How to Maintain a Slate Roof

A Beautiful slate roof

Investing in a slate roof is very much worth it because it can last for more than a lifetime. You won’t have to think about replacing your roof anymore after you get it installed. Well, there’s truth in this, but there’s also a condition. You need to have your slate roof properly maintained.

The usual problem with a slate roof is that most people often mistake its durability, which lasts more than 100 years, as something that doesn’t need any maintenance. It is definitely not the case. As with other types of roofing, it also needs regular maintenance – not just by anyone but by experts in slate roofing.

What is Slate Roofing?

It’s not pretty far-fetched to say that slate roofing is a gift from nature. The materials are quarried from the Earth and can last more than 100 years. While this is a premium roof material, the cost of a slate roof is actually justified by a host of benefits you won’t normally find even in most contemporary roofing types.

For one, a slate roof’s aesthetics has endured the test of time and will no doubt continue to do so. So if you have this type of roofing installed on your home and have it well-maintained, expect to have its elegant look for a long time. Plus, a slate roof goes beyond its timeless and classic appeal. It’s also fire-resistant and invulnerable to warping and rotting.

Homeowners with this type of roofing also enjoy lower energy bills because it keeps their HVAC from working overtime, whether in winter or summer.

Why Is It Important To Maintain a Slate Roof?

While it’s true that a slate roof doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, it doesn’t mean that it should be entirely ignored. Staying consistent with its regular annual maintenance makes a big difference between having to incur a lot of expenses due to roof repairs or enjoying a premium quality type of roofing. Failing to give attention to even such a minor issue as cracks could lead to bigger problems down the line.

How Do You Maintain a Slate Roof?

A roof with slate roof
Photo Credit: PublicDomainPictures

Some of the most common parts of a slate roof you need to pay attention to include slate tiles, flashings, and gutters. For instance, if you find your copper flashings turning from green to black, it’s a clear indication that it has almost reached its end-of-life and needs to be replaced.

In a nutshell, slate roof maintenance usually involves:

  • A thorough inspection of the individual slate tiles
  • Removal of debris or mildew in between tiles
  • Gutter cleaning

But the three crucial steps of slate roof maintenance involve inspecting, cleaning, and repairing the roofing system.

Regular Roof Inspections

Having an experienced roofer inspect your slate roof annually is the most important part of maintenance. The best time for an annual inspection is usually spring, as it will help determine if the roof has sustained damages during winter. Plus, it will give you enough time to have the roof repairs done early in the year.

Some of the things that should go through inspection include:

  • Slate tiles: Falling branches due to strong winds and other flying debris during a storm can hit some parts of your roof and cause some slates to slip or break.
  • Flashings: Copper flashings, no matter how durable, can only last for about 70 years. So even if it doesn’t get damaged, you will still have to get it inspected and changed before the slate roof is replaced.
  • Gutters and downspouts: Roofing contractors also will inspect your gutters and downspouts as they are an essential part of your roofing system. If there are blockages, water will not be redirected effectively away from your house.
  • Chimney: A thorough inspection includes checking your chimney for issues like missing bricks and joints. Ensuring your chimney is in good order means keeping your slate roof safe from issues, as well.
  • Sheathing: It’s important to inspect sheathing as slate tiles are laid on top of them. If it can’t handle the slate roof’s weight, you must rectify it as soon as possible.

Routine Roof Cleaning

Roof cleaning may seem to be very simple, but that’s where most homeowners fall short, as slate roofing materials require utmost care and handling. While slate tiles are resistant to fire and can withstand extreme changes in temperature, it doesn’t mean it’s the same thing for strong chemicals or pressure.

It’s never a good idea to attempt to clean the dirt buildup, mildew growth, and water stains on your roof with chemicals, such as ammonia or bleach. Using a pressure washer is also not recommended since there’s a good chance you can break the slate shingles apart.

Experienced slate roofing contractors have the proper tools and use the right approach in cleaning different types of gutters and roof decking. And they can get the job done without walking on your roof, which is a big no-no when it comes to slate roofing.

Prompt Roof Repairs

Photo Credit: Pxhere

There are two ways a slate roof tile can break – through the cleavage and along the grain. This usually happens if strong pressure hits it, either because of a storm or someone has walked on the roof. But repairing a broken slate tile is as easy as sliding the individual slate out and replacing it with a new one.

Other roof components that usually need repairing are the flashings and fastenings. Whether copper or galvanized steel, the malleable material used in flashing does not last as long as the slate roof itself. As such, it needs to be replaced several times throughout the roof’s lifetime.

Fasteners, including screws, nails, and hooks, are another weak spot in a slate roofing system. These fasteners used to secure the tiles onto the roof can deteriorate over time, especially when exposed to excessive moisture.

An excellent roofing company can help quickly identify items that need repair and provide you with a plan of action. It’s always important to get these issues settled before they lead to leaks and water damage which is more damaging and costly.

How Long Will a Slate Roof Last?

A slate roof can last a very long time – between 50 to 200 years, depending on the slate material used. For instance, a slate roof made of concrete can only last about 50 years, even if it’s well-cared for. On the other hand, hard slates typically made from natural stone can have a lifespan of up to 200 years.

Aside from the type of slate used, roof installation and maintenance also play a huge part in maximizing the lifespan of a slate roof.

FAQ About How to Maintain a Slate Roof

How do I know if my entire slate roofing needs replacing?

As a general rule, if you’ve already replaced more than 20% of your slate tiles in different areas of the roof, any further sectional replacements or repairs are no longer justifiable. In this case, you will have to replace the entire roofing system.

Are slate roofs expensive to maintain?

The answer to this question is both a yes and a no, depending on your location. While a natural slate roof can endure a lot of damage, the tiles are susceptible to breakage. And if you live in areas where there are a lot of external conditions that may cause this, such as frequent storms, then having a slate roof can be quite expensive to maintain.
On the other hand, if you live in a relatively low-risk area where the weather is usually calm, you won’t have too much trouble maintaining a slate roof.

Does a slate roof increase home value?

Compared to asphalt shingles, a home with a slate roof can be sold for more because of its longevity and aesthetic appeal.

Count on Experts for Your Slate Roof Maintenance

One of the caveats of having a slate roofing system is its specialized maintenance. Unlike other roof types, maintaining a slate roof can be tricky and should be delegated to experienced professionals. Identifying potential issues is crucial, and this can only be done, at the very least, with regular annual inspections.

Don’t take the matters of slate roof maintenance into your own hands. Connect with a local roofing contractor to keep your slate roof in good condition.

Main Image Credit: monster koi / Pixabay / License

Melanie Joseph

After discovering her passion for writing through her beauty blog, Melanie left her engineering job in California, became a writer, and never once looked back. When she isn't writing, she loves dipping in the pool, tending to the garden, or doing simple home improvement projects.