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How to Fix Roof Slates

Updated February 21, 2017

Slate is a natural stone that is cut into tiles as a roofing material. It is a long-lasting option for a roof covering. Even though it is durable, it sometimes can break. As an example, pressure from ice and snow can sometimes damage roofing slates. Broken or cracked roofing slates should be replaces as soon as you notice them in order to prevent leaks. Roofing slates are nailed to the roof sheathing and overlapped in rows from the bottom edge to the to ridge line of the roof. Special tools called slate rips can be slid underneath the slate to remove them with ease.

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  1. Position a ladder against the roof line within reach of the damaged slate. Slide the slate rip underneath the damaged slate in the centre and slide it up and over to each side. You will feel two nails approximately midway up the length of the slate.

  2. Hook the hooked end of the slate rip over the nails one at a time and hammer down on the slate rip with a mallet to cut the nails off. Sometimes the nails will pull out rather than cutting, either way this will free up the damaged slate.

  3. Remove the slate rip from underneath the slate and slide it out. Set the damaged slate aside.

  4. Place the slate hook in the joint between the slates below the removed slate. Position it so that the inside edge of the hooked end is level with the bottom edge of the slates in the same row where you remove the damaged slate. Hammer the hook into the roof sheathing.

  5. Insert the replacement roofing slate in its place by sliding it up underneath the slate above it and over the slate hook at the bottom edge. Slide the slate down into the hook so that the bottom edge of the replacement slate is flush with the bottom edges of the other slates in that row.

  6. Tip

    Select a slate that closely matches the colour of the existing slates on your roof. Choose copper or stainless steel slate hooks for a longer lasting repair. Galvanised hooks are slightly cheaper, but are not as durable.


    Wear work gloves and eye protection when fixing roofing slates.

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Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Slate rip
  • Mallet
  • Slate hook
  • Hammer
  • Replacement roofing slate

About the Author

Jonah Morrissey has been writing for print and online publications since 2000. He began his career as a staff reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. Morrissey specializes in topics related to home-and-garden projects, green living and small business. He graduated from Saint Michael's College, earning a B.A. in political science with a minor in journalism and mass communications.

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