Terracotta tile is the most used material in France for roofing. We find three great families, each one being linked historically to the climate of the region which gave birth to it. 70% of French houses are covered with a tiled roof. Terracotta tiles offer many advantages. It is solid and durable (there are still canal tiles over 2000 years old). It is rot-proof and non-combustible. It is resistant to pollution and bad weather. Finally it adapts to all styles, traditional or contemporary. The tiles are made from clay and sand. Their maintenance is easy and inexpensive. The tile manufacturers use recyclable packaging and processes that limit cutting on construction sites while facilitating installation. In addition, the terracotta tile meets the 14 targets defined by the HQE (High Environmental Quality) approach, which guarantees the sustainable development of this sector. The quality of the tiles is governed by European standards. Flat, channel and interlocking tiles are covered by standard NF EN 1304. The quality mark "NF terracotta tiles" certifies not only the conformity of products to standards but also their suitability for use. There are three main families of tiles: channel tiles, flat tiles and interlocking tiles.
The roof tile: mainly in the South
Introduced in France around 3000 BC by Alexander the Great, this gutter-shaped tile is also called "imbrex et tegula", "boot stem", "round tile" or "Roman tile". It is particularly suitable for gently sloping roofs in sunny regions because it allows water to be evacuated quickly during heavy rains in spring. There are several dimensions but the 40 and 50 channels are the most common. The number indicates the length of the tiles in cm. The curve of the canal tiles is adapted to the region: rather tight in Charente and on the Atlantic coast, wider towards the Mediterranean. The most curved 50's are the most popular. They are found in the south, from Agen to the Italian border. The 50 curved Canal, or Gironde tiles, have a less pronounced curvature. They are found from Aquitaine to Charente. Finally, the Canal de 40 is present in the West and occasionally in the South.
Flat tiles: five important regions
In the 8th century, the canal tile was replaced in eastern and northern France by the flat tile with square end. More waterproof than the roof tile, it is better suited to steep roofs which promote the flow of rainwater and winter snow. In addition, it is particularly suitable for roofs with complex geometry: turrets, curved roofs, warheads, different slopes… The purity of the forms and its traditional appearance give all its cachet to the roof and promotes creations: mix of colors, insertion of patterns, colored and varnished tiles… If the flat tile is mainly located in the North of France, one finds in many other regions like Normandy, Burgundy, Alsace and Savoy.
It was born in the middle of the 19th century with the industrial revolution. It is commonly called "mechanical tile" because of the mechanization of the tiles. It advantageously replaces the principle of covering flat or channel tiles with molded sockets on the edges of the visible part (gauge). Thus, the gauge goes from 1/3 for flat tiles and 2/3 for channel tiles to 3/4 for mechanical tiles. These interlockings make the tiles more stable and require less material per m². These tiles therefore cost less and allow for a lighter roof. There are four families: - The "small mold" tiles : either flat in appearance, imitating flat tiles and mainly used in the north of the Loire, or in relief, the wavy straight part of which is characteristic of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region - The "large, very shapely mold" tile : its format is generous, its round curve (reminiscent of the canal tile), an easy nesting, many colors depending on the regions (more vivid in the South-West or the south of the Rhône-Alpes, subtle nuances in Vendée and on the Atlantic Coast, chanting shades in Corsica and in the Southeast). - The "low curve" tile : developed at the end of the 1970s, with only about 10 tiles per m², they correspond to a search for savings and saving in installation time. They are found in almost all regions with a strong representation in the northern and eastern half of France. - The "ribbed" tile : with central relief in the form of a rib or diamond. They date from the 19th century. They are found in the Arcachon basin and on the mills of Ile-de-France via most of the municipal schools. To learn more or to know the manufacturers: www.fftb.org