Slate is one of the most beautiful roofing materials. When well-maintained, a homeowner can keep up the appearance for decades without repairs or replacements. But what goes into maintaining a slate roof?
Avoid Walking On The Roof
Slate roof maintenance starts with regular assessments of the roof. When performing any inspections, always avoid walking on the roofing. Slate shingles are thin, and they may break or crack from the weight. If you want a closer look, use a pair of binoculars or a camera to see the roof from the ground and determine damage from there.
Look For Damage And Have It Repaired ASAP
When assessing the roof, look for any cracks or broken areas. Look for sloped slate tiles. If tiles have a powdery appearance, the tile is likely deteriorating; this is called delamination, and if you notice it, have a professional replace the affected tile. Pay attention to gaps in the mortar joints along the ridgeline – cracks or splits may mean it’s time to replace the mortar.
When it comes to protecting your home, the slate itself sheds water, not the material beneath it. Any weaknesses in the slate tiles will allow water to seep in, resulting in a higher chance of water damage. A roofer can repair any damages much more quickly and cheaply than fixing extensive water damage. If you see anything concerning, contact a roofing expert as soon as possible!
Check The Flashing Around Your Roof
Keep an eye on the flashing around your roof, too. It can wear more quickly than the slate, especially when it’s in contact with another metal. They will “eat” each other over time, and you’ll likely need to replace the flashing sooner than you’ll have to do any repairs on your roof.
Flashing on slate roofs will often be made from copper, but other options, such as coated stainless steel, don’t cost as much. You’ll find flashing and other metal components along ridges, valleys, drip edges, gutters, and downspouts.
If, when replacing your flashing, you find you also have to restore the sheathing under the slate, make sure it’s a job performed by professionals. Not all sheathing materials are equal, and not all will work effectively on slate roofs. You may need traditional, 30-pound roofing felt to protect your home from the elements if there’s a storm before the contractor installs the slate.
Perform Routine Clean-Ups
Other than close examinations, you should perform maintenance much like you would on any other roof. Clean the gutters at least twice during the fall and once in the spring, set up gutter guards if you’re under a tree, and if you notice any damaged slates, have them replaced as soon as possible.
You should have a professional with slate and steep roofing experience conduct close inspections every five to seven years. They have the equipment – such as brackets called “roof jacks,” which are like mini scaffolds – that protect them and the roof on which they are working!