How to Fix Slate Roofs


Many projects around the home use slate, including roofing. Slate is manufactured in thin tiles that are installed in an overlapping pattern just as are other shingles. Although slate is resistant to water and deterioration, slate tiles do break if impacted by tree limbs and can be dislodged in high-wind conditions. Repairing the slate roof requires a few special tools, but is a task most homeowners can accomplish.

Things You'll Need

  • Non-slip shoes
  • Ladder
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Slate cutter
  • Slate ripper
  • Slate hook
  • Hammer
  • Put on a pair of non-slip shoes and place a ladder next to the building. Climb up onto the ladder and examine the slate roof to identify any areas where the tiles are cracked or have fallen off completely. Measure the damaged tile locations with a tape measure to determine the width of the tiles.

  • Climb back down to the ground and transfer the measurements to the new slate tiles using a pencil if they require cutting. Only slate tiles along the roof edges or at the top or bottom typically require cutting.

  • Lift the handle on a slate cutter and slide a tile under it, lining up the pencil line with the blade. Push the blade down until it cuts 2 to 3 inches into the slate. Lift the blade up and push the tile forward. Lower the blade again. Continue this process until you have cut the tile all the way down the line. Repeat the process with any other tiles that require cutting.

  • Climb back onto the roof and insert a slate ripper tool under the bottom edge of any damaged tile. Slide it up until you feel the top curved portion catch on the nail in the upper left of the tile. Pull the ripper straight down with force to bend or break the nail free from the roof. This step may require multiple attempts. Repeat the procedure to remove the nail on the top right side of the tile, and then slide the tile out.

  • Insert a metal slate hook into the seam under where the new tile where lay, with the hooked end facing upward. Tap the top of the hook with a hammer to insert it into the underlying roof.

  • Insert the new slate tile on top of the hook and slide it up under the tile above it. Lower the new tile down until the bottom edge rests in the curved section of the hook.

  • Repeat the process to fix any additional damaged or missing slate tiles.

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