Can You Pressure Wash a Tile Roof?

Pressure washers are powerful pieces of equipment that can clean stubborn surfaces like asphalt and concrete. But what about delicate areas around the house that require special attention? This brings us to our question of the day – can you pressure wash a tile roof?

No, you should avoid pressure washing a tile roof as this can cause irreversible damage. Older tiles can become brittle with age and crack with aggressive nozzle attachments.

The best solution is to soft wash your tile roof with lower amounts of water pressure. This approach will clean your roof in the safest and most efficient way possible.

How Pressure Washing Damages Tile

Before we talk about the correct way to clean a tile roof, it’s important to cover why you should avoid using a pressure washer.

Even if your think high amounts of water pressure is the only way to clean a roof covered with mold and mildew, it will cause more harm than good.

Removes Sealants

Tile is just one essential part to keeping the inside of your home dry. There are a variety of products available that can strengthen the tile with a breathable and waterproof coating.

When using a standard pressure washer wand attachment on these areas, it can remove this layer of sealant. As a result, your roof won’t be as waterproof as it once was.

Leaves Streaks & Lines

One of the most important things about pressure washing is understanding the nozzle attachments. A 0-degree nozzle will be the most aggressive and will concentrate a high amount of pressure in one area.

The problem is that this will leave permanent etching on your tile roof. These streaks and lines can be avoided by following the soft wash method.

Damages Tile

Even though streaks and lines can damage tile, it’s not the worst thing that can happen. When working on an older roof, there’s a change the pressure washer can chip and break brittle tile.

This is most common with aggressive nozzles, but the takeaway is that too much pressure is a bad thing. All you need is less pressure paired with a cleaning detergent.

How to Soft Wash with a Pressure Washer

The process of soft washing involves a combination of water and a powerful cleaning detergent.

Instead of focusing on using high amounts of pressure, the idea is to get just enough water to rinse the solution off of the house. This is ideally the best and safest way to soft pressure wash a tile roof.

1. Protect the Landscaping

Before jumping on a ladder and going up to the roof, it helps to clear out the area you will be working in. You want to avoid tripping over any outdoor tools, furniture, or children’s toys.

Move all of these items to a safe location so you don’t damage them. You will also need to protect the landscaping from any cleaning detergents. Most soft washing soaps will be harmful to any shrubs, flowers, and other plant life.

In order to avoid killing these plants, you will need to over-water them before soft washing. This will prevent them from dying if any cleaning solution were to drip on to them. You could also protect the landscaping with plastic tarps.

2. Clean the Ridges First

This may come down to personal preference, but it’s easier to clean the ridges of the roof, before moving on to other areas. It can be challenging to wash this section of the roof, which is why cleaning it first can help.

And if you own a soft washing business, this area of the roof is most exposed and it’s what the customer will see first. Tile ridges can also become caked with the most amount of dirt and mildew.

So, you can apply one coating before moving on the the rest of the roof, and return to spray a second coating if necessary. This is also a good time to clean any of the valleys and chimney flashing. If there are any skylights you can spray these edges down as well.

3. Follow a Pattern

It doesn’t matter if you’re soft washing or pressure washing, following a pattern will produce outstanding results. You don’t want to stand in one place and try to spray down as much surface area as possible.

This method is lazy and the results will be sloppy. Following a spray pattern is all about moving with the spray wand. Once the ridges have been washed, walk back and forth on the tile roof.

You can work on small sections at a time in order to make things easier. You also want to avoid dragging the hose all over the roof multiple times. Following a consistent spray pattern will produce a clean roof in an efficient way. The results will certainly show for it.

Tips for Soft Washing Tile

Try different nozzles – Standard pressure washing nozzles are normally straight by design. But these attachments won’t work very well when you are cleaning a roof. Due to the fact the you will be standing on the roof, a 40-degree nozzle is recommended. This tip will allow you to spray down the surface, without having to maneuver in an awkward manner.

Apply multiple coatings – If you’re new to soft washing, you will quickly notice that some roofs will be dirtier than others. For extremely dirty roofs, you might need to apply 2-3 coatings to remove the mold and mildew. Even though this will take more time, it will produce better looking results. With more experience you will be able to tell how many coats a roof needs by looking at it.

Look for runoff – To further expand on the tip above, the more cleaning solution you use means the more runoff there will be. Of course, all houses have gutters which should be able to catch all of the excess detergent. The problem arises when gutters are clogged, or missing in some sections on the house. Look out for these problem areas.

Be aware of your surroundings – Anytime you’re working on a roof it’s important to be as safe as possible. Never work in heavy rain or wind, as these weather conditions can make your work environment unsafe. When cleaning near roof edges always keep an eye on your footing. And make sure your ladder is always properly secured before using it.


Hopefully this article has taught you that pressure washing a tile roof should be avoided at all costs. This machine is far too powerful for tile and can cause irreversible damage to this material.

Pressure washing can remove sealants, cause etching, and in some cases break brittle tile. The safer approach is to soft wash a tile roof. This term can be confusing, because you can still soft wash with a pressure washer.

The biggest difference is the amount of water being dispersed from the nozzle. Soft washing emphasizes soap combined with low water pressure to effectively clean tile and other fragile surfaces.

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