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Common Reasons Slate Roofs Fail Prematurely

Slate is one of the oldest roofing materials, but it’s still quite popular today. When installed correctly and maintained up to the manufacturer’s standards, this premium roofing material routinely lasts a century or more. Unfortunately, though, that’s not the experience that all Greensboro homeowners have with slate roofing tiles. Instead of remarkable longevity, some people get only a few decades out of their slate roofs before they begin to cause trouble.

Why Does Slate Fail Prematurely?

There are a few underlying problems that can explain why slate roofs prematurely fail, all of which are related to the homeowner’s choice of roofing contractors. The problem is that while slate is an impressively durable and long-lasting material, it can be finicky about installation and maintenance conditions. 

Not all contractors know how to work with this specialized, premium material, so it’s common for damage to occur as a result of both poor installation practices and improper maintenance, even when homeowners hire professionals. Read on to find out about three of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

You have many options when it comes to roofing materials and oftentimes, you’ll notice that they’re all touted as durable materials. While it is true that most roofing materials are manufactured to withstand damage, slate is considered one of the strongest materials there is. Despite this, however, your slate and metal roof company will tell you that there are still some instances when even slate roofs fail prematurely. Here’s why:

The Wrong Flashing was Attached

When you install a slate roof in your home, your contractors will have to attach metal flashing to the roofing system. As the flashing is considered to be the weakest part of a slate roof, it’s vital that only the best kind of metal flashing is installed. This is because if a stainless steel or aluminum flashing is installed, it could erode quickly and cause leaks that can damage your slate roof. With that in mind, it’s highly recommended that you have your contractors install copper flashing on your slate roof to prevent premature erosion.

The flashing around vents and chimneys is arguably the weakest part of a slate roof. If the contractors that installed it cut corners and chose less durable materials such as aluminum or stainless steel, it can cause a premature need for slate roof repair. As the flashing erodes, water begins to infiltrate, damaging the roof deck and eventually causing leaks. Contractors that know their way around slate roofs know that copper is the only material that boasts sufficient longevity to justify its use in this kind of premium roofing system.

Walking Over the Roof Tiles

Slate tiles aren’t usually affected by moisture unless they have cracks and oftentimes, cracks occur when your roofer walked over your slate roof. Fortunately, most professional roofers know that they shouldn’t walk over slate tiles. However, if you make the mistake of hiring an inexperienced roofing contractor, it’s possible that they may not know that they shouldn’t walk over the slate roof. Therefore, if you need to have your slate roof repaired or inspected, make sure that you’re hiring a professional who knows their way around slate tiles to prevent your roof from sustaining damage.

Poor Quality Nails Were Used

To attach slate tiles to your roof deck, nails will have to be used and unfortunately, these nails can also be a reason as to why your slate roof failed prematurely. If the nails are of poor quality, they can deteriorate early and with no nails holding them in place, the slate tile could fall off your roof. When you’re having a slate roof installed in your home, make sure that your contractor is using heavy-gauge galvanized roofing nails to prevent the roof from deteriorating early.

One of the most common reasons for catastrophic slate roof failures is related not to the tiles, themselves, but to the type of nails chosen to hold them in place. Slate may be an impressively long-lasting material full of natural beauty, but contractors still need to use man-made nails to keep the tiles in place. If they choose the wrong ones, the metal will begin to corrode well before the tiles even begin to experience regular wear and tear.

Slate tiles are also quite heavy, which can place extra strain on the nails. As those nails deteriorate over the decades, they leave the tiles without any kind of support holding them in place, and the tiles start tumbling from the roof as a result. Needless to say, missing roof tiles can certainly be considered a sign of premature roof failure, so it’s important to work with contractors who use only heavy-gauge, galvanized nails to hold the heavy slate tiles in place.

The Importance of Using High-Quality Slate

Slate is a beautiful, natural material that boasts impressive longevity and durability. However, not all slate tiles are created equal. Contractors who don’t pay sufficient attention to seemingly minor details can wind up purchasing tiles that have tiny, hairline cracks or undetectable damage. 

If no one notices these issues before the slate tiles are installed, they’ll only continue to get worse. over time, tiny, almost undetectable cracks will widen, breaking up the slate and allowing moisture to get in. Leading slate roofing contractors understand the importance of careful quality assurance checks and material selection.

Not All Roofs Can Take the Weight of Slate

Slate tiles are very heavy, so this type of premium roofing system is only appropriate for homes that are structurally sound and feature reinforced roofing frames. Since this roofing material is the heaviest one on modern markets, it’s not uncommon for roofs that previously featured asphalt tile roofing to need some extra reinforcement. If contractors don’t realize that or simply don’t follow through because it adds an extra step to the project, it can lead to catastrophic roofing system failures.

Technically, it’s not the slate tiles that are to blame in this situation, either. As with issues such as choosing the wrong nails and flashing or walking on the tiles during roof maintenance, problems with insufficient roof deck reinforcement are caused by incompetent contractors.

Get Assistance from Carolina Home Specialists

Tired of dealing with slate roof repairs on your own? Greensboro roof replacement may be a better option. Contact Carolina Home Specialists for help. They can explain the benefits and drawbacks of not just slate but a variety of roofing materials and help homeowners make the right choice.

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Common Reasons Slate Roofs Fail Prematurely

Carolina Home Specialists is a premier exterior home improvement service company serving the Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Chapel Hill communities in North Carolina. We also serve many surrounding communities.

If you’re in the Triad area and need a design consultant, please consider reaching out to our local roofing, windows, siding, gutters, decking, and fencing installation specialists. We’d love to help!

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