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Fixing Natural Slate Roof Tiles

By John Doe
Published in Domestic Roof
April 16, 2021
4 min read
Fixing Natural Slate Roof Tiles


You can see that there are three types of slates used on this type of roof. I’ve taken a photo from a loft conversion project so you can see how thick the uncut capstones are.

If yours are like this then you don’t need to do anything as they only form the roof surface. Sometimes though you’ll see guttering with a line of slates running below the actual gutters, this is called a cover-over.

The cover-over provides a drip edge and finish at gutter level, but again it doesn’t affect the functioning of the actual gutter.with the choice of using fascia board or pre-formed fl eaves, we chose to use the latter. This saves substantial time in production and labour costs.

The process of fitting a fl eaves is a lengthy process where metal rails are fixed within the lining board and protrude above the roof face. The metal rails hold guttering and supporting ridges in place whilst the ridge itself is built up with slates and decorative capping stone.eaves slates were cut and fixed face down.

This provides the all-important support at the bottom of the roof and the line for gutter and fascia installation. The thicker selection of graded slates are used for the eaves course and at the lower level of the roof.once the slates and rake edges have been fixed in place, they are sealed all over using a professional quality roofing tar. This prevents leaks by sealing the joins that can happen when adhering the slates.

Slate Cutting By Hand

We have a small team of hand slate cutters who have worked with us for several years. They have carried out many projects, particularly across the london area, kent, suffolk and suffolk coastal towns. Hand slate cutting adds to the uniqueness of each project, as every one is truly unique and will be different than any other project that has been created before it.

We also work with local tradesmen who skilled with slate cutting as we supply them with tools & equipment for installation/fitting purposes.slate is a natural, hand-worked stone. It is laborious to cut, shape and bend. Technology has no place in the traditional roofing trade.

The work is done by hand only, and even if we have to use modern tools (roofing nailers or machines) they are placed at the service of our hands. This way we can achieve a result closer than ever to an original slate roof, and this is why the cupa florence family has been working with slate for more than a century: to create unique masterpieces.to create a feature pattern within the roof area we cut scalloped slates by hand using the traditional method. Slate cutters can also be used to shape slates or cupa can provide shaped slates for projects to save time on site as cutting by hand with axes/cutters is quite labour intensive, and very tiring.hand cutting of slate is the traditional method and can be used to create beautiful feature patterns in a roof design. This can also save you money on certain projects where you may only need to use a hand cut scalloped slate to add that extra special feature.

Valley Detailing

What is valley details? Some slater’s love it, some not.

But they all use it in a mix-match of tiling systems and techniques. And what has fascinated me about them is the old victorian roof tile designs that they have set along side modern building design. The pre 1962 ones i’m sure would be of interest to conservation societies and councils that these buildings won’t be destroyed by the ravages of time and the elements  as they develop a patina of age/weathering, chalky white coloring discolouring off to a soft light grey.a detailer job entails checking the existing work carried out on the buildings roof to bring it up to the standard required by the national trust.

As with most historic properties, the roofs are made up of 2 layers, a lead/slate layer and an oak boarding layer beneath. Since we were working on wordsworth’s house in cockermouth, this meant that almost every visitor’s favourite roofing material slate was included in our work package.my father worked as a roofing apprentice in the 1960’s.

In those days, roofs were made from slate and tiles which needed to be hand cut to length and placed onto each other in a particular way so that they overlapped. Sidelaps were also built into the courses of tiles (below) to help reduce the chance of water penetrating through the roof.the weatherproofing, which in the uk was considered to be the responsibility of the builder and not usually dealt with by architects, was just as interested in detail and cost. As long as it could be made wet-proof with minimal sealant joints, we were more interested in practicality than aesthetics.

Repairs To The Roof

It was looking increasingly that a reef was going to be required. That is a job i definitely would not have been able to do on my own! Just under the high peak is an area of good quality slates and ridge tiles.

Using the slate ripper, all of the black fibreglass ridge tiles were disconnected and removed. This exposed a metal ridge cap which had very little corrosion.we weren’t sure if there was a gutter running above the broken slates, hence the veranda tiles would have to be lifted too. … i sat on the ground, legs crossed in a very manly pose and proceeded to attack the nails one at a time with an ancient bent-nosed in-line claw hammer (looked like it might have been from the german army!)

The first five slates were soon off!. So, my dad came up the bright idea of lifting me on to the roof so i could remove them. That’s right, i was about 10 and quite light and he was strong.

So after a lot of scraping with my hands, arms, knees and chin and a fair bit of shouting with a little bit of swearing thrown in for good measure i had “liberated” around eight nails.the damage on the roof was extensive. The slate carpenter had run out of copper nails and we had reached a dead end. I suggested asking around for some old nails, but the copper repairer said there were none lying around.

We were looking at a roof repair costing hundreds of pounds or starting again with new slates.while the scaffold was being put in place, the next-door neighbour had kindly repaired a leak in the bedroom ceiling. It was now time to work on our roof. The broken slate couldn’t be removed by hand so we needed to strip off the rest of the tiles and a lot of it from right up to the ridge.the majority of the slates were in a good condition they just needed re-nailing, most of the ridge tiles were ok,  there was just a small number that looked like replacements that need attention. The slate ripper sprung loose and the damaged slates came away from the roof.


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John Doe

John Doe

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