How do you install a curved roof like Quintain House?

Roofing contractor Andy Rowlands had to hand cut almost 60,000 Acme double camber clay plain tiles to create the award-winning, dramatic curved roof of Quintain House. Here, Andy gives his top tips for creating the perfect clay roof.

Andy’s installation tips:

  • Provide a designated cutting area with adequate dust suppression, usually water – if you’re cutting a lot of tiles, it makes it much easier and safer to have one area that is set aside with the right equipment and PPE for cutting.
  • Preparation is everything when working with clay plain tiles, you need to plan out the roof carefully in order to reduce the amount of cutting you need to do. Time spent at the beginning will prevent hassle later on. Also consider using tile and a half as well as standard size tiles, to give you more flexibility when setting out the roof.
  • Creating curves I get asked a lot about how we created the curved roof on Quintain House. We used a double camber tile as it lends itself more to the curved roof because of its latitudinal camber. I would say though that it takes many years of roofing expertise and craftsmanship to be able to create a curved roof of this nature!
  • Battens - The ‘snake-like’ shape of the roof at Quintain meant we couldn’t use a traditional approach to battening. So we had to precisely cut each batten to give us the ability to curve and bend it. Entire lengths of batten were reduced from 25mm thickness down to 13mm/12mm/9mm/8mm to promote the bending effect. We then layered the ‘thinner’ battens on top of each other to provide the necessary height required.
  • Waterproofing – The Quintain roof had a pitch of just 21 degrees in some areas which posed challenges when it came to waterproofing. Where the roof fell outside BS 5534 parameters, we had to create an EPDM rubber gutter to channel the water to the lowest point of the curve to allow the water back over the tile and then make its way down the roof in the traditional manner.
  • Check manufacturer guidelines – Manufacturers will not usually guarantee roof coverings fixed outside of their guidelines, so speak to the architect or designer if you think there will be an issue.

Advice from Marley:

  • Use the right tools - As Andy has shown, cutting clay plain tiles doesn’t need to be difficult, as long as you use the right tools. While the traditional method is a scribe and hammer, or pincers, you can use power tools that are specifically designed for a hard material, such as a diamond tipped masonry disc cutter. These must be used with appropriate dust suppression.
  • PPE is paramount - If you need to cut tiles, do it in a well ventilated area to avoid the inhalation of dust. Avoid dust inhalation by using cutting equipment fitted with dust extraction or suppression and always wear goggles, protective clothing, ear defenders and an approved respirator when mechanically cutting tiles.
  • Get the right blend of tiles – When using clay plain tiles, we recommend taking tiles and mixing them up from at least three pallets. This will enhance the appearance of a roof and add a charm and character you would expect from a high quality clay roof.
  • Think about the fittings - Purpose made fittings will ensure a stunning finish and also reduce the time spent making a site formed mitred hip, for example. We offer a range of ridge and hip options, and also valley tiles, arris hips and bonnets which enhance the visual appearance of a clay tiled roof.
  • Valleys and bonnets - If you’re going to use valley or arris hip tiles, check the specification as ours come in a variety of internal angles to suit various roof pitches. Getting the correct product first time reduces delays on site and ensures a perfect finish, so ask our Technical Advisory team if you’re unsure which one you need.