Slate roof tiles can last a very long time, but you should completely replace broken tiles, or you’ll find water and damp entering your attic. A professionally fitted slate roof can last for up to 100 years before replacement is necessary, but adverse weather and general wear and tear can shorten their lifespan. It’s a job most people can undertake, though you’ll need to be comfortable working at heights. If you are not, you will be better off hiring a professional.
Step 1 - Removing Slate Roof Tiles
To access the tile you want to replace, you might need to take out several slate roof tiles. Use your nail ripper to pry up the tile above the one you need to replace. It needs to be exposed enough so you can manipulate and remove it .
Withdraw the damaged tile and cover the gap in the roof with a plastic drop cloth. You should overlap the edges of the gap by around a foot on all sides for the drop cloth to be most effective. To keep it in place, push it gently under the tiles above the holes then weigh it down on all of the other sides.
Step 2 - New Tiles
Slate roof tiles come in all kinds of different sizes. You will need a tile that’s the same size as the one you’ve just removed. The best method is to take the old one to the hardware or home improvement store to find the tile of the right size and thickness.
To judge how well the new slate roof tile will work, take out the plastic drop cloth and lay the tile in place, using a hammer to jam it up under the adjacent tile as far as possible. While it’s in position, mark 2 small holes in the necessary spots for putting the slate roof tile into a permanent position. The tile can now be removed and taken back to ground level
Step 3 - Fitting
Back on the ground, drill 2 holes through the tiles on the marked spots. You’ll be using these for the roof nails. Always be careful when drilling slate as it can easily crack and split. It’s better to run the drill at a slow speed and take your time over the holes than rushing.
Now. go back up to the roof and push the tile back into place, hammering it back under the adjacent tile so it sits back in the required position. Hammer the nails through the holes you’ve drilled in order to keep it in place. To finish, take a small piece of builder’s felt and slide it under the tile above in order to cover the heads of the nails and keep recurrent moisture off of them.
In all likelihood you’ll have to replace more than one slate roof tile when you’re working on the roof. Remove all of the tiles that need replacing at the same time, find the correct replacement slate tiles and do all the work simultaneously.