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While tile roofs are naturally incredibly long-lasting, cleaning and maintaining the surface is essential to take full advantage of the material’s excellent lifespan. Most homeowners get overwhelmed by the prospect of needing to care for their tile roof regularly, but it isn’t too difficult with the proper knowledge and preparation.

You can use a pressure washer or a liquid surface cleaner to clean dirt, mold, algae, and other grime from your tile roof. It’s easy to damage your roof while cleaning, so always use low water pressure and tile-safe cleaners. Maintaining your tile roof can improve its lifespan and boost curb appeal.

There are several ways you can go about cleaning a tile roof, each with its own unique pros and cons. In addition to deep cleaning your roof periodically, there are some maintenance steps you can take to help safeguard your home from the elements and improve your roof’s lifespan. So let’s just get right into it!

The Two Primary Options for Cleaning a Tile Roof

When cleaning a tile roof, there are two primary options: using a pressure washer or a surface cleaner to remove all of the algae, grime, and dirt build-up on the surface.

Which one you choose largely depends on your budget, skills, time constraints, preference, and situation details. Below we’ll discuss the benefits and disadvantages of each and how to perform each tile roof cleaning method properly.

  1. Pressure Washer
    Pressure washing your tile roof is a quick and effective way to remove surface grime, algae, and dirt buildup. There are many professional roof cleaning services that employ this cleaning method, and for a good reason. It’s super simple, quick, and leaves your roof sparkling and looking brand new.

    However, several potential downsides to pressure washing your roof are essential to consider before going ahead with this method. One of the most important to think about is the logistical problem of pressure washing a roof.

    Hoisting and situating a pressure washer on a roof can be a nightmare without the proper training and equipment. Not to mention the difficulty and safety hazard that using a pressure washer on a sloped surface, such as a roof, presents.

    Water at such high pressures hitting your tile roof can damage the surface. It can dull or remove protective glazings from the tile roofing and cause individual shingles to loosen. These effects can void your roof’s warranty, decrease its lifespan, and cause damage and leaks.

    All of that isn’t to say it’s not possible to pressure wash a roof without damaging it. With the proper training and equipment, pressure washing your tile roof can still be very effective. It’s important to use low water pressure to help protect your roof and take all the necessary safety measures to stay safe yourself. It’s just important to recognize the risks and take steps to mitigate them whenever possible.

    Alternatively, hire a professional roof pressure washing service who knows what they’re doing to get the job done safely and right.
  2. Surface Cleaner
    An excellent alternative to pressure washing your tile roof is to use a surface cleaner to remove the dirt, fungi, and grime from your roof and make it look new.

    There are many different cleaning solutions and chemicals that you can use to clean a tile roof, so below, we’ll discuss a few of the most effective and popular. Application methods also vary depending on the exact mixture you’re using, so make sure to plan accordingly.Roof Surface CleanerProsConsBleached-Based CleanersReadily available, effective, simple applicationVery toxic, lightens roof colorEco-Friendly AlternativesBetter for the environment, less toxic, simple applicationOften less effective than other cleanersProfessional Cleaning SolutionsSpecially formulated for effective cleaningExpensive

    Let’s examine these three main categories of roof surface cleaners and take a more in-depth look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

    Bleach-Based Cleaners
    One of the most common and effective ways to clean a tile roof is using a bleach-based (sodium hypochlorite) cleaning solution. There are many benefits to bleached-based roof cleaning solutions, ranging from their availability to homeowners, effectiveness, and simple application.

    There are some downsides to consider, though. Chief among them is the toxicity of bleach. It’s essential to take the necessary steps to stop as much bleach as possible from interacting with the plants and trees around your home if you choose this method. While using bleach, running from your roof can harm many things, so it’s important to keep it controlled.

    Cleaning your tile roof using bleach is a very straightforward process, and all of the necessary materials are accessible to the average homeowner. Below are the primary ingredients and pieces of equipment you’ll need:

    Household bleach
    • Laundry detergent
    • Pump sprayer
    First, carefully fill your pump sprayer with regular household bleach. Add two ounces of laundry detergent for every one gallon of bleach to increase the cleaning solution’s viscosity and help it stick to the roof’s surface better.

    Next, simply apply a light, even layer of the cleaning mixture to your tile roof. Reapply a second coat an hour after the first if there are still visible dark streaks or spots. Remember to always take the necessary measures to collect runoff from your roof during the cleaning process due to the toxic nature of bleach.

    Eco-Friendly Cleaners
    Bleach is not always the best cleaning solution for tile roofs because of how damaging it can be to the environment around your house. Luckily, there are many alternatives out there that are much less toxic and more eco-friendly.

    However, there are some tradeoffs when it comes to using more eco-friendly alternative roof cleaning solutions. One of the most significant downsides to more eco-friendly cleaners is their decreased effectiveness. That isn’t to say they don’t work, but they are not as potent as bleach and often take many more coatings to properly remove algae, grime, and dirt that bleach would otherwise remove in one or two passes.

    Below are some of the most common eco-friendly alternatives to bleach that you can use to clean your tile roof:
    • Sodium Percarbonate – Commonly referred to as baking soda or oxygen bleach, sodium percarbonate is a very eco-friendly ingredient for roof cleaning. While it is not as effective as other, more potent options, its low price and availability make it a great contender. Plus, you don’t have to spend as much time and money preventing runoff from reaching the flora around your house during the cleaning process.
    • Hydrogen Peroxide – Hydrogen peroxide is another great bleach alternative for roof cleaning. It’s very eco-friendly so you don’t have to worry about the trees and plants around your home. However, its cleaning effectiveness is relatively low, so you’ll need to do several coatings, and it can be quite pricey depending on the hydrogen peroxide concentration.
    • Sodium Hydroxide – Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye or caustic soda, is a degreaser that you can mix with water or another cleaning solution to increase its effectiveness. It’s also a mild paint stripper, so thoroughly rinse it from your roof and ensure the mixture does not come into contact with the side of your home. Typically, a good mixture is one ounce of sodium hydroxide for every gallon of water or cleaner.
    • Trisodium Phosphate – Commonly called TSP, trisodium phosphate is another degreaser you can add to water or another cleaner. TSP is an excellent degreaser and cleaner that helps remove grime and dirt from any surface you apply it to. A good mixture is usually 5 ounces of TSP for every gallon of water or other cleaning solution.
    Using the above eco-friendly cleaners on your tile roof is extremely straightforward and similar to how you’d use regular bleach. Simply add the cleaner of your choice to a pump sprayer, add two ounces of laundry detergent for every gallon of cleaner to help it stick better to the roof, and begin applying it to your home.

    Because eco-friendly cleaners are often less effective than bleach or professional cleaning solutions, you’ll likely need to reapply several times to achieve the desired level of cleanliness. You may also need to use a long-handled brush to help remove some of the more stubborn dirt, algae, mold, and grime.

    Professional Cleaning Solutions The above cleaning solutions we’ve discussed involve common household ingredients that you can mix together and use to remove unwanted grime from your tile roof. While they are excellent because of their accessibility to the average homeowner, they all come with varying levels of effectiveness when it comes to getting your roof looking brand new.

    Professional cleaning solutions specially formulated for cleaning tile roofs are an excellent option that is sure to get you your desired result with less trial and error. There are a ton of roof cleaning solutions on the market, with some of the best listed below:
    • Simple Green Industrial Cleaner and Degreaser
    • Defy Roof Cleaner Concentrate
    • Wet Moss, Mold, Mildew, & Algae Stain Remover
    • Krud Kutter Multi-Purpose House Wash
    There are professional cleaning solutions for nearly every need and situation that you can possibly come up with. There are bleach-based ones for a thorough cleaning, eco-friendly ones if you’re worried about runoff from your roof affecting the plants around your home, and many others for nearly every need and situation.
cleaning a tile roof

How Often Should You Clean Your Tile Roof?

Now that you know your options when it comes to cleaning your tile roof, you’re probably wondering how often you should do it. But the truth is, there’s no set interval when you must clean your roof to ensure it looks excellent and lasts a long time.

When you should clean your tile roof depends on a lot of factors, but generally, it’s best to clean it every 2 to 4 years. That number can increase or decrease depending on the weather, environment, moisture levels, sun exposure, and tree coverage around your home.

Lots of heat and sun exposure typically prevent many molds, algae, and lichens from growing abundantly. Houses in these types of environments don’t need roof cleanings as regularly as in places with higher humidity and more tree coverage.

How to Maintain a Tile Roof to Keep it Clean

In addition to periodically cleaning your tile roof using the methods discussed earlier, you can take some crucial steps to maintain your roof. Properly maintaining your roof between deep cleanings is essential to keeping it in good working order and maximizing its lifespan.

  • Spot Clean Your Tile Roof When Necessary – Dark spots may form over time near trees and in low areas on your roof. Cleaning these problem areas more regularly can help keep things looking great and prevent more severe damage.
  • Regularly Inspect Your Tile Roof for Damages – With the proper safety equipment, it’s always a good idea to inspect your roof for damage at least once or twice a year. Spotting problems early can help prevent more costly repairs later on down the road.
  • Promptly Repair Any Roof Damage – It’s essential to repair any damage as soon as you spot it to ensure your roof stays in the best shape possible. Promptly repairing roof damage will get them done before more permanent harm can occur.
  • Apply a Tile Roof Sealer – Pressure washing or using a chemical cleaner on your roof can strip away the outer coating from your tile roof. Ideally, you should apply a tile roof sealer to reinstate this crucial protective barrier and ensure your roof lasts as long as possible.
  • Install Copper or Zinc Strips on Your Tile Roof – Adding copper or zinc fixing strips to the ridges of your roof can help prevent moss, algae, and mold growth. The metal strips act as a natural fungicide when it rains to prevent unwanted growth.

Final Thoughts

Regularly cleaning and maintaining your roof is essential to keeping your home in good working order. Many homeowners neglect this crucial part of owning a home, but this is a serious mistake. Ignoring your roof can lead to much more severe and expensive consequences later.

Implementing a regular and proper cleaning schedule for your roof can boost your home’s curb appeal and its value. You can also save money on expensive repairs by fixing things early and improving your roof’s lifespan.

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