Renewing an Area of Slates

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Home repair    by: ITC

Slates are fixed to the roof in rows, or courses, each course overlapping the one below by at least half a slate length. In addition, the joins between slates in adjacent courses are staggered: in this way the joins are always covered by the slates above or below to ensure a water-tight construction.

Where the roof has a gable end, wider than normal slates are fitted to the ends of alternate courses to produce a square edge to the roof (these are known as “slate-and-a-half” slates). In addition, the edge slates at a gable end may be bedded on mortar laid on stacks of narrow slate strips known as creasing slates. These tilt the edges of the slates upwards so that rainwater runs down the roof to the gutters.

In addition to cutting them to size as described opposite, you will also have to make nail holes in them — no closer to the edge than lin. Use an old slate as a template for marking the holes.

Make the nail holes by drilling them or by driving a nail through with the slate supported on a block of wood. For safety and ease of working, do the cutting and drilling on the ground and carry the finished slates up to the roof. You will need 1 ‘Ain copper, zinc or aluminum roofing nails to hold the slates in place.

Remove the old slates from the roof using the slate ripper and starting with the upper courses of the area to be renewed. As you remove these upper slates, you will expose the heads of the nails holding the slates below. Cut these off with a pair of pincers.

Collect the slates and lower them to the ground with a bucket and rope, taking care with whole, undamaged ones, which you will be able to refit.

Having stripped off the old slates, inspect the battens below and if any are broken or rotten cut them out with a saw.

Begin fitting the new slates, starting at the lowest course and nailing them to the battens to recreate the overlapping pattern of the roof. Use two nails per slate and make sure it is fitted with the beveled lower edge uppermost to aid drainage.

Work your way up the roof, nailing the slates in place until the surrounding original slates make this impossible. Then fit the other slates with lead clips or toggle clips (see opposite) to complete the repair.

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