Terracotta roof tiles are made from natural clay fired in an oven. Clay tiles are extremely durable and will last 50-100 years. Painting your terracotta roof can extend the life of the tiles by preserving them from the elements.

You can paint your terracotta roof tiles with acrylic paint. Painting your terracotta roof will increase your property value and refresh the style of your home. Choosing neutral paint colors like black or gray will modernize the look of your terracotta tiles. 

Painting terracotta tiles can be costly but has a long list of benefits including mold prevention and increasing the resale value of your property. With the correct materials and proper preparation, painting your clay roof will refresh your home and extend the life of your roof. 

What Are Terracotta Roof Tiles?

Terracotta roof tiles are made from clay. Wet clay is molded into a rounded pan shape or a flat square. The tiles are then baked in an oven to cure. Terracotta roof tiles are the most sustainable option for roofing tiles. It is the only 100% natural roofing material on the market. On average, a terracotta roof can last 50-100 years with proper cleaning and maintenance

Terracotta tiles are energy efficient. The baked clay naturally regulates temperature by reflecting sun rays from the outside and trapping heat inside. This makes terracotta tiles a good choice for most climates. Terracotta tiles are also very durable and once sealed offer great protection against water and mildew. 

The trademark color of natural terracotta tiles is dark orange and commonly associated with a Mediterranean design style. This roofing material was first popularized in European countries along the Mediterranean Sea. Now, terracotta roofs are commonly found in California and Florida. Due to their durability and water resistance, terracotta roof tiles are commonly found in areas that experience heavy rainfall and intense winds. 

Terracotta tiles are not suitable for homes with steep pitches or experiencing excessive snowfall. Terracotta is very heavy. Adding the weight of snow could damage the structure of the roof. Also, since terracotta tiles need to be layered to allow water to fall, they cannot be used on homes that have severely pitched roofs.

How Much Does a Terracotta Roof Cost?

The average cost of terracotta roof tiles is $25/square foot. This price does not include installation, only the material. Compared to the $5.50/square foot price for asphalt tiles, terracotta roofs are extremely expensive. The price of terracotta tiles can fluctuate based on several factors.

  1. Availability of clay in your area. Finding locally sourced clay will reduce the cost of your tiles because it cuts down on transportation costs.
  2. The abundance of terracotta tile manufacturers in your area. Due to the cost, terracotta tile makers are less common. You want to find a tile manufacturer as close to your local clay supply as possible. This will reduce manufacturing costs.
  3. Irregularities in your roof design. If your home has varying pitches or specific architectural details that you want to maintain, it will cost more to have custom-sized terracotta tiles made.

Can You Paint Your Terracotta Roof Tiles?

If you want to give your home a fresh look, painting your terracotta roof tiles is an option. Over time, terracotta tiles can erode from exposure to salt, water, and wind. This is particularly an issue with homes near the beach. If the condition of your terracotta tiles is still good, painting them is an easy way to restore discoloration. It is also more cost-effective than replacing your terracotta roof.

It is easiest to paint unglazed terracotta tiles. The natural, porous surface is exposed and more apt to adhere to paint and primer. Glazed terracotta tiles are more challenging to paint. The slick surface is difficult for paint to stick to. It is still possible to paint glazed terracotta tiles, but it will require more materials and preparation.

What Type of Paint Can Be Used To Paint Terracotta Tiles?

The best choice of paint to cover terracotta tiles is acrylic paint. This will adhere best to the porous surface of the clay. It is recommended to use an exterior bonding primer before painting. This will make the paint stick better and last longer. The primer should also be acrylic. Also, a flat finish paint will look the best. 

Let’s compare exterior acrylic paint choices for your terracotta roof.

Paint BrandCoverage/GallonPrice/GallonPrevents MildewWon’t Discolor
BEHR Flat Finish Multi-Surface Roof Paint450 square feet/gallon$35/gallonYesYes
Narajo Colored Roof Coating275 square feet/gallon$70/1.5 gallonsYesYes

How Much Does It Cost to Paint Your Tile Roof?

The cost to paint your terracotta roof is based on the size of your roof, the cost of materials, and the cost of labor. It is recommended to prime your tile roof before painting. This will help the paint to adhere better. 

To calculate the size of your roof, take the square feet of your home and multiply it by 1.05. This will give you the approximate size of your roof. Certain factors may skew this number such as the steepness of your roof pitch. However, this equation should give you a close enough estimate to determine how much paint you will need to purchase. On average a gallon of exterior paint will cover 450 square feet of surface area. You will need two coats of paint to cover the terracotta tiles. Primer has approximately the same surface coverage area. To estimate the cost of paint and primer, we will use the cost of BEHR Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Primer ($30/gallon) and BEHR Multi-Surface Roof Paint ($35/gallon). 

The average single-family home in the United States is 2,500 square feet. We will use that for our sample cost equation.

Roof Size = 2,500 square feet * 1.05 = 2,625 square feet of roof

Primer Amount Required = 2625 sqft / 450 sqft = 5.8 gallons

Primer Cost = 6 gallons (round-up from 5.8) * $30 = $180

Paint Amount Required = 2625 sqft / 450 sqft = 5.8 gallons * 2 (remember, you need 2 coats of paint!) = 11.6

Paint Cost = 12 gallons (round-up from 11.6) = $420

You will also need a commercial-grade, high-pressure airless paint sprayer. Rollers and brushes are not effective on clay tiles. The paint will come out uneven. You can rent a high-pressure paint sprayer from most hardware stores for $100/day. It takes professionals 3 days to paint a home, so it will probably take an amateur 5-7 days. 

5-Day Equipment Rental$500

We have outlined the DIY cost for 1,000 sq ft, 2,000 sq ft, 2,500 sq ft, and 3,000 sq ft homes below:

Roof Size1,050 sqft2,100 sqft2,625 sqft3,150 sqft
DIY Cost$600$825$1,100$1,400

It will save you time and aggravation to hire professional painters. It is also safer. Terracotta tiles are easily damaged by hard impact. You need to be careful when walking on them. If you have never worked on a terracotta roof before, it is best to hire a painter. They will know where to step and how to apply the paint in a way that will not damage your roof. 

A high-quality painter charges $75-$100 for labor. A small roof takes 1-2 days to paint, a medium roof takes 2-3 days to paint, and a large roof can take 4-5 days to paint. Hiring a professional painting company will cost approximately $5,000 to paint a medium-sized roof (not including materials). 

What Colors Look Good On a Terracotta Roof?

When deciding on a paint color for your terracotta roof, consider whether or not you like the Mediterranean style. If so, select a paint color close to the natural color of the clay-like oranges or red.

Red terracotta roof – Decorated Life

If you want your home to have a more contemporary feel, consider painting the roof in neutral tones. Tans, grays, and blacks blend into wood landscapes. This gives a much more modern feel than bright colors. 

Most importantly, you want to select a paint color that complements the exterior color of your home. For example, if your home is gray, a gray or black roof would look best. If your home is tan, a dark brown or dark red roof would look good. 

Black terracotta roof – MCA Tile

Pros and Cons of Painting a Tile Roof

Painting terracotta roofs is expensive, time-consuming, and high maintenance. However, there are several positives to painting a clay roof including increasing resale value and mold prevention. 

It Increases Resale Value

If your clay roof is discolored and lackluster, it will negatively affect the resale price of your home. A simple coat of paint will restore your terracotta roof to like-new condition. Terracotta roofs increase property values because they last 3-5x longer than a regular asphalt roof. Applying a fresh coat of paint will make the roof look newer and reduce maintenance for the next owner.

It Prevents Mold

Water, salt, and wind will degrade clay tiles. This leaves them susceptible to mold, mildew, and water damage. Clay is naturally porous. When the tiles are eroded, they are more likely to trap moisture. Painting your terracotta roof will seal the tiles. The paint will act as a protective layer over the terracotta. This will stop water from seeping into the pores of the clay and in turn, stop the growth of mold and mildew. Painting your roof will extend its life. 

Refreshes a House

The traditional color of terracotta tiles is dark orange. While beautiful, this heavily leans towards the Mediterranean style. If you want to make your home look more contemporary, painting the roof in a neutral color will instantly refresh the overall aesthetic. Common contemporary roof colors are light gray and black. 

Costly To Do

The main downside of painting your terracotta roof is the cost. Even if you do the work yourself, it will cost several thousands of dollars. However, painting is still much cheaper than replacing the roof. Sealing the clay tiles with paint will extend the life of your terracotta tiles and save money over the lifetime of your roof. 

Painting your terracotta tiles in neutral colors with high-quality acrylic paint will extend the life of your clay roof while also refreshing the look of your home. The benefits of painting your clay roof far outweigh the cost. 

Resources & Related Articles

Can You Paint On Terracotta Roof Tiles?

The Terracotta Roof: A Complete Guide to this Classic Roofing Style

Can Terracotta Roof Tiles Be Painted?

The Pros and Cons of Painting Terracotta Roof Tiles

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