swiss roof tile water flow paths

Why I hate swiss roof tiles

…Because they consistently leak, and they are really hard to repair!

Of all the different styles and profiles of concrete and terracotta roof tiles that are laid on Sydney Roofs, the Swiss profile must be one of the most frustrating to work on. Not only is it hard to lay, it is difficult to remove and to repair as leaks appear on the roof.

… And the worst thing about these tiles – they leak and the fault is hard to find.

“Monier”  must have gone through numerous design revisions with their Swiss profile tiles – because I find so many versions on Sydney Roofs as I go about repairing leaks in the inner west and western suburbs. Some of the older versions have a really bad drainage course (underlap) design that made them prone to leakage. Some have a better designed drainage system. But the shape of the tile make it difficult to channel water away from the under-lap. Looks good – but a weak design. It got so bad that Monier discontinued their Swiss range of roof tiles. You can no longer buy any more new Monier  swiss tiles in Sydney.

The other thing is that a tiler can inadvertently chip a bit off the drainage course (underlap) as he is laying the roof and he would never know-  until the roof shows up a leak some time down the track.

Then I have to try and find it as shown on the video below.

The video will also show that leaves and debris can easily clog up the drainage course (underlap) and cause water to overflow.

So, if you have a leaking roof in Sydney, it is close to some trees and it is laid at less than 25 degrees…and you have got Swiss roof tiles, then you have a bit of a problem.

10 responses to “How to repair a leak on Swiss terracotta tiled roof in Sydney”

  1. Mal says:

    Having just bought a house with swiss terra cotta tiles, I guess I have the leaking roof to look forward to. My immediate problem is that we have quite a few trees around the house and the gutters are pretty well blocked. Called 2 blokes to give quotes to clean gutters and install bluescope gutter guard. The first quoted but the second declined saying that his product wasn’t compatible with the type of tile and could lead to leaks etc. I appreciated his honesty. Do you know if bluescope gutter guard is compatible with swiss terra cotta tiles? Or if gutter guard actually works?

  2. jackyuen says:

    I have not used a Bluescope leaf (gutter) guard before – but I presume that it is the flat perforated metal strip type that sits on top of the mouth of the gutter. Most of these type of leaf guards slope backwards because they sit on the edges of the gutter, and the typical gutter has a back lip lower than the front.
    This means that leaves still gather around the bottom edge of the tiles where they meet the leaf guard. The leaves sit on the little depression.
    We do not do a lot of leaf guard work – because there are leaf guard specialists who take care of that end of the market.
    When we do put leaf guards in, we tend to favour the mesh type leafguard. We use the product from
    I find this type of leaf guard to be quite effective (although on the expensive side).

    Do not use the plastic coiled garden variety type from the hardware stores, which sit in the gutter. They cause more blockages than no leaf guard.

    But whatever leaf guard you use – you need to clean the leaves off your roof on a regular basis. A leaking gutter (if you have eaves) will not cause leaks inside the house, but a leaking roof will.


  3. Cyrill says:

    I have a roof (15 degrees) with Swiss tiles and yes, they leak. I think that my problem is a build up of debris in the water channels. I think that this not only prevents proper flow of water, but also possibly through capillary action, water gets sucked into the debris and overflows the channels.
    I have been thinking of lifting all of the tiles, cleaning the channels and relaying the roof with new battens and sarking. Is this the sort of work you do, and if so would you quote on it?
    I live in Sydney’s northern suburbs.

  4. jackyuen says:


    Sorry for the delay in replying – I have been flat out getting roofs repaired and replaced….

    Firstly, since I am based in Strathfield, I do not cover the northern Suburbs. You can try Bob the Roofer (google him) to see if he can help out.

    Secondly, Swiss roof tiles at 15 degree pitch is a disaster waiting to happen – especially if you have overhanging trees or even trees nearby. And Swiss roof tiles have not got a good drainage path design – probably why Monier has discontinued production of swiss tiles for a few years now.

    You can remove the tiles and relay them with new sarking and battens (although if you have Monier Swiss roof tiles, you will not be able to find any spares to replace the faulty ones on your roof). Then the tiles will still leak and rot the battens in the future…. meaning that you have to carry out the same exercise all over again…

    I am biased towards metal roofs – so, I would suggest replacing the swiss tiles with a colorbond roof. You will get far better service with a colorbond roof.

    Best of luck.


  5. Lauren Mortas says:

    We will in Perth so I know you won’t be able to assist ? but this has been helpful as we have leaks everywhere but not only do we have Swiss tiles there is no sarking in the roof also ?? Would you suggest our best course of action is to just replace the roof ?

  6. Jack Yuen says:

    Hi Lauren,

    For a permanent leak-free roof, I would replace the roof with a sarked tile roof or a colorbond roof.
    It will be a waste of time trying to so anything with a leaking swiss tiled roof.


  7. Christine Cameron says:

    What solar companies will install solar panels on a roof with Swiss Terracotta tiles

  8. Jack Yuen says:

    Hi Christine,

    I have seen solar panels on swiss terracotta tiled roofs.
    But I don’t know which companies did them.
    I assumed that all solar panel companies will do it…


  9. Derick says:

    Hello jack I live on the Gold Coast in Queensland and have very much appreciated your web movies and tips. Thank you for sharing all of this knowledge. I have a Swiss tile roof originally by Wunderlich layer 30 years ago. We obviously have cyclonic rain conditions from time to time and fortunately have been lucky to avoid roof leaks..until now! Recently we have been plagued with some water leaks and after climbing onto the roof I have been able to see the short comings of the tile. Our slope for some sections of the roof is 15 degrees to boot. I concluded that the sarking has broken down which is now leading to the water leaks. The driver for the roof was the appearance and thirty years ago I did not have access to the fabulous information available on line. My options are to remove and relay at great expense or replace with new tiles. If I go for new tiles again for appearance I would like to look at half round tiles similar to what is used in France. Any thoughts on this style of tile? Metal roof would just not work with the house aesthetics regrettably. Thanks for any help you are able to offer. Regards

  10. Jack Yuen says:

    Hi Derik,
    There are no terracotta roof tiles (NSW) that I know of that looks similar to the large roll of the ‘swiss’.
    None of the concrete roof tiles approach this look. Th Monier ‘Elabana’ has the largest roll.

    ‘Modern architecture’ has meant more flat profile roof tiles is the rage (as opposed to the traditional ‘roll’).
    The problem with your roof is the pitch. The ‘large roll’ roof tiles are designed for much steeper roofs.

    If you are stuck on the large roll look, then the concrete ‘Elabana’ may be the only choice. But you must have good sarking because this tile WILL leak at 15 degrees.


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