A slate roof is a beautiful topper for any house. You can tell a natural slate roof by the unique patina it takes on over time. A well-maintained slate roof can last 100 years or more, but the key is "well-maintained." Slate roofs occasionally require some repair. As The Spruce points out, though, you can get the maximum life out of your roof with regular maintenance and repairs.
Slate Roofs Don't Support Foot Traffic
To endure for a century or more, slate has to be an exceptionally strong material. Indeed, it's a stone. However, for all the stone's strength, slate shingles are surprisingly brittle. Therefore, they don't support foot traffic well. Roofers have to use chicken ladders, which are durable ladders with hooks that they can lay across the roof to avoid treading on the shingles.
Individual Slates Sometimes Need Replacement
One of the most common slate roof repairs is shingle replacement. If something such as a tree branch falls on the roof hard enough, it can break a few of the shingles. More commonly, the fasteners give way and the slate shingle falls off. When either of those actions occur, the individual shingles need replacement to maintain the integrity of your roof.
Indeed, you don't want the situation to get out of hand. Sometimes homeowners wait until several slate shingles are missing before they call for repair. However, as soon as a shingle goes missing, your roof is exposed to the elements. If water gets underneath, you can have a much larger repair on your hands.
Faster Deterioration Can Lead to Slate Loss
Roofers install the slate shingles either with nails or hooks. These fasteners are usually made of steel, copper, or wire. They're durable, but not as durable as slate. Excess moisture can lead to rapid deterioration of the fasteners. When that happens, they might give way and drop the slate shingle they're meant to hold. Regular checks by roofers experienced with slate can prevent the loss.
Flashing Wears Out Faster than Slate
Roofers install flashing around joints, such as where the chimney meets the roof. The flashing is usually a malleable metal such as copper, galvanized steel, or lead-coated copper. They need it to be malleable so it can conform around the joint. However, that malleability makes flashing weaker than other roofing materials, especially slate.
The slate shingles and even the fasteners will outlast the flashing by a long time. As with missing shingles, deteriorating flashing can let moisture get to the decking below. When you have a slate roof, you should expect to replace the flashing several times throughout its lifespan.
Have your slate roof repaired regularly so it'll reach its full lifespan as a whole. Contact a slate roofing repair service to learn more.