Now that slate roofing is experiencing a renaissance, more customers are requesting it. Roofers looking to grow their business may be wise to expand their services to include slate installation. But, slate roof installation is a specialized task that takes experience and planning. Here, we want to give you five points to consider before you take on slate installs.
- Slate is a naturally occurring material, and is subject to variations.
Slate is mined in quarries all over the world. Each slate, like any stonewill have a unique makeup based on minerals involved in its formation. Most American and Canadian slates are processed by trustworthy companies that have been in operation for a long time. Imported tiles can have unknown sources that may react poorly over time (ex. Some Chinese slates will spot, and some Spanish slates will rust). Knowing your quarry source and producer is crucial to the slate quality. And good quality slate can last hundreds of years, so don’t be cheap.
- You and your crew need extensive training.
This type of installation requires special knowledge of the material, its handling, and its installation. For example, your install should be planned in such a way that almost eliminates the need for installers to walk on it. Slates are durable to the elements, but will crack under direct pressure of a work boot. There are many nuances like this that need to be understood.
- Understand headlap and sidelap.
Headlap is critical to the long life of your roof. It is the overlap on each course of slate by the second course above it. This overlap is what prevents the roof from leaking. Three inches is standard, but headlap can vary according to the slope of the roof. If this is not aligned properly, you have to pull the whole thing off and start over. The same is true of sidelap.
- Consider the foundational aspects heavily.
Slate roofs are heavy, be sure everything underneath them is built to last as long as they will. Your decking should not contain glue (like plywood), as glue will erode over time and lose its bond. Solid wood is the ideal material to support your roof for its lifespan.
- Slate installation requires specialized tools.
Your regular roofing tool arsenal is not acceptable. If you want to grow your roofing business to include slate, you need to invest in the tools to do it properly. For example, you will need a slate cutter to create the proper edges, and a slate hammer to add holes. The Slate Hook system offerd by Fasco America® can help you install your roof with increased accuracy and speed.
Slate roof installations are an art form that is becoming more popular as consumers demand natural products that last. A great way to expand your roofing business is to offer specialty roof installs, like slate and metal. Before you take on either, take the time to learn what these jobs really require. If you decide you’re ready to up your roofing game, invest in high quality fasteners and tools to make sure your workmanship lives up to the longevity of the materials.