5 Facts to Know About Your Slate Roof (What to Expect)

Slate is one of the best materials on the market for roofing. It’s dependable, long-lasting, and aesthetically pleasing. However, just like any other material, slate will wear out eventually and need to be replaced. Additionally, over the course of its life, a slate roof may need to be repaired. Tiles can break, your roof can suffer storm damage, or it might simply be showing premature signs of aging. Visit our website at theneworleansroofers.com for more information.

With that said, slate is a durable and dependable choice to protect your home for many years to come. Here are 5 things you should know about slate roof repair before calling your local roof repair company.

What is Slate?

Slate is a naturally occurring metamorphic rock found mostly in the eastern United States, with Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania being key producers. it has a property called fissility, which means that it breaks into thin sheets when struck the right way. Don’t be fooled- this breakage does not mean that the rock is weak. On the contrary, the thin sheets it breaks into are highly durable. 

Slate has been used for a wide variety of purposes throughout human history. Early schoolhouses used writing slates to teach pupils. Some gravestones are made of slate as well, but the most common applications today are flooring and roofing.

Slate Tiles: A Great Choice for Roofing

Slate’s durability and resistance to cracks or scratches makes it a good choice for flooring. What about roofing? Slate tiles can be found topping homes all over America, but is it the top choice of roofing material?

Slate is a durable, dependable, and aesthetically pleasing type of roof- so much so that manufacturers will often design asphalt shingles to mimic the look of slate tiles. It is also set up perfectly to handle the elements. Slate comes from naturally occurring stone, so over time it has developed a resistance to weather extremes such as wind, heavy rain, hail, and even fire. 

Most roofing materials have a relatively short lifespan, needing to be replaced every few decades. However, slate tiles can last up to 100 years!

Signs of a Problem With Your Slate Roof

Slate’s durability does not mean that it’s invincible, and at times you may need to consider slate roof repair if your roof sustains damage or begins to wear out. Age and weather, among other things, can damage your roof and leave your home vulnerable to the elements. Here are a few signs that your slate roof might need some attention.

  • Delamination. Delamination is what happens when slate roofing tiles begin to age and wear out. Since slate is fissible and breaks into thin sheets when struck, the layers of the rock will begin to seperate when it ages. If you notice any peeling or separation on your slate tiles, be aware that you may need to call a roofing contractor in your area.
  • Cracked tiles. A cracked slate roofing tile may not seem noteworthy at first. However, when it comes to your roof, a small crack can become a big deal. You may end up with leaks inside your home if you ignore cracks in roofing tiles.
  • Cracked or damaged flashing. The flashing is the seal in between the roof joists, intended to be further protection against water damage. Naturally, if this part of your roof gets damaged, you lose that protection and can wind up with even more problems on your hands.

How Does Slate Roof Repair Work?

There are a few different methods of slate roof repair. The main idea is to replace affected slates, rather than patch them up. Before hiring someone to perform your slate roof repair, you’ll need to make sure that they are qualified to work on slate roofs. Not every contractor is, and bad work can leave you with even more headaches.

There are two main methods of replacing slate roof tiles: the nail and bib method and the slate hook method. 

Nail and Bib

The nail and bib method uses a galvanized spiral nail and a small sheet of metal flashing to secure a new tile. The roofer first slides the new tile up under the existing tile. They will then hammer the nail down between the tiles above the replacement one, then make a few small cuts in the metal sheet. Making these small cuts is called barbing and it provides something for the tile to “grab,” preventing it from slipping down off the roof. The metal sheet is then slid up past the nail and the tile is effectively held in place.

Slate Hook

The other method of replacing slate roof tiles is by using a slate hook. A slate hook is a piece of stainless steel that is shaped a bit like the number 5. The roofer working on your slate roof will hammer it down and then carefully slide the new tile up under existing tiles above it. The tile will then rest on the slate hook, which will stay in your roof permanently. 

Both of these methods are acceptable to replace the slate tiles on your roof, but most roofers prefer slate hooks. The stainless steel prevents rusting, and the shape of the hook keeps the slate tile firmly in place.

Slate Roof Replacement: When is it Necessary?

Through the lifespan of a slate roof can be over 100 years with proper maintenance, nothing lasts forever. Eventually, your slate roof will need to be torn off and replaced- but how do you know when it’s time to tear off the old and welcome in the new?

If the roofing company inspecting your roof finds broken, cracked, or otherwise damaged tiles all over the roof, it’s likely time to look into replacement. Usually, slate roofs are repaired by replacing a tile at a time. There comes a point where it’s easier and less expensive to simply replace the entire roof. The best way to tell whether it’s time to replace your slate roof is to consult a qualified roofing professional in your area. They will be able to get up on the roof and take a close enough look to accurately advise you.