Can You Paint Terracotta Roof Tiles?

Photo of glazed terracotta roof tiles. Can You Paint Terracotta Roof Tiles?

Terracotta roof tiles are wonderful choices for roofing, but there are some limitations when it comes to personalization. Can you paint terracotta roof tiles? Read on to find out!

You can’t paint terracotta tiles due to a glaze that they have applied during the manufacturing process. This glaze is for your tiles’ protection against the elements so that you get your best value for money. However, you won’t get any paint to adhere to the tile’s surface.

That being said, it is physically possible to paint your terracotta tiles, and you may choose to do so for cosmetic reasons — but it’s certainly not the best investment for your time or energy. Here’s what you need to know!

Do you need to paint terracotta roof tiles?

Not all roof tiles are the same, even if you focus on the medium of terracotta roof tiles. You can get glazed and unglazed roof tiles. Unglazed terracotta roof tiles have a great matte-finish aesthetic that many prefer.

However, glazed terracotta tiles are the way to go as far as resistance to weather and overall protection. Since the whole point of your roof is to protect your home, it makes sense to trust a terracotta tile that can protect it properly!

If you have glazed terracotta tiles (most commonly used), then you can’t and shouldn’t paint them, as I mentioned above and will explain in greater detail below. You can paint unglazed terracotta tiles, though. Make sure that you know which kind of tile you have, though, as they can sometimes look similar to the untrained eye!

Can you change the color of terracotta roof tiles?

Unfortunately, you can’t modify the color of terracotta roof tiles. You’ll be stuck with the color you started with for the remainder of your roof’s lifetime. This is why picking your tile supplier carefully is so essential — are you going to like your color in 5 years?

If color preference is something that you want to be a priority in your roofing material. In that case, terracotta tiles may not be what’s best for you.

Fun Fact:

Terracotta roof tiles match best with stucco, brick, and stone homes as far as the combination of the materials of the roof and house, according to Consumer Reports.

Should you paint terracotta roof tiles?

While you already understand that you shouldn’t paint terracotta roof tiles, there’s no rule that you can’t. Some will knowingly and deliberately paint their terracotta roof tiles, even when familiar with the challenges. 

The biggest reason for that is to help bump up the home’s value since the newly painted roof can impress those looking to buy it from you. However, anyone who sees that painted roof might be worried about maintenance — especially if they’re familiar with terracotta tiles and their pros and cons. 

The other main reason for painting terracotta tiles is to help improve the look of an outdated roof if you can’t afford to replace it. Of course, this hides the damage and need for repair rather than fixing the problem. But it is something to consider if this is your focus point.

Pros and cons of painting terracotta roof tiles

There are serious advantages and disadvantages to consider when considering if painting your tiles is the right thing for your specific home. Take a detailed look at these and think them over before making your decision!


  • Helps freshen up your roof at a lower cost than a replacement
  • Helps prevent mold growth
  • Helps your home stand out


  • Expensive with a negligible ROI
  • Difficult to find contractors to do the job
  • Can hide or mask damaged or brittle tiles

Many roofing contractors or other specialists often won’t even provide painting jobs for glazed terracotta tiles. These contractors earn their reputation and future sales based on how their previous jobs worked out. If a potential client was to see the faking, fading, and generally poor-looking roof on a client’s home, they’re be scared away from that contractor. 

Since contractors live and die on their reputation, most won’t take on the risk even if they get you to confirm that you understand (in writing and with a legal signature) that you are choosing a service that won’t hold up very long. Unfortunately, people judge a contractor by that shabby job, no matter what protection that contractor has. It’s just not worth the risk to their professional reputation.

Caring for terracotta roof tiles

If you’re here because you’re specifically looking for ways to help refresh the look of your terracotta roof tiles or just help make them look their best, then fear not. There’s some help and resources available to you.

Firstly, you’ll want to ensure that you have proper glazing on your tiles. This is going to be what protects them and your home from the elements. While unglazed tiles do look nice, glazed tiles are a better choice for your investment and peace of mind. You can do this regularly when the glaze starts to wear off. A reglazing session is the best way to protect your roof tiles!

The other detail to consider for proper care is washing. The Roofing Industry Alliance explains that you can use a low-pressure washer to help gently cleanse your roof tile and loosen any debris that might prematurely wear your roof tiles. It also helps get rid of lichen or mold. You can do this every year, and it’ll be a great way to protect your investment in those distinctive terracotta tiles!

While there is technically nothing stopping you from painting glazed terracotta tiles, you can’t and shouldn’t successfully paint terracotta tiles. This difficulty is due to a glaze that the tiles have applied during manufacturing.

This glaze protects your tiles from the elements, so it’s there for your roof’s protection. Yet, it makes your tile slick so that paint can’t adhere to the tile’s surface. Even so, some will choose to paint their glazed terracotta tiles for the reasons I discussed above.

Rosa Peterson

Rose is the writer and creator of Better That Home, a blog about home design and decor. Rose has been designing spaces for over 10 years and writing home design and decor for big publishers. She has been inspired by many other creatives from around the world and loves to share those inspirations with her readers. Read more about Rose here