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Long Island's premier

slate & tile supply house for 60+ years!



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Slate Roofing Tools


While it may seem that working with slate or tile requires many specialized tools and equipment.  In reality all you need to do basic repairs is a hammer, the right types of nails or hooks, and maybe a slate ripper and a slate cutter, which can either be purchased or rented.  Of course, like all things there is plenty of specialized equipment out there..........


1.  Slate Cutter

This is a simple and easy to use tool that is used to cut slate, and to punch nail holes into the tile if necessary.  As stated before, it can either be rented or purchased depending on how much work needs to be done.  Along with using this tool to cut slate for roofs, a few local artists have even used them to cut ornamental shapes in slate and use them as a canvas for their artwork. 


2.  Slate Bar

Another simple and easy to use tool.  This bar is used to remove nails holding slate in place.  The user slides the skinny bar under the slate to be removed, and hooks onto the nail.  A few hits with a hammer and the nail should pull out, allowing the slate to be removed.

3.  Slate Hooks

          The simplest way of replacing slates on an existing roof.  A hook (either galvanized or copper) is pounded into the roof betwen the two slates of the lower course, and a replacement slate is slid in place.  Works without penetrating any existing slates (ie, "face nailing") which can cause leaks. 

Also a better solution than using copper flashing material as a hook, since large copper tabs can be bent by snowload, leading to replacement slates sliding off the roof.

4.  Slate Hammer

Now this is not a required tool for repairing slate or installing a new roof, but some contractors have found it nice to have around.  A centuries old design, this can be used to drive nails, punch holes in slate, remove nails, and the shaft of the hammer can be used to cut slate.  These hammers are hand crafted in the USA and held onto for years by their owners.

5.  Acetylene Soldering Iron

When joining copper flashing, copper roofing, working with copper gutters, or doing any copper finish work a soldering iron is generally the best tool to use, along with some flux and good 50/50 solder.  Unlike a torch, using a soldering iron will prevent discoloration of the copper.  These irons can be used with a 3/4 lb head, or a 1 1/4 lb head.

6.  Ladder Ridge Hook

A ladder hook is used to secure a ladder in place on the upper reaches of the roof.  It is a strong bracket that attaches to the top two rungs of the ladder.  The hook is then rolled up the roof on the wheel, and once on top of the ridge the ladder is flipped over and hooked onto the ridge.  This stable platform provides a roofer with a place to rest slates, rest tools or to work from.  It is also great for working on chimney repairs.

The hook is reinforced, and the large base on the hook itself provides for a stability, and disperses weight to prevent breaking of slate or tile.

7.  Roof Bracket

      While some asphalt roofs can be "walked", more often than not brackets and planking must be used on slate roofs in order to provide a stable platform to lay slate or do do repairs.

We have sold these adjustable galvanized roof brackets for years, and have found them to be some of the best to use with slate.  They provide a wide base which will not damage the individual slates, and can easily be installed and removed.  They also collapse for easy storage.

8.  Copper, Stainless Steel & Hot Dipped Nails

Most often  contractors will use copper nails for slate and tile roofs.  The reason being that the copper nails will outlast the slate or tile roof, while standard galvanized nails will begin to rust away.

The standard metric for choosing a nail length is double the thickness of the slate, plus 1".  If you're dealing with normal 3/8" thick roofing slate, that means 1 3/4" nails are the size to use.

Some vendors sell ring nails, others sell smooth shank.  We're of the belief that the smooth shank are better....slightly easier to drive in, and if the time ever comes for a repair they are easier to pull out (and much less likely to snap when pulling them out in case of a repair in the future.)

Hot Dipped Galvanized nails work as well for slate roofs, as they are dipped in molten zinc which protects them from the elements.  If you have to nail slates into a very hard sheathing material (such as aged oak...) stainless steel nails might be a better bet.  They are harder than copper, and will last just as long.