How to Replace a Slate Roof Tile the Easiest Way

Natural slate roofs are not only gorgeous but they are quite long-lasting as well. However, despite the fact that slate roofs can truly withstand the test of time and stay almost intact for over a century, the ones that are poorly maintained have a way shorter service life. Even if it is just a broken tile, make sure to replace it as soon as you spot the crack and the leaky spot. And, if you don’t know how to replace a slate roof tile, today, we are here to teach you just that.

Tools Needed for Replacing a Slate Roof Tile

  • Slate cutter,
  • Slate ripper,
  • A standard hammer,
  • Tin snips.

A slate ripper, also known as a slasher, is the most important tool out of these four. Just in case you are not familiar with the tool, it is good to know that it is used for chopping and pulling the slate nails. Typically, the top of a slate ripper is sharp, which makes nail bending, pushing, and chopping more convenient. Alternatively, you can use a slate ripper to pull out the nail. Now, let’s go through all of the steps you should take to replace a broken or missing slate roof tile.

How to Replace a Slate Roof Tile Step-by-Step

  1. Slide a slate ripper under the slate tile that needs to be replaced and locate the nail that holds it in place. Catch the nail by using the ripper’s hook and start hitting the handle of the tool downwards using a hammer (apply slight pressure) until the nail is either cut or ripped out. While doing this, make sure the slate ripper is positioned as low as possible so that its handle almost touching the slates underneath.
  2. Repeat the same process in order to remove another nail that is keeping the tile down. Once it is removed, you can remove the slate tile as well. If you want to ensure that the slate tile stays almost intact, tuck the slate ripper underneath while pulling the tile out with your other hand.
  3. If more slate tiles need to be removed, you will be able to clearly see the nail holes of the lower tiles and move on with removing extra nails all until all of the damaged/cracked tiles are removed.
  4. Now, you are going to need to purchase replacement tiles that match the size of the tiles removed. You can also buy larger ones and then cut them down by using a slate cutter, just in case you can’t find the matching size or if any adjustments need to be done in the process. However, do not buy slates that are smaller in size than the original ones.
  5. Position the new slate so that you can nail it at the same place where the previous one was nailed down. If you don’t stick to the same nail holes, there is a great chance that you will be facing leaks since water will find its way through the holes. Speaking of nails, ideally, you should opt for aluminum clout, galvanised, or copper nails. Be careful when hammering the nails since applying too much pressure can crack the slate. Sure thing, do not make it too loosely either.
  6. If the existing nail holes are damaged or too large, we recommend making a new one only then, ideally, by using a cordless drill.
  7. If you believe securing the slate with not just one but two nails would be a smart idea, create an extra hole at the top of the slate and make another hole in the timber.
  8. Last but not least, no matter if you are replacing a single slate or a couple of them, as you work your way up and you are almost done re-slating, use tin snips to cut a 20mm strip of lead that is not wider than ¾ of an inch. Nail the strip down in-between the underneath tiles (this will hold your slate in place and prevent swiveling). Place the strip first and the final slate on top of it while making sure that 1-2/4 of the strip is still visible.
  9. Finally, use a hammer or a pair of tin snips to fold back the visible part of the strip so that it keeps it secured.


Now, you know how to replace a slate roof tile, yet, are you sure that you want to handle this type of job on your own? Indeed, replacing a broken or missing slate roof tile is a small repair but doesn’t working on a roof make you feel uneasy? Groom n Co is there to help you out with both small and large roof repairs. Not only do we have the right knowledge and years of experience with similar tasks but we will do our best to install new slates that match the type, size, texture, and colour of the existing ones. We cover Beckenham, Chislehurst, and surrounding areas so make sure to contact us anytime regarding any type of slate roofing job.