painting may seem easy, there are better options for maintaining your tiles.

So what can you do instead? Several options are available if you’re looking for ways to freshen up your terracotta roof without risking a terrible finish or reducing its lifespan. First, you can try the DIY approach by cleaning your tiles with a stiff brush and hose; this should help remove any stubborn dirt or mould build-up that may make them look duller than usual. Moss, lichen, and other microorganisms should also be removed, as they can weaken the structural integrity of your tiles. Professional roofing companies can offer a comprehensive range of services, such as deep cleaning and terracotta roof tile replacement, which are usually included as part of roof restorations. High-pressure jet washing can help restore the original lustre of your roof without damaging the tile or its glaze, and individual tiles can be replaced.

What If My Roof Tiles are Damaged?

If you discover damaged or fretted terracotta roof tiles, it is always best to get in touch with a professional. A sufficiently damaged roof may require restoration or complete replacement. Experienced roofers can assess the damage and recommend the best solution. A roof replacement also allows you to opt for a different roofing material if you discover better choices than terracotta for your needs.

While the roof can be entirely replaced with new terracotta tiles, we endorse conversion to insulated Colorbond metal roofing at Oz-Roof. Colorbond roofing offers numerous advantages, including cost savings, weight reduction, a diverse colour palette, and improved thermal performance when paired with the right insulation blanket. If you’re unsure whether your terracotta roof requires restoration or a complete replacement, we highly recommend you read our informative article “Terracotta Tiles: Roof Restoration or Roof Replacement?“. Regardless of the route you choose, make sure that you consult with a qualified professional before making any decisions. A little bit of research and planning can go a long way in helping to maintain your terracotta roof in top condition.

If you’re unsure how to find a roofing contractor, our comprehensive guide outlines everything from what licence to look for, from licences and insurance to warranties and more. At Oz-roof, we’re always here to help with all roofing dilemmas and can provide you with all the advice and services you need to ensure your roof looks great for many years to come.


While painting your terracotta roof may seem like an easy solution to give your home a quick makeover, there are better solutions. Painting is not recommended for terracotta tiles due to their glazed finish and porous nature; these features make it difficult for paint to adhere correctly, resulting in an uneven application with a lacklustre finish. The best way to maintain a terracotta roof is to perform regular roof maintenance, keep an eye out for moss or lichen build-up, and consider getting professional terracotta roof services if necessary services. These steps will ensure that your terracotta roof looks great for years to come!

Happy Rooing!
-The Oz-Roof Team

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