If your home is topped with a slate roof, you may find that you receive frequent compliments on its classic, streamlined, and sophisticated appearance. However, as these roofs age, they can begin to show visible signs of wear and tear; unlike asphalt shingles and cedar shake shingles, these flat slate tiles don't have much in the way of disguise when they begin to chip or crack. If your roof has seen better days, should you opt to repair the specific slate tiles that have been damaged, or is replacing the entire roof a better option? Read on to learn more about the factors you'll want to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace your slate roof.
Factors Leaning Toward Repair
There are a few situations in which replacing individual tiles (or even several rows of tiles) is a far better option than replacing all the slate tiles on your roof.
The first is when the damage is confined to a fairly small location, as may happen after a severe storm or other weather event. Removing and replacing the tiles in one spot on your roof can be a quick process (although you'll still want to enlist a professional roofer to assist). Meanwhile, scheduling an entire roof replacement can take some time, especially if your neighbors also sustained damage in the storm and have roofs that are somewhat easier (and cheaper) to replace.
Another situation in which repairing your slate roofing tiles is a more palatable option is when the damaged tiles are simply cracked or chipped rather than shattered. While there's not much that can be done to make a slate tile roofing-worthy again when it's been broken into several pieces, patching a tile with a hairline crack or a few chips along the edge is a much easier process and can allow it to look and function like new again.
Those with custom slate roofs designed in a specific pattern may also want to thoroughly investigate all repair options before seeking replacement; depending upon the color and style of these slate tiles and whether the company that produced them is still in business, finding matching replacement tiles can be a significant challenge. By repairing these tiles and holding off on a full-roof replacement until the damage has become too severe to patch, you'll be able to maintain your roof's appearance without shelling out thousands of dollars.
Factors Leaning Toward Replacement
Often, replacement can simply be a matter of cost. Unless the damaged tiles tend to be located in a small or easy to access area, the labor-intensive process of scouting out and removing damaged tiles (while trying to avoid causing damage to any other fragile slate tiles) can often be more costly than simply removing all these tiles and replacing them with newer and more durable ones, especially if your roof is old or tiled in a hard-to-replicate pattern.
Unless you're an experienced roofer yourself or have some expert laborers available at below-market rates, you'll usually find that the repair-versus-replacement analysis leans toward replacement far sooner than it would on other types of roofs that can be more inexpensively patched. This is due to the additional expertise needed to install, repair, and remove heavy yet fragile slate tiles.
If your roof was damaged in a storm, you may be able to have most (if not all) of your reasonable replacement costs covered by your homeowners' insurance company. You may need to do some preliminary investigation on the cost of replacement and the value of your roof (before it was damaged) to ensure your insurer will pay out all that is properly owed.