Roofing universes

Tiles are a cost-efficient, aesthetic and durable solution, so it is not surprising that they are, now more than ever, the most popular material for roofing. Dimos provides the tooling and fasteners needed to work with this classic roofing material.

A short history
of tiles

Tiles are a small roof element, usually made of clay, but they can also be made of metal, wood, slate, and much more recently even concrete.

Terracotta tiles, made from moulded and baked clay, first appeared in ancient times in the Mediterranean basin. Not only had the ancient Greeks already mastered the manufacturing process, but tiled roofs were also used throughout the Roman Empire in regions where sedimentary rocks were abundant enough to provide the raw material.

After experiencing a decline in popularity after the fall of the Roman Empire, the use of tiles made a come-back in the Middle Ages, in towns ravaged by large fires encouraged by roofs made of straw or wood. New forms of tiles started to appear in different regions. At this time, tiles were still being made using traditional techniques by tile makers.

The Gilardoni brothers revolutionised the manufacture of tiles in 1841, introducing interlocking tiles designed to facilitate laying, as they no longer needed to be fixed to the roof one by one. This marked the beginning of the industrialised production of tiles in tileries, hence the name “mechanical tile”.

Nowadays, terracotta tiles are still very popular, both on new and renovated properties, thanks to their availability in a very broad range of shapes, colours and materials. The market is also being driven by innovations such as transparent tiles, solar tiles, or tiles capable of passively cooling buildings by absorbing or reflecting part of the sun’s energy.

of tiles

Tiles are popular for several reasons:

  • Tiles come in a wide variety of shapes, colours and sizes to suit all tastes
  • It is a 100% natural product that is rot-proof and incombustible, and is very durable if properly maintained.
  • Tiles do not need to be laid on a steep slope, and are suitable for sunny or wet & windy climates.
  • They are a cost-effective solution, because they are relatively simple to lay.

types of tiles

There are numerous types of tiles which vary from region to region: here are some of the most familiar types.

Channel, curved or hollow tiles

Based on the Roman tile which first appeared in the 11th century, curved times are the oldest ‘modern’ type of tile. Legend has it that the clay was curved by directly moulding it over a thigh (ideally a woman’s). This type of tile is very common in the South of France, where it also goes by the name of ’round tile’, ‘half-cylinder tile’; large format tiles are also called ‘boot shaft tiles’.

Channel tiles are half-round, and have a smaller diameter at one end like a wedge, so they lock together more easily when slid into each other. Tile makers have subsequently added lugs to facilitate interlocking.

Flat tiles

Flat tiles, which are commonly used in northern France and the Paris region, are suitable for roofs with slopes over 40° /10.07:12. They can also be seen in England, America and Australia.

They were once made by hand, causing them to be irregular in size, texture, colour, but which added character to the roof. In France, they still come in a variety of shapes and colours depending on the region (e.g. the Burgundy tile is glazed and diamond shaped, while the Beauvoise tile is a flat tile with a double interlocking joint).

The flat tile was initially designed with a lug to wedge the tile against the roofing batten. There are also more advanced mechanical models.

The interlocking tile

Developed in the 19th century, the interlocking or mechanical tile was a flat tile equipped with a system to slot the tiles into each other. This system reduces laying time and the number of tiles needed, which in turn reduces cost, and means less weight on the framing. However, this system makes the roof less waterproof when tiles are missing or broken.

Subsequently, interlocking systems were produced using different sizes of moulds and curves (e.g. Romanesque tiles). Interlocking joints are usually double, but can be single or triple as needed.

Subsidiary tiles

Subsidiary tiles are specific tiles used for roof finishing, such as ridge tiles, edge tiles, ventilation tiles, glass tiles, corner tiles, and hip tiles, etc.


Tile laying techniques obviously vary greatly depending on a whole number of factors: the type of tile being laid, the region, the type of frame, wind exposure, the slope of the roof, etc.

Laying tiles involves a lot of roof preparation work: installation of a vault or battens, and underlayment if necessary. It is also important to think about ventilation to ensure proper air circulation and to increase the frame’s durability.

Depending on the roof pitch, the type of tiles, and wind exposure, a roofer may have to fasten all or only some of the tiles, e.g. only the edge, ridge, sewer tiles, etc. or only some of the tiles on the sloping section, or all of the tiles.

Tiles can be secured using nails, screws, hooks or grout. Dimos is the inventor of the X-Tile® system, and offers a complete range of tile fasteners.

Discover our tiles hooks

a tiled roof

Over time, tiled roofs can become covered with moss and lichens. This not only reduces the aesthetic appeal of your roof, but can also damage it. To prevent this, it is essential to carry out maintenance on your roof on a regular basis, i.e. about once or twice a year.

This is done in 3 steps:

  • Clean the surface with a pressure washer
  • Treat the surface with a moss killer
  • Apply a water-repellent coating to re-waterproof the roof
Discover our Surface treatment products

Tile roofing

Tiling a roof mainly requires tools to prepare the roof framing, and to fasten the roof elements. It also requires tools for cutting the tiles, such as wet or dry tile saws, tile cutting pliers and tile nippers. As the materials are heavy, it is worth investing in a material hoist.

In terms of safety, for low slope roofs, guardrails are the easiest option. For steeper roofs to be covered, for example, with flat tiles, it makes sense to use a suspended scaffolding solution.