Keeping up appearances

If you’re embarking on a heritage project, following a few simple steps can help you restore an original clay roof to its former glory.


The need to preserve our architectural heritage for generations to come immediately sets heritage projects and those in conservation areas apart from other jobs. When it comes to clay roofs there are things you can and can’t do when you’re working on a restoration or conservation project, so here are some simple tips to help ensure your project runs a little more smoothly.


The requirement for heritage properties and those that lie in conservation areas is that the replacement roof needs to match the aesthetics of the original. So wherever a building traditionally had a handmade clay tile roof, tiles of the same material should be used in order to enhance its character and appearance. Even in the case of minor repairs, replacing them with modern substitute materials is normally unacceptable. Whilst Listed Building Consent is required to alter the design, materials and colour of any roofs on a listed building, it can also be required when carrying out repairs to the structure. If in doubt, always check with the Local Authority Planning department.


Clay tiles have a natural beauty and rustic charm characterised by shapes, textures, and warm colours; when faced with restoring an original roof they truly come into their own. They are available in handmade, hand crafted, and machine made options so you need to choose the one that best suits your particular project.

One option is to repair the roof with the original clay tiles to achieve a perfect match, so second hand or reclaimed tiles may need to be sourced, however finding products that have the required quality for re-use can be a challenge. Reclaimed materials must be carefully selected to ensure they are sound and of consistent colouring as they come with the risk of being of lower quality due to age, unknown previous use, and uncertain life span and normally have no warranty.

Another option is to find a quality alternative and get approval to use it. Amongst the alternative options are:

• Handmade clay tiles that closely match the original tiles and blend in with the local area. They boast the ultimate in quality, aesthetics and performance, add character and enhance the beauty of any building. In addition, they come with robust warranties, offering quality and peace of mind
• Hand crafted clay tiles are naturally colourfast and durable and may be a suitable option if the building had these coverings when it was listed
• Machine made clay tiles can be used to restore the roof if the original roof is made up of matching machine made tiles. The tiles hold their hue and mature with age so are an excellent option


It really pays to work alongside specialist heritage and conservation architects who can support you with planning permission, sourcing appropriate materials, and advise on the most appropriate building methods. Getting them involved early on will avoid problems further down the line. In the same vein, enlisting the help of a reputable local roofing supplier, who can help navigate through the whole process and provide samples to ensure product accuracy, together with a range of appropriate fixings, will make the whole experience a lot easier.

The heritage of our traditional roofs will be preserved by using the best products combined with the best advice, ensuring our architectural heritage will be represented in the roofs, new and old, for many generations to come.