How to Fit Ridge Tiles

It was way back when the Romans first landed that we on the British Isles got a glimpse of tiles and ridges, but it wasn’t until the 13th century they become a staple across our entire country. Roof tiles are durable, resistant to fire and high winds and even recyclable at the end of a long-life. Of course, regardless of whether they are made of clay, slate or concrete no ridge can last forever and this is doubly true for the mortar that keeps older ridges in place.

Eventually, ridge tiles will start to wear down, crack and come loose as their mortar weakens. You may find this happening to your own roof right now; in which case you’ll need to start thinking about removing the old tiles and either re-fitting them or installing a new ridge all together – perhaps even a more modern, dry-fix alternative.

What Types of Ridge Tiles are Available?

Good question. Whilst all ridge tiles are designed to connect the two planes of your roof and deflect the rain, there are different types to suit different styles of home. Knowing which is best for yours is the first step towards getting appropriate replacements.

Angled Ridges

These have a more geometric design than other types of ridge tiles, ideal for homes more contemporary and minimalist. They are well suited for flat tile and slate roofs and come in capped or legged versions for a traditional looking finish to your ridge line or pitches between 30 – 60 degrees respectively

Half Round Ridges

The most common and popular style of ridge, these semi-circled tiles are perfect for a wide variety of different styles incl. Plain, pantile and interlocking. Thanks to their popularity you’ll find them available in a wide array of different colours to suit almost any design of roof.

Mono Ridge

As the name would suggest, these types of ridge tiles have a flat surface on side, designed for use along mono styles of roof. That being said, they are not all the same with both half-round and angled version available.

How to Remove Old or Damaged Ridges

If you are looking to install or re-bed a ridge on top of a pre-existing building, then then first you’ll need to do is to remove all the old ridge tiles and mortar. Naturally this will mean working at height and so it is always best to familiarize yourself with HSE’s regulations and safety guidelines.

As a snapshot, this will mean making sure all your equipment (ladders, scaffolding etc.) is suitable, stable and regular checked for damage. You’ll also want to make sure that you, yourself are wearing all necessary PPE and employ some manner of protection against debris falling from the roof whilst you are working.

Of course, if at any point you are unsure of yourself or feel uneasy about working at height, we would always recommend you consult with a professional tradesperson who will not only be able to remove your old ridge but install (or re-install) your new one as well. That being said, let’s take a look at just how this old ridge can be removed safely.

Identifying Old Ridge Tiles & Mortar

Speaking in general terms you can expect a ridge tile to last for around 40 years before it will need to be removed and the mortar cleared. If left alone, water may be able to ingress into your loft space passed this degraded mortar at which point you could be facing the costs of removing rot and mould as well as just your ridge.

Now, the majority of us won’t know the exact age of our tiles – especially so if it’sa  home you’ve just recently moved into. However, there are some key things you can keep an eye out for. The most obvious of these will be broken tiles – not just ridge tiles mind you but any broken or missing tiles will be an indication that the whole roof may be approaching the end of its life. A great way to determine this is by getting into the highest most room of your home and turning off all the lights. If light is still coming down, that’ll mean there are cracks or holes that will need to be addressed.

You may also want to take a look in your gutters for any debris that may have fallen from your tiles. A small number of sand-like granules can be expected but if you notice an increase or otherwise large portion of residue this can be a sign that your roof doesn’t have long left – it may even be a case that both your tiles and ridge will have to be replaced.

Removing Old Ridge Tiles

Once you’ve determined that your ridge has to be removed, you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools for the job. In this case a hammer, screwdriver and stiff bristled brush. Again, make sure you have taken all consideration for your health and safety when working at height and, if possible, try and have a helper on hand.

On the top side of your roof, you’ll want to look out for any large gaps between the edge of your ridge tiles and the mortar bed. When you find these, you can simply push your screwdriver in through the gaps with your hammer until you have enough of a hold to gently pry the tiles up. You can then pry away at any loose bits of mortar left under the tile and brush away the excess. You may find that particularly stubborn pieces may need to be sanded down with a grinder and diamond blade. Either way, make sure to keep a hold of any large pieces so that they can be disposed of properly.

How to Install Mortar-Bedded Ridge Tiles

These days you won’t see a lot of new roofs with mortar bedded ridges. This is for a number of reasons but primarily it is an issue of safety and longevity. Mortar crumbles over time, it will be the reason why your ridge might need re-bedding and can even put those below the roof at risk if the tiles become loose. If that weren’t enough just getting the mortar onto the roof can be a difficult job in of itself. Still, for those looking to retain that traditional aesthetic, it can be a viable option.

Step 1: Measure Your Ridge

A simple place to start you’ll need to know exactly how many ridge tiles you’ll need as well whether you’ll need to cut any down to size. If you are re-bedding your original tiles this shouldn’t be an issue, however some new tiles may have to be cut where two different designs of ridge (such as horizontal and hip ridges) meet to ensure there is a roughly 10mm gap for the cement joint.

Step 2: Mix & Lay Your Mortar

When mixing you’ll want a ratio of roughly 1 to 3 parts of cement and sharp sand, which can be spread across the tops of your tiles and slates for an overlap of approx. 75mm. If your tiles are deep profiled, the recesses can be built further with small slips of flat tile (bedded in mortar) after which you can lay the main mortar bed over top. Top Tip: When working you should wet the top of your roof to ensure the mortar does not lose too much moisture before your ridge is lain.

Step 3: Lay Your Ridge Tiles

Each ridge tile should have another bed of mortar spread at its end to serve as a joint, after which you can wet the bottom of the tile and gently push it into place. Use a trowel to remove any excess and smooth out the edges. Continue this across the entire run of the roof.

How to Install Mechanical or Dry-Fix Ridges

Now for the far simpler method, Dry-Fixed Ridges require zero mortar instead being installed with a series of mechanical fixings. Most of the time, these ridges will be available in full kits containing all the brackets, screws, clips and unions you’ll need (Hip ridges will have separate kits or add-ons, so take care not to confuse the two).

Step 1: Installing Ridge Batten Brackets

The exact method of fixing can change slightly depending on the style of your roof, but ultimately (regardless of whether it’s a traditional or trussed roof) they should be adhered to the rafters or trusses. Start as close to the edge of your roof as you can, move the tiles to one side and then locate the rafter or truss with your hands.

Once done, mark this clearly and leaver up roof batten with a pry bar to give you clear access (you may want to use a cutting tool here as well to free the batten from any fixings underneath it). Bend the brackets under these loosened battens, ensure they are sitting on the rafters and then adjust for height as needed before fix with galvanised nails. This should be done through the brackets and roofing underlay. Top Tip: When adjusting for height, you can refer to the kits instructions which should have recommendations for you. Be aware that there are a number of different ways to affix your brackets, so if you are unsure consider consulting a professional.

Step 2: Fit Your Batten

With all the brackets in place, you can now install your ridge batten. Do your best to make these a quality graded batten, as it will be receiving a fair number of fixings. Cut it to the required length and then place it across the battens on your roof, leaving around 100mm free on either end. Once in place, secure it through the brackets with fixings included as per the kit's instructions.

Step 3: Fit the Ridge Roll

Make sure all your tiles are back in place and free of dust before rolling out the ventilated ridge roll with its centre across the top of the ridge batten. It can hang off the end of the roof, if need be, as long as it doesn’t do so too far that it can’t be capped with your stop end ridge piece. As your rolling the ridge out, nail into place using galvanised clout nails. If you’ve had to make a join in your batten at any point, make sure to overlap the roll at the same point as well.

Once the roll is adhered all the way across, pull back the tape from the butyl adhesive on either side of the roll and form into the gaps in your tiles. We recommend doing this gradually to ensure the adhesive doesn’t stick to any other elements of your roof.

Step 4: Fit your Ridge Tiles

With your roll fixed, next comes the simple job of affixing your tiles using the included ridge unions. These take the place of mortar and as such you will still need a gap in-between each tile to fit them. Slid the union into place, push your tile flush with it and then secure with as many union clamps as recommend by the manufacturer. These will typically just clip into place with the top screw clamp being mechanically fixed. Do this across the length and your ridge, making sure to finish the run with a stop end where necessary. Top Tip: Be careful not to overtighten your screw clamp as this could make them more susceptible to cracking the next time someone has to work with them.

Any Questions?

If you have any other questions or need a hand picking out the right products for your next project, feel free to give us a call on 01295 565 565 or chat to us online. Our award-winning team will be happy to help.