Roofing: Slate Roof Fife and Edinburgh
History and tradition
Slate roofs have been traditional in Scotland since the middle of the 16th century, and we’ve even developed our own methodology for fixing them to cope best with the harsh Scottish winters.
Traditional Scottish slates, mined in Scotland, are thicker and sturdier than those used south of the border, and came in random sizes.
For this reason, they were usually nailed in ‘diminishing courses’: the smaller slates are used at the top of the roof, from the ridge, and larger ones deployed as the courses move down.
Slate roofs are more expensive than tiled, but they do last longer. So, when it comes to deciding what option is best for you, we would recommend that you consider the lifespan of your roof.
Maintenance and Repair
There’s a reason slate has been so popular in Scotland: it is very hard wearing.
A slate roof can last in excess of 100 years, making it one of the most durable types of roof systems you can install on your home or building; often a slate roof will outlast the rest of the building.
Crucial to getting the best from any roof, however, are maintenance and timely repairs.
A slipped or broken slate will often lead to water penetration very quickly, especially on older properties.
Slates will slip out of place and fall due to corrosion of the fixings, known as nail sickness.
This can happen when poor quality nails have been used to fix slates to the roof, or just as a consequence of age, time and the wet Scottish weather.
Over time, the nails begin to corrode, causing slates to slip from the roof through vibrations, high winds or storm damage.
It is also possible for decay and softening of the nail hole to take place, after decades of movement, resulting in the nail hole becoming too big for the nail.
In either or both cases, the result is that water can get into the roof cavity, causing a vicious circle of ever-worsening problems.
Similarly, after decades of rubbing together in high winds, with the slight movement allowed by the fixing nails, slates can crack or even break, again allowing water into the property.
We also frequently see well-meaning amateur repairs on roofs that have the opposite effect of that intended.
It’s important to remember that roofs are designed so that if water ever does blow under a slate, it will flow away harmlessly, using the force of gravity.
When a homeowner uses silicon or mastic to stick a slate in place or repair a crack, they often unwittingly create a small dam that prevents water flowing away, and it soaks into and through the wooden structure of the roof to penetrate the fabric of the building.
In such cases, we need to scrape away all the mastic and fix the original problem.
Professional Roofing Repairs Fife and Edinburgh
When a roof is first covered by slates, the builders proceed from the bottom upwards.
This allows them to nail the top of each slate to the wooden sarking or battens.
When replacing slates later on, it is not possible to proceed so methodically, as all the other slates are in position.
Therefore, the correct method of replacing slates on an existing roof is to use tingles: lead or copper clips.
The nails that secure each slate to its timber batten are hidden beneath the slates in the course above, and it is not possible to lift these in order to hammer in fresh nails.
So, a narrow lead or copper strip is nailed to the batten; the slate is slid into place; and the end of the strip is bent up under the bottom edge of the slate to hold it in place.
While re-constructing, we highly recommend using a copper slate nail to fix slates to the roof. We can form traditional lead valleys, fit zinc ridges or fit any required lead work.
If you have a slate roof in need of repair, please give us a call or fill in our contact form now.
Guarantee That Means Something
All of our work is guaranteed. You may have heard that before from other builders, but let us explain why we are different.
We are trusted and recommended members of the Federation of Master Builders, Guild of Master Craftsmen, the Construction Skills Certificate Scheme and we are a Which? Trusted Trader.
We’ve been in our premises in Thornton since 2008, so our customers know where we are if they have any questions once we’ve finished the job.
If you would like more information or a free estimate, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
Fife: phone 01592 747 047 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Edinburgh: phone 0131 300 0494 Email: email@example.com