There is an unmistakeable beauty about traditional clay peg tiles.
The tiles are handmade and no two tiles are absolutely identical. These subtle differences give the roof an almost undulating appearance with variable shadow lines from one row to the next. It is completely different to modern machine made clay tiles. A modern clay tiled roof will sit perfectly flat. Peg tile roofs do not and the undulation is not only perfectly normal and to be expected, it is also an inherent architectural beauty that is important to each property.
These tiles are called peg tiles because they were traditionally hung on battens by oak pegs of about an inch (25mm) long. These tiles are not nailed to the battens. They hang on the battens by their self-weight. This simple method means that they can be replaced individually without the need for complicated extended repair projects that would otherwise be needed.
Peg tiles are inherently fragile and will be susceptible to frost damage. They are especially susceptible to damage caused by nail corrosion. After the use of oak pegs phased out, there was a use of plain steel nails. These nails will rust, leading to expansion of the steel from the corrosion, the edges of the tiles will crack and the nails can ultimately totally fail leading to tiles slipping off. Traditionally, underfelt was not used. Once a hole forms, it should be repaired immediately. A small hole from one tile can rapidly increase to a large hole as the exposed battens will decay and more tiles will slip off..
Following the use of plain steel nails, galvanised nails were used. It is now more common to find that alloy pins or copper nails are used.
The most common problems found with clay peg tile roofs are from frost damage and nail corrosion. When this happens, the individual damaged tile should be replaced without delay. It is very easy to do, taking merely a few seconds. Safe access is often the most expensive part of the cost. The tiles are not expensive. Using salvaged, previously used, tiles will often allow for a blended colour that means they are hard to see. Brand new tiles tend to be quite bright until they have mellowed after a few winters weathering.