Owning your own home can be extremely rewarding and gratifying, but it’s not without its challenges. One of the biggest challenges homeowners face when living in older homes comes from roof repair or roof replacement projects. Slate roofs are often used to replace shingles or tiles in historic buildings and are very common in certain regions of the United States, including New Orleans, Louisiana. The material can be beautiful and long-lasting, but properly repairing or replacing slate roofing can be tricky if you aren’t sure how to do it.
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The Different Types of Slate Roofs
The most commonly used roofing material for sloped roofs is asphalt shingles. They are easy to install, and offer a great aesthetic that blends into any surrounding. The biggest downside to asphalt shingles is their low lifespan. With proper maintenance, an asphalt shingle roof can last up to 15 years or more; with improper care, it’s not uncommon for them to begin to leak sooner than that.
If you’re interested in a more permanent roofing solution, it might be time to look into slate roofs. These shingles are made from natural stone and offer a classic aesthetic that can’t be beat. It’s also worth noting that slate is one of the longest-lasting roofing materials available on today’s market. With proper care, some slate roofs will last up to three times longer than an asphalt shingle roof will.
However, they’re also more expensive and difficult to install than other roofing options. If you live in an area that receives a lot of snowfall, it might be difficult to find someone willing to install a slate roof, since it requires special equipment.
Is a Re-Roof Necessary?
The first question to ask is if a re-roof is necessary at all. The average roofing installation price for a slate tile roof costs anywhere between $11,550 to $24,000 depending on the slope, pitch, and size of your home’s roof. That’s a substantial price to pay so repairs may be the more favorable option. It all depends on what kind of damage your roof has sustained and how extensive that damage may be.
If a re-roof isn’t needed and repairs are an option, you’ll need to determine what kind of damage has occurred. The most common slate roofing issues include broken or missing tiles, damaged flashing, nail pops, and bird or squirrel infestation. If your slate tiles have cracked beyond repair you may need to hire a professional to remove them and then replace them with new ones.
If you do need to re-roof your home, you’ll need to contact a reputable roofing contractor who can give you an accurate estimate. You may also want to hire an architect or engineer to check your roof and provide their own analysis of your home’s unique features.
Preparing the Existing Slate
Before you begin slate roof repair in New Orleans, it’s important to prepare your existing slate. Damage and decay, both natural and man-made, will weaken your slates, making them more susceptible to failure. Severely damaged or deteriorated slates should be replaced immediately by a pro; less-damaged slates can be repaired by a pro or DIYer who follows proper procedures. Improper repairs will lead to water damage and structural degradation of your roof—and potentially other areas of your home.
When removing degraded or broken pieces, work slowly so as not to dislodge any surrounding pieces. Do not use any tools that may damage adjacent tiles! Damaged slates should also be removed when possible, but try not to remove material that looks intact or is still firmly attached.
Attaching the Replacement Slate
Attaching a new slate to an existing roof is more of an art than a science. With that said, there are a few general guidelines to follow: A slate is generally installed at a 30-degree angle on either side of where it meets other slates. The overlap should also face up and down. Depending on how your roof was originally built, you may need to utilize wooden scaffolding or some sort of specialized equipment to complete this process.
It’s generally recommended using some sort of roofing sealant or adhesive to help ensure your new slate remains properly affixed and water-tight. This process can vary depending on where you live and what materials are available. In most cases, we’ll recommend a rubber based sealant like silicone or polyurethane. Consult with your local slate roof repair contractor if you need help picking out a suitable product.
After Repairs Are Complete
After you’ve completed your repairs, you’ll need to clean up all of your tools and make sure everything is back in place. Once your roof has dried completely you should check that there aren’t any leaks around where repairs were made.
If everything is working as it should be, it’s time to make sure your home is water-tight. You should check all gutter areas and doors that lead outside. Replace any worn seals around doors or windows that may allow water entry into your home. If your roof uses vents, inspect them and make sure they aren’t allowing rainwater to get into your attic space.
Before you even think about slate roof repair, you’ll want to make sure your roof is in top condition. If it isn’t, a broken shingle here or there could easily turn into something much more serious—and expensive. The first step to protecting your home from costly repairs down the road is regular maintenance. A preventative approach will save you money now and later on down the line when compared to reactive maintenance methods.
Before we discuss how to care for your slate roof, let’s take a look at how you can prevent problems before they start. Poorly maintained roofs are almost always worse than they need to be—even if it doesn’t seem like it at first. Hiring a professional slate roof repair expert on an annual basis will save you tons of money down the road by catching potential issues before they become major headaches.
The best way to prevent problems is to have your slate roof inspected and maintained on a regular basis. This means having it inspected and any needed slate roof repairs done twice per year. If you own a New Orleans home, hiring someone to do maintenance work is essential—you don’t want DIY projects turning into disasters!