Best Way to Clean Concrete Roof Tiles as Part of Annual Home Maintenance
Is your roof looking dirty and faded? Are lichen and algae beginning to grow? If so, it is definitely time to freshen it up with a good cleaning – and you might do more than improve its appearance. Cleaning a concrete tile roof periodically is also essential to its longevity. We’ll tell you why below with reasons to clean a tile roof, the best techniques to use and thoughts on DIY vs pro cleaning options.
Whether you’re prepping the house to sell, concerned about getting the best return on your investment or simply want to restore a like-new luster to the roof, regular tile cleaning is important home maintenance.
Six Reasons to Clean Your Tile Roof
- Preparing to Sell Your Home
Home buyers know that replacing a roof is one of the costliest home repairs they face. Upon arriving at your house, if they see a nice clean and well-maintained concrete roof, the curb appeal with much nicer – a huge benefit when selling your home.
- Getting the Best Longevity from Your Tile Roof
Yes, your home’s curb appeal takes a hit with a dirty tile roof – but worse, that buildup on the tiles is the source of problems that can damage the roof, shortening its lifespan, and even causing damage to your home’s structure beneath the tiles.
- Removing Moss, Algae and Lichen
Yes, vegetation on the roof is unsightly. And it soaks holds water, which increases the weight of the roof and softens tiles. The sealer will be worn away too, making the tiles vulnerable to moisture damage that can begin to disintegrate the tiles.
- Keeping Pests Away
All that vegetation attracts insects, which then attract birds, and pretty soon, the appearance of your roof and the health of your home environment even worse due to bird droppings.
- Applying New Sealer
You need a clean, debris-free roof if you’re going to put on a fresh coat of concrete sealer that will extend the life of the tiles.
- Keeping Your Roof Properly Maintained – Protecting its Value
When a concrete tile roof is maintained correctly, it continues to look as good and perform as well as you expect it to. A tile roof should last 50+ years, and they are expensive to replace. So, keeping up with cleaning and sealing the roof will give you the best long-term roof value.
How to Know When it’s Time to Clean Concrete Roof Tiles
The most obvious sign that it is time to clean concrete roof tiles is that they are looking dirty and dingy. Maybe neighbors had their tile roof cleaned, and you’re amazed at the fresh appearance it has and want that look on your home too. If your concrete roofing tiles have vegetation growing on then, then it is probably past time, and you should put this task high on your to-do list. And frankly, if it has been 5+ years since it was last cleaned, it is probably due. It might have problems forming that you’re unaware of.
Tip: Roofs in hot, humid climates get dirtier faster, and vegetation starts growing more quickly. In those regions of the country, homeowners should have their roof cleaned every two to three years as a matter of course.
It might be hard to get a good look at your roof. If you’re concerned about getting on a ladder to take a closer look, you have a couple options. Use binoculars from the ground to view of the parts of the roof you can see. Or you might try looking at your roof from above using Google Earth or Bing Earth. You can certainly get a general idea of its condition with those services. And, of course, you can call a tile roofing contractor in your area to come out and inspect the roof. Many provide cleaning services, or they will certainly be able to refer you to a reliable, insured cleaning service.
Who Do You Hire to Clean a Tile Roof?
If doing the job yourself is outside of your own skill set, or maybe you’re just worried about the height of the roof, the companies below will be glad to provide the service to get the roof cleaning done.
Roof Maintenance Contractor
A company that specializes in the care of roofs is the preferred choice for many homeowners because it is what these contractors do “all day, every day.” Roof maintenance contractors have the right techniques, tools and cleaners for each roof type.
Power Washing Company
These companies are power washing specialists – roofs, siding, sidewalks, driveways, decks, etc. Just be sure that they have experience cleaning a tile roof, because each surface type has its own best practices for cleaning without damaging the surface or, in the case of tile roofing, forcing water up under the tiles and into the roofing deck.
A reliable handyman might be a cost-effective choice for tile roof cleaning, especially if you include it with other projects that you need to have done around the house. Again, be sure the person has proven experience effectively and safely cleaning concrete tile.
DIY Concrete Tile Roof Cleaning
If your comfortable getting to the roof and working on it, doing this job is possible with the right tools, supplies and techniques. You’ll need:
Roof cleaner – Often sold in a concentrate that you can mix in a pressure washer or sprayer. Be sure it is designed for concrete tiles and will kill vegetation and help inhibit future growth.
Pressure sprayer – Most tile cleaners recommend a pressure sprayer on a low setting – 800 to 1,200 psi. Use the minimum amount of pressure needed to dislodge the debris on the roof.
Gloves, eye goggles and grippy footwear for safe work on the roof and with the chemical cleaner.
There are a few techniques you should be sure you understand before beginning.
- Walk where tiles overlap, because that is where they are the strongest.
- Work “backwards”, meaning always keep your feet on dry roofing tiles, not on wet ones you have just cleaned.
- Work side to side laterally on the roof, starting at the peak and working down.
- Always spray down or sideways, never up. This will prevent water from being forced beneath the tiles. Also, take care around chimneys and other roof features that use flashing – being careful not to force water behind flashing.
The general approach is to spray the cleaner onto the roof and let it sit for at least 30 seconds, and then spray it and all the dirt and debris off the roof. Work in sections of 50 to 100 square feet at a time – roughly 5′ x 10′ or 10′ x 10′.
It’s a good idea to have a helper who can lift equipment and supplies up to you rather than you having to climb off the ladder onto the roof while carrying these items.
Of course, follow the directions for any cleaning agents you use, and get tips on how to use a pressure washer, if you don’t have experience or if you borrow or rent one you are not used to using.
This is also a good time to inspect your home’s gutters and downspouts. They should be cleaned of debris as well to prevent them from overflowing next to your home’s foundation – which is a major source of basement leaks. Gutters in poor condition should be replaced. If your home is surrounded by large trees, and gutters fill with leaves, consider adding gutter guards for prevention.
Cost to Hire a Pro for Cleaning
Most roof cleaning contractors charge $0.40 to $0.75 per square foot, or around $550 to $1,300 for most homes. The size of the roof, its pitch and whether your home is a single-story or multi-story dwelling are major price factors.
The work will include tarping sensitive trees, shrubs and flower beds on the ground to protect them, cleaning the roof, and cleaning up the debris that is dislodged from the roof into gutters and onto the ground. The work might be done from a lift, or the cleaner might get right onto the roof.
Expect the work to take between a few hours and half a day for everything from setting up to cleaning up the job site when the work is done.