In Arizona, the accessibility of clay, and the scorching sun, make clay tiling the standard material for roofing shingles. Indeed these brownish maroon Spanish tiles are ubiquitous, and it is not uncommon for visitors to laude their architectural beauty. The process of hanging Spanish tiles is similar to other shingle processes, following the principle of working from the bottom up. However, a major difference is that nails are affixed to the roof, on which shingles are hung in parallel rows. The advantage of Spanish clay tiles is of course aesthetic virtues and resistance to the desert climate; the only shortcoming is that they shatter easily.
The earliest known use of clay tiles dates back to the Greeks of the third millennium BC. An excavation in Lerna, Greece uncovered thousands of terracotta tiles that were clearly utilized for roofing. Also, an excavation in Corinth, Greece uncovered tiles corresponding to the famous temples of Apollo and Poseidon. Early tiles were extremely heavy, and most likely expensive due to the arduous labor required to cut a slate of terracotta tiles. Consequently, clay style shingles were reserved for aristocrats and public monuments. Of course this persisted for centuries, including the renaissance. Dutch and English royalty tiled their palaces and mansions with clay shingles for their fire resistant quality. Indeed, clay tiles are almost impervious to fire, which makes them an ideal choice in a dry desert climate where fire can be devastating.
As previously mentioned, the only real disadvantage of clay shingles is their propensity to shatter easily. However, this is only really an issue during installation—we advise homeowners to stay off their clay roofs for safety reasons. A lesser roofer may clumsily break these tiles and pass the bill along to the customer. We at Gryphon roofing emphasize extreme caution when caring for Spanish shingles, and pride ourselves in creating a beautiful covering that attests to the beauty of the valley.
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