When choosing the finishes for your home, the roofing material may be one of the most important decisions you make. The roof generally makes up more than 50% of a home’s curb appeal. And selecting the right look is equally as important as choosing a material that will stand up over decades, even centuries of weather, protecting your most valuable asset—your home.

So, why is Ludowici architectural terra-cotta the safest choice for any climate? Let’s explore how terra-cotta is weather resilient.

Performs Under Pressure

how terra-cotta is weather resilient

Private residence in St. Kitt’s utilizing Ludowici’s Colonial Shingle Tile in a Tuscany Impressionist Color. Photo courtesy of Ludowici

Through superior raw materials, profile engineering, and the manufacturing process, Ludowici tiles are made to withstand more stress than any other clay tile product on the market. The production process allows tiles to form into a dense, vitrified material with the highest strengths available—essential for peak performance.

When it comes to weather performance, not all tile is the same. The clay composition of our tile creates an ultimate breaking strength able to resist high wind stresses experienced during extreme weather events. When properly installed, Ludowici terra-cotta tiles can sustain high winds, fires, moisture, salt intrusion, and more.

Poor quality tile is a poor investment, especially for a home builder looking to make the most sustainable, durable, and energy-efficient choice. There is nothing affordable about continuously having to replace tile after a storm, and not to mention you will never be able to replace your time or your personal belongings.


how terra-cotta is weather resilient

St. Simmons Island, GA private residence utilizing Ludowici’s Century Shake Tile. Photo courtesy of Ludowici

Your roof is the most vulnerable part of your home, especially during a fire. Materials like shakes and shingles are at the highest risk of catching fire and contributing to the destruction of your home, and those around it. Many non-fire-resistant roofing products—like wood shakes, cedar shakes, synthetics, or shingles—require expensive treatments that often have a short lifespan to meet fire codes. And once having caught fire, they peel off and are lifted downwind continuing to fuel further devastation.

One of the great benefits of terra cotta tile is its inability to burn. You can fight fire from the top down with Class A fire-rated, non-combustible terra-cotta roof tiles, and underlayment from Ludowici.

Ludowici Tip: Real wood or cedar shakes have significant maintenance issues beginning shortly after installation. Wood begins to warp, twist, and curl—unlike durable Ludowici tiles that maintain their shape indefinitely. Whereas real wood shakes are flammable, creating a hazard for occupants, Ludowici’s terra-cotta shake alternatives are always made of fire-proof clay. Wood shake tiles may require intermittent underlayment at each course line. Ludowici terra-cotta shakes never do. Clay is abundant, while natural wood shakes can contribute to the destruction of old-growth forests.

High Wind Uplift Capacity

Ludowici tiles have the highest wind uplift capacity and weather performance of any other clay tile. The composition of our tiles provides high air permeability, helping relieve wind stress during extreme weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes. After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana State University reported that out of 100 buildings affected, roofs with Ludowici tiles were by far the best performing.

Low Moisture Absorbency

how terra-cotta is weather resilient

Ludowici’s interlocking tiles can be used in roofing or wall cladding applications and come with a 75-year warranty, including color. Photo courtesy of Ludowici

Moisture absorption degrades all products, and every climate poses a risk of water damage—like areas of heavy rainfall, exposure to coastal sea salt, or the experience of freeze-thaw cycles causing structural stress. Ludowici tiles have the lowest water absorption rate of anyone else on the market.

Ludowici’s moisture absorbency is Grade 1—with Grade 1 ranging from 1% minimum to 6% maximum. Our tiles have absorption rates of less than 2%, ranking far ahead of the competition’s 6% to 15% average.

Why Low Moisture Absorbency Matters:

• Helps maintain breaking strength
• Prevents salt intrusion
• Reduced chances of mold and mildew growth
• Low impact freeze-thaw cycles

Ludowici Tip: In the winter months, tiles are exposed to colder elements. When temperatures reach below freezing then climb back above, moisture collected in tiles repeatedly undergoes freeze-thaw cycles. Over time, tiles with higher moisture absorption rates are subjected to larger mechanical stress, and eventually crack or spall, leaving you forced to replace the unsightly results. You can rest assured with Ludowici as our tiles always exceed Grade 1 requirements for freeze-thaw environments.

Doesn’t Require Sealants

Private residence in Maui, utilizing Ludowici’s Classic 16″ Interlocking Terra-Cotta Roof Tile. Photo courtesy of Ludowici

Thanks to our low moisture absorption rate, Ludowici tiles never require sealants or additives to enhance their performance. Most terra-cotta tiles are often dipped during the manufacturing process or sealed after installation in order to prevent water absorption. Eliminating the additional cost of sealants saves owners money and the headache of inevitable performance issues, like damage and discoloration caused by UV rays.


Salt from coastal air can be devastating to building products—especially with substandard terra-cotta not designed to prevent it. In a more porous tile, salt crystals infiltrate open pockets that begin to expand and contract. Once sea salt permeates the clay body of a tile, it will fail. With salt air being able to travel well over a mile inland from the coastline, you need the clay body of a Ludowici tile that is made to resist such complications. Because Ludowici terra-cotta tiles have dense clay bodies and a very low absorption rate, they are able to withstand salt intrusion.

Algae, Mold, and Mildew-Resistant

Private residence in Seagrove Beach, FL utilizing Ludowici’s Century Shake Tile in Earth Gray. Photo courtesy of Ludowici

Roof tiles are susceptible to mildew, algae, and moss, all of which require professional cleaning on a regular basis. Yet, while many claim there is no known manufacturing process to prevent this condition, we know better. High-quality tiles with smooth surfaces and very low water absorption rates, like those produced by Ludowici, dramatically limit mildew, algae, and moss growth by preventing moisture from entering the clay body of the tile in the first place. Virtually maintenance-free, our tiles last longer and significantly reduce the need for chemical cleaning.

Ludowici Tip: The moisture absorption rate of a Ludowici tile is typically 10 to 15 times lower than that of new concrete tiles. Concrete’s high moisture absorption rate can lead to significant mold and mildew build-up. Power-washing to remove algae, mold, and mildew build-up only adds moisture to be absorbed.

Made from the earth and creating zero waste, terra-cotta is the premier choice in green and sustainable building products. Choosing this natural, environmentally friendly material for your roof allows for a smaller footprint—which is one step in the right direction. Yet, the benefits of terra-cotta roofing reach far beyond its environmental sustainability. Our terra-cotta tiles provide peace of mind that your roof will perform under pressure to weather any storm.

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gb&dPRO members are recognized experts in their fields and contribute opinion columns as one of their member benefits. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and may not reflect the view of gb&d. We are committed to a diversity of voices advocating for high-performing, sustainable built environment practices. We’d like to hear what you think about this article or any of our other coverage. Send us an email at [email protected].