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A friend of mine is buying a second home near Phoenix and the place has a mortared tile roof. The inspection report states that the tar paper looks to be 15-20 years old and has a life expectancy of 20 years. The house is 23 years old, so logic suggests the felt is that old, as well, rather than 15-20.

I see hardly any tile roofs. If the felt has to be replaced, I assume the tiles have to be removed to do so. If that's the case, this will be a wicked expensive repair. If I'm wrong, what's the process?

EDIT: I realize this seems like a dopey question, but nowhere in the report does the inspector mention ripping off the roof and replacing the "tar paper." There's no roofing system I know of in which the felt could be replaced without removing the covering, but I'm not a tile-roof guy and didn't want to misspeak when I talked to my friend.

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I seem to recall a post years ago on the ASHI forum where Jerry Peck went into great detail about the process of felt replacement on roofs in Florida. I confess, I didn't read it all; Jerry makes me look like an amateur when it comes to writing long boring posts.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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This is from the National Roofing Contractors Association tile roof answers section on their website:

Underlayment

Underlayment (or "felt paper" as it is frequently called) is installed over the roof deck before the application of tile. An underlayment performs two primary functions: it provides temporary weather protection until the tile is installed, and it provides a secondary weatherproofing barrier if moisture infiltrates the tile roof covering. Many tile roofs have outlived the underlayment felts over which they were installed. Therefore, an underlayment's service life should be comparable to the design service life of the tile roof covering.

Yeah, I know; it doesn't help. I even looked in the Tile roof manual that you can download free in TIJ's reference library and it doesn't really address this issue.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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You are correct. The cost of replacing the underlayment can be very high. It requires a lot of labor to do a proper job.

Once a house hits around twenty years old, it is about time for the underlayment to be replaced. Most people never do anything until they get one or two water leaks. Then due to the cost, they may only do one side this year, and wait and do the other side a couple of years from now.

When the whole house is being done, this is what I normally see: The old tiles are taken up on half the house and stacked on the other side of the house. Then the wooden batten is taken up, and afterwards, the underlayment. Then on the better jobs, I see the old flashing removed and replaced. All new underlayment is put down. Then a mixture of old and new battens. Then the tile are completely reinstalled. Then the same process is done on the other side of the house.

The last house that I heard about having the roof done, was $15,000 for half the roof. This was on a 2600 square foot house.

I have never had it done myself, however I continual to hear about other high prices from homeowners.

While the tiles will last a lifetime, the underlayment is only good for about twenty years. Of course, it also depends on how thick the underlayment is to begin with. Note: The cost that I gave above is for a normal tile roof. It is not for a mortared tile roof which would be more.

Jeff Euriech

Peoria Arizona

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Jeff, eexxxxxtremely helpful. I don't know much about tile roofs, and the inspection report was wicked vague. Not until one drudged through 44 pages of mostly disclaimers was there the comment about the felt's age and expected life span. I assume the 15-20 year age estimate was on a pull-down menu, and the lummox didn't realize that the felt wouldn't have logically been replaced at 3-8 years old.

Mike, thanks for looking. I Googled, as well, and came up empty. You da best . . .

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I think that there's an environmental aspect to take into consideration as well. Up here, I see 20-year old tile roofs where the felt looks & feels nearly new.

Of course, we don't have blistering sunshine 357 days a year as Jeff does.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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This is odd, as I see tile roofing that's >100 years old with the original felts, and the felts are fine.

Extremely dirty, but still soft and water resistant.

That's because 100+ years ago no one would think of skimping on any of the details of a roof with that kind of longevity. Today it would be normal to skimp on all of the details that end up concealed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi,

I am newbie in this forum site.

Tile roofs are most commonly found in the south and although fungus can't destroy tile like it does asphalt or wood, tiles are destroyed by having the weight roof cleaners walking on the roof, tile are fragile especially after baking in the sun for years, the damage isn't apparent at first but as the cracks wash out with rain water they will become dislodged and fall off.

Thanks.

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