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Historic Cuban Tile

Posted on 11/25/2020 to Researching Your Home

Historic Cuban Tile

One of the most visible key elements of a Mediterranean Revival Architecture Historic Home is the Historic Cuban Barrel Tile and because without it, a historic house can seem stripped from its roots.  It is the one single element that has a history of its own.  It is a handmade or hand processed barrel natural clay tile, that was either made in Cuba prior to the imposition of the U.S. Embargo, or manufactured in 18th Century Spain, salvaged from buildings in Cuba and imported to the United States during the 1920s and 30s. 

It is important to identify the original elements of a structure in order to know how well preserved the property has been through the years when buying a Miami Beach historic piece of real estate.  Most buyers of historic properties will look for properties that have maintained its historic integrity or properties that have the potential to be restored. 

Historic Cuban tile is one of those elements that are cherished by the 'historic community', but don't be surprised if finding a home with Cuban tile may mean that the roof is not water tight and a new roof may be necessary.  There are several steps that must be taken to replace a roof with Historic Cuban Tile.

  1. Identify that a property does in fact have Historic Cuban Barrel Tile.  A lot of these tiles have an embossed identification mark usually located on the convex side at the wide taper end of the tile.
  2. Once tile is identified as historic and property needs to be re-roofed, all means should be taken to salvage the tile.
  3. Historic Cuban tile can then be mixed with modern hand-made tile, where the historic tile is used in caps, rather than pans to take full advantage of the visible portion of the new roof.

Take note, if Historic Cuban Tile was not found on the property, there are many ways of building a historically appropriate roof. 

Historic Cuban Tile can be purchased, or when that is not financially possible, there are manufacturers of hand-made barrel tile that can be used to achieve the original look of the roof.   You can also choose to use roofers that specialize in historic roofs, not only in salvaging original historic barrel tile, but doing installations that are historically appropriate like reapplying the tile correctly, and using double caps and/or pans on the edge of the roof-line.

The overall look of a roof with Historic Cuban Tile is that of an 'aged' or 'informal' nature.  These tiles, because of their porous clay material will accumulate mold and pressure cleaning is not recommended. 

In an effort to appreciate our historic homes and architecture, it is important to educate our selves on the materials, the process of construction as well as the history behind these.

If you are looking to buy, sell, or have any questions regarding Miami Historic Homes, call 305-986-7041 or fill out the contact form. We would love to connect with you regarding your interest in Historic homes and we specialize in renovating, researching, purchasing or selling Historic Homes in South Florida.

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