How to Install Slate Roof Tiles

What You'll Need
Tape measure
Chalk Line
Slate Hammer
Stainless steel nails
Drill with 1/8 inch masonry bit
Slate starter strip

Slate roof tiles add plenty of grandeur to a building. These tiles have been used in Europe for many centuries and in the US, they can be found on many older buildings. They last a long time and do an excellent job in keeping out bad weather. It takes longer to install slate roof tiles than to install a composition roof because each tile has to be individually fixed into place.

Step 1 - Drilling the Tiles

Each slate tile needs to have a hole drilled through it so it can be nailed to the roof. You’ll need to do this for every single tile, and you’ll save an abundance of time by doing all the drilling beforehand. Although some manufacturers of slate roof tiles will carry out the drilling according to your specifications, they’ll usually charge extra for it. Hole placement is likely to vary according to the size and style of the slate roof tiles. There will be instructions provided by the manufacturer to help clarify hole positioning.

Step 2 - Marking

To mark the starting positions, find the center point of the roof above the gutter by using your tape measure. From here, you’ll need to use a chalk line to determine the center point on the ridge of your roof.

Step 3 - Starter Strip

Before you begin attaching the slate roof tiles, you’ll need to put a starter strip on the roof. Generally, this will overhang the roof edge by around 1 ½ inches although you should check the manufacturer’s recommendations first. When you do begin nailing in the slate roof tiles, do so very carefully. Overdriving the nails can cause the tiles to crack. If you underdrive them, the nail heads will be raised which means the next course won’t sit properly.

Step 4 - First Course

Since there’s no expansion and contraction in slate roof tiles, you can butt them firmly against each other when fitting. Attach the first course of tiles to the roof using the slate hammer and stainless steel nails, driving them through the holes you drilled earlier.

Once you’ve completed a course, you’ll need to use the chalk line to mark the exposure of the tiles to provide an indication of where the next course will sit. This stage can vary depending on the type of tile and the style used.

Step 5 - Staggering Courses

To install slate roof tiles correctly, you’ll need to stagger each course so the proper headlap (which should be at least 3 inches for moisture protection) is established. Start from the bottom of the roof and work your way up, staggering the joints between courses by a minimum of 1½ inches. Each course will overlap the one below it but the course two stages above will also overlap some of the first course. This has the advantage of creating three seperate layers as a protective barrier.

Step 5-The Rest of the Roof

Use your chalk line on each course to show the exposure as you work further up the roof and make sure you stagger each course properly. Work up to the ridgeline andattach the slate tiles to the other side of the roof in the same manner. Finish the job with ridge tiles which usually come in an inverted “V” shape.