If you have a slate roof, you know one of the benefits is that the material lasts a long time and gives the roof a natural appearance. Slate roofs can still get damaged from normal wear and tear along with the damage from outdoor elements. Broken tiles should be replaced, which is an easy job for the average person who doesn't mind heights. Here are some tips to replace slate roof tiles.

Get Prepared

You will need the following tools to replace slate tiles:

  • hammer
  • chicken ladder
  • copper or stainless steel slate hook
  • slate ripper
  • slate cutter

Use caution when walking on tile and clean moss growth or moisture to prevent slips. For extra safety, use a chicken ladder to hold your weight better since slate tiles cannot easily accommodate foot traffic.

Know When to Replace Tiles

Climb a ladder and asses how much of the tiles are missing or broken.  If you estimate more than 20% of the tiles in one section are broken or missing, you should replace them all. Give the tiles a tap and listen for a clear sound. Tiles that make a dull sound when you tap them need replacing. Old tiles will also be porous like concrete chalk that got wet. In this case, it's time to replace tiles.

Remove Old Tiles

Place the blade of the slate ripper below the lower edge of the slate, and use the hook to remove nails making certain the tool remains flat with the roof to avoid loosening other tiles. Tap the slate ripper handle with a hammer to push the hook on the nail, and pull the slate out. If the tile won't budge, try to pull it with a slate hammer.

Install New Tiles

Use the salvageable tile as a guide to buy replacement tiles. Lay the replacement tile over the old tile to get the correct fit and trim with slate cutter to the right size. Clear the area where the tile will be placed with the slate ripping tool. Insert the new tile in place and mark the location of the tile with chalk below it, and remove it.

Set a copper or stainless steel slate hook where you made the mark and hammer the hook in the joint. Reinsert the new tile, and press it high enough to make the bottom of the tile goes passed the hook bottom and bring the tile down to set the bottom in the hook. 

It isn't always necessary to replace a whole slate roof. However, if you see damaged pieces of tile all over the roof, it may be time to contact a roofing company for an all-over replacement.