Introduction: Hello, fellow roof enthusiasts! I’m Tony Stratton, a third-generation steeplejack and the president of Inspired Heights, a nationwide church roofing contractor. Today, I’m excited to share some insights on repairing a slate roof.
While slate roofs are known for their beauty and durability, over time, they may require maintenance and repairs. In this DIY article, I’ll guide you through the process and help you determine when it’s time to call in the professionals, especially if your project involves a church or steeple.
Table of Contents
When to DIY and When to Call a Professional
Before you embark on repairing your slate roof, it’s essential to assess the scope of the project. While smaller repairs can often be handled by homeowners, there are situations where it’s best to leave it to the experts:
- DIY Repair: You can confidently tackle DIY slate roof repairs when dealing with minor issues such as a few missing or damaged slates, minor cracks, or loose nails. These are generally simple fixes that require basic roofing skills and tools.
- Professional Assistance: Consider hiring a professional, like Inspired Heights, if your project involves a large slate roof area, extensive damage, or complex issues like underlying structural problems. Church or steeple owners should especially consider experts for such projects due to their complexity and the importance of preserving historical and architectural integrity.
Tools and Materials You’ll Need
Before getting started, gather the following tools and materials:
- Safety gear (including gloves, goggles, and a safety harness)
- Replacement slate tiles
- Slate ripper
- Roofing nails
- Copper or stainless steel flashing
- Roofing cement
- Slate hooks (for fixing loose slates)
- Caulking gun
Step-by-Step Guide to Repairing a Slate Roof:
Note: Ensure safety precautions are always taken when working at heights.
Step 1: Safety First Before climbing onto your roof, don your safety gear, including a harness, to prevent accidents. Always work in dry weather conditions.
Step 2: Prevent Further Damage Slate roofs should not be walked on to prevent further damage. Therefore, workers may work off a ladder that is placed on the roof or place something under them like a sheet of plywood or foam.
Step 3: Identify Damaged Slates Inspect your roof to identify damaged or missing slates. Look for cracked, broken, or loose tiles. Pay close attention to areas around chimneys, vents, and valleys, as these are common trouble spots.
Step 4: Remove Damaged Slates Use a slate ripper to carefully remove the damaged slates. Slide the ripper’s blade under the slate and catch the nails then slide it downward to release the nails. Be gentle to avoid damaging surrounding tiles.
Step 5: Install New Slates Slide the new slate tile into place, ensuring it matches the surrounding tiles in size and thickness. Secure the new slate with slate hooks. When necessary, position nails just below the overlap of the slate above.
Step 6: Flashing Repair Inspect and replace any damaged flashing around roof penetrations like chimneys and vents. Secure new flashing with roofing cement and nails.
Step 7: Caulk and Seal Use roofing cement to seal any gaps, cracks, or exposed nail heads. Apply a thin layer of cement to create a watertight seal.
Step 8: Clean Up Remove any debris from the roof and gutter to prevent clogs and ensure proper drainage.
Repairing a slate roof can be a rewarding DIY project if you have the necessary skills and tools for minor repairs. However, for larger or more complex projects, especially those involving churches or steeples, it’s wise to enlist the help of professionals like Inspired Heights.
Preserving these historic and architectural gems requires expertise and a commitment to quality workmanship. Whether you DIY or seek professional assistance, regular maintenance is key to ensuring the longevity of your slate roof and protecting your investment. Stay safe and happy roofing!