Slate roof tiles are one of the best and most highly aesthetic roofing materials. These tiles are much more durable than asphalt shingles, but come with a higher cost. Though durable, this roofing material still gets damaged from time to time, due to various reasons.
Determining the Cause of Damage
There are many reasons why slate tiles break, but the most common is stress. The stress can be caused by an overly tightened nail, a branch falling off the roof, or a clumsy person trying to install the satellite dish. Before proceeding with the repairs, make sure to check what causes the stress. The wood sheathing may be exposed to moisture and therefore shift in shape from time to time. If so, a structural repair can be done on the sheathing to avoid future cracks. Or, find out the source of moisture and repair it. If the stress is caused by a fallen tree branch, try to trim the branch above the roof every time it grows over. Be sure to check if the break is caused by the nails as well. If they are overly tight, make sure not to repeat the same mistake when replacing the damaged tiles.
Replacing Damaged Slate Roof Tiles
A slate roof tile is secured to the roof with two nails located at its upper section. Since the upper half of the tile is covered by an overlapping tile above it, the nails have to be removed using a special tool called the slate ripper. Insert the ripper underneath the overlapping tile and hook the nails with it. Pull off the nails from the roof carefully, avoiding any damage to the upper tiles. As soon as both nails come out of the roof, pull the damaged slate downwards.
The replacement should have the same color tone as the one removed, to ensure the repair is not too obvious to the naked eye. If slate tiles are not available from local supply stores, you can buy artificial slate tiles, made of polymer or concrete. These tiles are designed to mimic the appearance of slate and therefore do not look obviously fake. The replacement should also be of the same length as the damaged piece.
Nailing a replacement piece on the roof is not easy. However, a slate hook can be used to hold the replacement instead. The hooked portion of the mounting device holds the bottom edge of the replacement, thus preventing it from sliding downwards, even if nails are not used. Hooks are either made of copper or stainless steel. Copper is recommended if you want to make the repair less noticeable.
Before inserting the replacement, first install the hook. Secure the hook in the middle of the vacated slot by hammering it carefully. The hooked portion should rest exactly on the point where the bottom edge of the replacement tile should be. Insert the tile underneath the overlapping tile above and let its bottom edge rest in the hook.