Close your eyes, and picture the perfect Spanish home.
I’d be willing to bet more than a few euros that it’s creamy white, with beautiful arched windows. Maybe it has a few terracotta pots outside, and it definitely has a roof made from undulating, traditional clay tiles.
Those tiles, known by many names including Spanish tiles, barrel tiles, thigh tiles or tejas curvas, are an iconic feature of homes in Spain and across the Mediterranean. Their golden glow perfectly sets off the pale walls, and harmoniously ties every building into its neighbours and their surrounding scenery.
A History of the Spanish Tile
Traditionally these roof tiles would have been made from clay, shaped into a curve over a barrel or sometimes a crafter’s upper leg (hence their names). Once fired, they would be laid on a roof in alternating concave and convex positions, creating the beautiful, rippling texture of the Spanish roof we know and love.
These production methods produced significant variation in shape and size, which, although it created charm for homeowners, caused trouble for roofers. The irregularities of the tile made them difficult to lay, and vulnerable to slippage or leakage if they were not lined up perfectly.
To combat this, roofers gradually adopted new techniques, such as laying PVC plastic sheets on the roof first, then covering them with rows of tiles all facing the same way. It created a similar appearance to the traditional method, but required less skill and required fewer tiles.
Spanish Tiles Today
Traditional tiles are now much harder to come by. While it may look like every Mediterranean home has a terracotta red roof, many of these tiles will be shaped in a way to make their production and installation easier. There is nothing wrong with this; in fact, their uniformity may be a comfort during the rainier months, as they are less likely to let the rain in!
However, if you have your heart set on authentic roof tiles, you can still have them. A specialist Spanish roofing contractor will need to complete the work for you though, and many still may try and persuade you to try a modern alternative.
If the most important aspect of your roof is the way it looks, then you can get a similar effect to terracotta without any of the hassle. Synthetic composites or even metal sheeting can be styled to look just like traditional tiles from a distance, but your budget at builder will thank you for making the switch.
The Best Features of an Authentic Casa
It’s not mandatory for a Spanish home to have a red roof, and there are still plenty of ways to make your Casa feel authentic if you choose a different kind of tile. Here are our TOP TEN to help you settle in.
Of course, if you still can’t picture a Spanish home without it’s red roof, that’s understandable. Just remember the most important thing about life in Spain is that you relax, unwind, and enjoy, for a minute, simply being contento.