St Louis Roofing: Article About Replacing Slate Shingles
Because it is made from stone, slate roofing usually lasts longer than other types of roofing such as wood or asphalt. It will last for 50 years or more and generally does not require maintenance from damage caused by the elements. Despite how good slate is as a roofing material, individual tiles need to be replaced eventually. Sometimes, this is the case when people walk on a slate roof and tiles break.
Replacing individual slate tiles is a specialized process. For this reason, it is best that it be done by experienced St Louis roofing contractors with the correct tools.
Because of the heavy weight of slate, any tiles and shingles must be removed before any new ones are attached. New slate can't be attached over old. Slate roofs are different from other types of roofs, so removing a slate roof is a distinct process. A special tool called a slate ripper is used. A slate ripper made of forged steel is 18 inches to 30 inches long and looks a bit like a chisel.
To remove a slate shingle, the flat end of the ripper is slid under it. Once the nail holding down the shingle is found, the end of the ripper is hit with a small sledgehammer. This dislodges the nail. It is better to hit the nail with a single hard blow than many lighter blows.
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The process is repeated until all the nails holding down the slate to be removed are gone.
When the nails are gone, the old pieces of slate are carefully slid out and the new slate carefully slid in. All slate tiles should be embedded in silicone. The silicone acts to absorb shock in events like a ladder falling over on the slate. It also prevents slate tiles, especially smaller ones, from slipping around. If even one slate tile gets out of alignment, it looks unattractive from the ground. A whole course of tiles out of alignment can make it necessary to reroof completely.
A special T shaped nail is used to fasten the new slate. These nails can be purchased or custom made by snipping both sides of a nail head. The best nailing material to use is copper.
Slate is extremely brittle and tricky to attach. There are usually pre punched holes in the slate for the nails. Nails must be driven far enough beneath the surface of the slate to hold the slate securely but not break it. The best nailing method is to hold down a tile of slate with one hand securely to prevent it from moving and hammer with the other hand.