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How to Replace a Broken Slate Tile

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Step One -- Preparing for Slate Roof Repair
Home with slate roofing system

Home with slate roof system

Photo © iStockphoto.com/Double_Vision www.istockphoto.com

Very few types of roofing materials can match the natural beauty and longevity of a natural slate roof. A natural slate roof can last in excess of 100 years making it one of the most durable types of roof systems you can purchase and install on your home or building. In order to get the maximum life out of your slate roof system it must be maintained and repaired. You will get the most service life out of your roof system if you inspect and repair it on a regular basis.

Accessing Your Roof Safely

In order to complete an effective repair to your slate roof system you must safely gain access to the area of the roof system where the repair needs to be made. Slate roofs present safety obstacles that must be addressed in order to safely complete repairs.

The first thing to remember is that slate is a natural product and moss will grow on the surface of the slate. In addition, it will become slippery under rain or snow conditions. Take precautions by clearing any type of growth from the surface of the slate as well as removing snow or ice from the surface of the slates before attempting to walk on them. It is not recommended to walk on the surface of the slate when it is wet from rain or snow.

The second thing to understand is that slate does not support foot traffic very well. It is best to avoid stepping directly on the slate when possible. This can best be accomplished by using a chicken ladder or other type of equipment that will support your weight while making the repair. Risks associated with stepping on the slate include additional damage to the roof as well as slips and falls as a result of slate slipping out from under the feet of the individual.

As you repair your slate roof, you want to ensure that your access to the roof does not cause further damage to the roof system. You also want to complete the repair that minimizes your exposure to falls and injuries.

Tools, Materials and Skills Required

Slate roof repair requires several specialized tools and equipment in order to complete the repair project correctly. These tools allow you to be more effective and safe while working on the roof and allow you to install a better quality repair.

  1. Tools
    • Hammer
    • Flat pry bar
    • Slate ripper
    • Slate cutter
    • Caulk gun
    • Chicken ladder
    • Tin snips
  2. Materials
    • Replacement slates measured to match the size of the slate being replaced
    • Copper roofing nails -- of sufficient length to penetrate the decking a minimum of ¾”
    • Sheet copper -- cut to a minimum dimension of 5” by exposure on slate plus 2”
    • Polyurethane caulk or asphalt mastic -- in caulk tubes
  3. Skills
    • No fear of heights
    • Ability to safely utilize hand tools
    • Ability to set up ladder safely
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