Any experiences replacing slate?

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Topic: Any experiences replacing slate?

Home and Garden June 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Any experiences replacing slate?

We own a typical row house in Columbia Heights and recently lost 3 slate tiles off the front of our roof in one of the storms. We only have slate on the front portion – the rest is a typical tarred flat roof.

We had a guy out today to give us an estimate and he suggested we not bother replacing them with original slate tiles because of the cost to cut them and then replace them and any others which might be loose. He suggested we go with a cheaper synthetic alternative. We have been in our house almost 10 years and are planning another 10 at least so would like to preserve the character. Plus slate can last 100 years. Anyone with experience replacing slate tiles? Good companies to recommend? Anything to look out for?

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We have an entire roof of slate, and you will have a harder time finding a roofer who handles it. That being said, they shouldn’t have to cut (if they are standard size). Price for tile replacement can vary. It’s not cheap, but it’s cheaper to replace a few tiles than it is to re-do your whole roof. We have used Angie’s list with a lot of success. Recently we used GG Roof (or something like that), while they were pricey, they were straight forward, didn’t try to up-sell, and only bid for what we asked them to do. I find those who don’t do slate will try to convince you to remove it. So, keep looking around and it’s worth it to get an Angie’s list membership even for a month.

My slate roof is 100+ years old. Generally, the slates are fine…but the nails holding them in are rotting. (The flashing is iffy too.) I have replaced a few fallen slates with synthetic slates, but I expect more to fall. Unfortunately, I will probably replace my roof with a premium architectural shingle that imitates the look as best as possible (for half the cost). Most of my neighboring attached houses have replaced their slates with asphalt already.

Thanks for the tips. Just called G&G for an estimate –

We plan to eventually expand our rowhouse – yes a dreaded pop up – so does not make sense to replace the entire slate portion right now and the flat part of the roof is in very good shape.

herkygrrl and monkeydaddy are right. Typically its the nails that rust away, causing the (mostly) intact slate tile to no longer be attached, and fall off. You probably have more than a few tiles that are tenuously attached and close to falling off. This means that unless the tiles that need to be replaced are at the very edge of the roof, when the roofer goes up on your roof to repair it, his choices are to either set up staging that keeps him from actually touching the roof (costly, because it takes a while to set up, and he could charge you to “rent” the equipment, although its basically like playing with legos, so its not an advanced skill), or you accept the fact that he will knock more tiles off while up there, and replacing those additional tiles will also drive the cost up. With that in mind, I would wait until you have to replace enough tiles to justify the cost. And if you’re planning on renovating in the near future anyway, waiting until then is the choice I would personnaly make.

If you do choose to repair the roof, I would only consider “custom cut” tiles if you will be able to see the difference in shape from ground level. The difference is purely aesthetics, so you may not even see the difference.

We have the same type of roof on our rowhouse in Columbia Heights, and we’ve used Clerkin Roofing, (301) 888-1492. He generally has a selection of salvaged slate on hand. He had enough Vermont red slate to repair our roof with nearly identical slate. It was very reasonable, maybe $1500 to install several slate shingles and make a few other repairs. If that sounds expensive, keep in mind that the repairs were on the front side of the turret, 45 feet off the ground.

Slates don’t cost that much on a per unit basis, like $4.00 each. Slates are still quarried from family quarries in New England, Pennsylvania and Virginia. If you need alot and special shapes, the quarry will cut them for you.

The “roofer” you talked to is probably part of an affinity rewards program with a roofing materials corporation. He gets points for every roof he sells. If he gets enough points he takes his family to Hawaii. The roofer you talked to does not get points for a couple slates. Slate doesn’t get him to Hawaii.

Find a roofer who knows slate and has the equipment to get up your roof. It’s the equipment and getting up there that is expensive, not the slate, so once he’s staged up there have him replace all that make sense. A bit of preventative replacements. Replace slates once in a while, as needed, and a slate roof can last forever.
Get slates at Roofing Center’s Slate Hill in Bethesda. They can recommend guys who do slate.

Watch this guy replace a slate in one minute:

Had to look this up in my records. Last time I ordered slate, I got 100 reds @ $5.25/ea, 100 unfading greens @ $1.90/ea, and 1,300 Gray-black @ $1.75/ea. Freight was $975. For total of $3,965. This was for a 500 square foot roof. Slates were from Camara Slate Products, Inc. Camara offers a 100 year warranty that their slates won’t delaminate of soften.

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