As a professional
slate and tile roof restoration contractor with many years
of experience, I am sorry to have to report that probably
50% of our workload involves the removal and replacement
of faulty repair work on old slate and tile roofs.
contractors who have no business being on slate or tile roofs
manage to convince property owners that they know what theyre
doing when they dont. Even professional full-time
roofing contractors may have little or no experience with
slate and tile and simply view such roofs as modified asphalt
shingle roofs, which they are not.
To make matters
worse, competent slate and tile roofing professionals can
be hard to find in some areas. The SlateRoofers.org website
maintains a directory of
contractor members of the Slate
Roofing Contractors Association.
Although we offer no endorsements of any contractors, our
directory is a good place to begin looking for slate roofing
We also have a
web page titled, How to Tell if Your Contractor is a Neanderthal. This
page is linked to a page of photos showing
some examples of Neanderthal slate roofing work, and is worth a look. To
avoid paying Neanderthals to deface your roof, make sure
they have the correct tools (slate
hooks); make sure they do not walk on
the roof routinely (they must use hook ladders), and make
sure they know something about types
of roofing slate (they should
be able to identify the slate on your roof).
This is fundamental
stuff for any slate roofing professional. The SlateRoofCentral.com website also displays information on the repair of both slate and tile roofs,
and offers slate tools for
sale as well as the Slate
Roof Bible, a must have book for any slate
professional or slate roof owner. Slateroofcentral.com also
lists sources of new and used slates and tiles.
If youre having a new slate roof installed, beware.
As a slate roofing consultant offering
services nationwide, I receive a lot of calls from people with
new slate roofs who are having major
problems within the first
ten years of installation.
Heres an example:
Recently, a fellow called me from South Carolina. His family
had scrimped and saved their money for years in order to
re-roof their house with the worlds finest roofing
The roof was only
seven years old and already dozens of slates were falling
out. He was disappointed and frustrated, to say the least.
There were a few reasons for the problems the roof was having:
he had purchased an imported slate from a foreign country
that had drilled nail holes without
a counter-sunk hole for
the nail head to sit into. This caused the slates to be under-nailed, which
forced the nail heads to rub against the overlying slates.
This problem was
compounded by the main reason new slate roofs fail prematurely:
the roofers who installed the slate walked all over it during
installation. Acting as if the slates were actually asphalt
shingles, the Bigfoot roofers tramped all over
the roof, breaking and cracking the slates everywhere. Months
or even years later the cracked slates fell out. Also, a
variety or incorrect nails were used on this roof, which
was also nailed onto a plywood roof deck (which is suitable
for asphalt, but not for slate).
The man summed up
his experience by saying that contractors who dont
know what theyre doing are giving slate roofs a bad
name. Hes right the best roofs in the world
are only as good as the installation.
Read another article about how to find the right contractor.