Finding a reliable roofer can be a difficult task. Finding a reliable slate roofer can be even more frustrating. There are many roofing companies that offer slate repair services. That does not mean that they will do the slate repair correctly. That does not mean they will be able to properly evaluate your roof. Some roofers, who specialize in shingle replacement, will falsely tell a homeowner that their slate roof needs to be replaced (with an asphalt shingle roof, of course) just to get a shingle job.
Slate roofs do need regular checkups and repairs. It is important to select an honest and reliable slate roof specialist to maintain your roof. Here are some tips on how to find the best roofer to evaluate and repair your roof:
1. Check with your neighbors. If you have a number of slate roofs in your neighborhood, see which ones appear to be well-maintained and ask the homeowner who their roofer is. Alternatively, you can ask a roofer for references from his slate roof customers in the area.
2. Ask friends and family. Ask friends, family, and co-workers for any recommendations for slate roofers. Be careful here. You may possibly get a referral to someone’s Uncle Joe, who may possibly make a mess of your roof.
3. Get multiple estimates. Unless you feel very confident with a neighbor’s or friend’s recommendation, get at least 2 or 3 estimates.
4. Don’t choose a roofer by appearance. Appearance is important, but just because a roofer is well-dressed, and has a fancy truck, does not mean he knows how to repair a slate roof properly.
5. Don’t choose a roofer based on price. Depending on how you budget your money, you may either be inclined to choose the cheapest, or most expensive roofing estimate you receive. Slate roofing is a specialty. You can expect to pay higher prices for a specialist, than with a jack-of-all-trades roofer. This doesn’t mean you should choose the highest price, or only choose the “specialist”. Take time to consider which roofer will do the best job for the best price.
6. Ask questions. Find out how the slates will be repaired. There are basically 2 preferred methods of slate repair. One is to use slate hooks. The other method is sometimes called “blind nailing”. It requires the slate to be nailed in the seam, and then flashed with aluminum or copper flashing. A roofer who is planning to “face nail” (attach the slate with an exposed nail head) or use roofing cement to do his repairs should be avoided. Using roofing cement for slate repairs results in a very ugly roof. Using tabs is not recommended as the tabs tend to bend down (sometimes from snow and ice), allowing the slate to slide out.
7. Be wary of the “roof-replacer”. There is certainly a point when it is no longer cost effective to maintain a slate roof. The argument between roofers will be at point the roof actually is in need of replacement. Many roofers (and even home inspectors), either by inexperience or greed, will quickly recommend that a slate roof be replaced. Roofers who specialize in asphalt shingles may be particularly hasty to state that a slate roof is beyond repair. Multiple estimates from qualified slate roofers will help you decide the best course of action.