Terra Cotta Roof Tiles

In the land of porcelain it has still been easy to get my terra cotta fix. A quick look out most high rise windows shows that Shanghai is full of terra cotta roof tiles. The mold that covers their surfaces forms asymmetrical patterns that are beautiful. These pictures are taken looking out at the roof line from the third story of the studio. I live in the French Concession, which is know for its European feel. The streets are lined with napoleon trees and cafes. One of the great luxuries of the neighborhood is its slow redevelopment. Old three story homes still stand here. Sky scrapers are moving in, but they don't dominate the street scapes. For a city of 20,000,000 it is surprising how much distance separates the major skyscrapers. The density of the streets tends to stop five stories up.

From the little research I have done (a.k.a 10 minutes of web surfing that can hardly be called research) it seems that the earliest Chinese roof tiles were made around 3,000 BC. For an old technology its surprising that clay roof tiles naturally meet current green efficiency standards. According to Dr. William Miller of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “The clay roof tile showed up to 70% heat reduction entering the house as compared to roofs with asphalt shingles. Thermal mass, along with solar reflectance and recyclable properties, make clay roof tile an environmentally-friendly product. After a long and useful life, clay roof tiles are harmless to the environment and can be recycled for new applications.” Sounds like another score for ceramic technology.

For a snippet from a white paper called Cool Clay Tile Roof: Steeped in Tradition - Engineered for the Future by Lyla Lawry Click here.


  1. Yup. Roof tiles like that are both functional and beautiful. If fitted on the right kind of house, terracotta roof tiles can increase the value of a home.

  2. When a family moves in a house with terracotta roof tiles, they tend to keep the roof for as long as it can serve them well. One of the reasons they choose terracotta among other types of roofing materials is because it has a long life-cycle. It has been proven over the years, and your research is just one of the many proven facts about this roofing material.

  3. Having terracotta tiles in our home was indeed a very good choice. Though it’s kinda hard to find a store where you can buy cheaper tiles, it was nice to see that our new home is topped with this awesome roofing material. I decided to have terracotta tiles since I really love Shanghai and I love to know that the pictures posted here are from my beloved place. :)

    Kermit Lukacs