Homeowners considering purchasing an older home that has a slate roof may want to assure themselves that the quality and structural integrity of the roof is intact prior to purchase. Although all homes undergo an inspection before they are sold, slate roofs have some unique qualities and variations in installation styles that can make them susceptible to problems if they have not been installed correctly. Slate requires special knowledge and techniques that some roofers or home inspectors may not be qualified to perform. It is desirable to have a qualified and knowledgeable River Oaks roofing contractor inspect the roof prior to the purchase. Most reputable contractors provide inspections and estimates free of charge, so the most it will cost the potential home owner to ensure the roof's integrity is a little bit of their time.
There are many common errors that untrained roofers can make when installing a slate roof. One of the biggest problems is over or under nailing the individual slate tiles. Nail holes are drilled at the manufacturing site to ensure that tiles don't crack. They are drilled with a beveled edge so that the nail head sits flush against the tile.
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Over nailing a tile could result in the tile splitting or hanging from one nail. Under nailing can damage and crack the tile that lies directly above it.
Another common error is slate tile that is installed with inadequate head lap. In order for slate tiles to fully protect the structure, each tile must overlap the one under it by at least 3 inches. Although there are some newer types of slate products that don't require that much head lap, older structures must have at least the minimum. A related problem is the incorrect placement of side laps. If the tiles do not align properly, there is the possibility that water can seep in through the nail holes. This may not be evident until the underlayment fails, which can certainly happen as slate roofs can last well over a hundred years.
If repair is needed on the roof, contractors should try to avoid walking over the slate. Damage from walking may not occur immediately, but can cause breakage long afterward. There are specific types of ladders and equipment that allow for repair without walking on the roof for most roofing configurations.
A properly installed and maintained slate roof can last for hundreds of years. Working with a reputable contractor can assure potential homeowners that the slate roof on their new home is sound.