Can Slate Roofs Be Patched?

close-up of slate roofing tiles

Can Slate Roofs Be Patched?

In the Coppell, Texas area, homes have a variety of roofing types. From the basic asphalt shingles to slate shingles, depending on the age and the architecture. With more upscale homes being built, a popular choice is a slat roof. Repairing this roofing material is a concern for many homeowners, but once they have a slate roof installed, they find the repairs are minimal and seldom, and the results of the roof are pleasantly surprising and extremely pleasing. 

What is the biggest problem with slate roofs?

Depending on the architectural style and the budget, a slate roof may not be the right choice. Some notable disadvantages of slate roofing include: 

1. A Heavy Weight

One of the most significant issues with slate roofing tiles is the weight. Slate has a significant extra weight compared to other roofing materials, weighing up to 800 pounds per square foot. If a home doesn’t have existing slate roofing, it is important to have an engineering inspection to determine if the structure can hold the weight. 

2. The Installation 

After a slate roof has been installed, the maintenance is minimal, the installation is difficult and takes longer than other roofing materials. Where an asphalt roofing job takes approximately 8 hours or less, slate roof installation can take as long as 3 months or longer depending on the size of the house. This time can be longer if structural reinforcement is required before the slate tiles are installed. 

3. Slate Roof Repairs and Replacements

Another downside is the difficulty in slate roof repairs and replacing broken tiles. Slate roof repair or replacement tiles is possible, but it is challenging to get an exact color and texture with slate tiles, and because the color, sizes, and thickness are all-natural, chances are exact replacement tiles are few and far between. 

4. Easily Broken

A slate roof will be a durable roofing material when it comes to extreme weather conditions and fire. However, walking on a slate roof is not recommended because it can be broken when stepped on wrong. When a slate roof repair is needed, hiring an experienced professional is recommended. They will know how to walk on the roof and make the repairs correctly and successfully.

5. Inexperienced Installers 

When it comes to installing or having slate roof repairs done, it can be challenging to find an experienced professional roofing contractor who works with slate roofing. 

6. Expensive

A slate roof is as much as 5 times more expensive per square foot than other roofing materials. The material itself is more expensive, and because fewer professional roofing contractors are experienced with slate, they can often have higher rates.  If the home needs additional structural support added, that increases the cost as well. 

How are slate roof repairs done?

The most common method for slate roof repair is referred to as the “nail and bib method”.  The broken, damaged slate tile is removed with a slate ripper, a specialized tool that not all roofing contractors have. 

Then the replacement slate is put into place and using a nail, it is anchored between the two, overlying slate tiles. Next, the roofing contractor will slide a square of flashing under the two slate tiles and overlay the above slate, nailing it into place. 

Can a slate tile be repaired and left in place? 

A roofing contractor with experience in slate roof repair can advise you if a crack is small enough to repair and leave the slate tile in place. In most cases though, the roofing contractor will advise replacing any broken or cracked slate tiles. 

Can a slipped slate roof tile be fixed?

If you have slate tiles that have slipped out of position, you may be able to do a slate roof repair yourself by reattaching it with a tingle and mailing it into place as described above. Remember to use extreme caution walking on the tiles and be aware that loose slate tiles are often caused by weakened nails or the slate tiles breaking down or disintegrating. Just as with any slate roof repair, it is always recommended to hire a professional roofing contractor who has experience in slate roofing. 

Are slate roof repairs worthwhile? 

Because a slate roof is expensive to have installed, most homeowners will want to get the longest lifespan possible, which can be up to 100 years or longer. So, if your slate roof is fairly new, any slate roof repair will be worth the cost!  However, if your home and the slate roof are close to 100 years old, you may consider getting estimates on other types of roofing materials. 

Closing the Roof Off

A slate roof can give a home of any size an elegant appearance. It can also look out of place if other homes in the area have the basic asphalt shingled roof. If you’re considering a slate roof installation, take the time to get several quotes and have a real estate expert give you advice and opinion on whether a slate roof would be too much for the neighborhood.