The Self Build Self Help Site roof design

Reclaimed Slates

You can also get reclaimed slates - you will need to find a supplier who will ensure you get quality slates that can all be re-used. The problem with second-hand slates is the nail holes, which often will be enlarged, making it slightly harder to nail the slate in the required position. The slates may also have ragged edges.

One possibility for using reclaimed slates is to be able to cut them down, shorter to the top - see the photo below of the station building in Kettering.

photo of roof in Kettering


Click on photo for a larger view

Synthetic Slate

The most common type seen on roofs are of fibre cement but plastic, re-consituted slate and other types of synthetic slate are starting to make inroads. There are varieties of synthetic slates in terms of their colour, surface texture and edge. Many manufacturers now do plastic slates where the surface texture and dressed edge make the slates resemble natural slate. Fibre cement slates will tend to lighten with exposure to sunlight - natural slate holds its colour for much longer. Designs can be seen from the the Master Plastics site, one of many that supply such products. If you are considering these, then contact a local roofer to ask their experience with installing and ability to withstand fading etc.

At the gable ends you will need to decide whether you want alternate rows finished with 11/2 width slates or single slates cut to half width. This is a matter of personal choice although using 11/2 slates is a better, more sturdy job. For a good job with synthetic slates it is best to still fasten the bottom of the slates with rivets - which will require extra holes to be punched both in the slate and in the slate underneath - some roofers will not put the time into doing this.

Clay tiles

Clay tiles can provide a traditional cottage style look with a range of grey/blue and red/brown colours. See the Clay Roof Tile Council site for their reasons to use clay tiles.

Clay tiles come either as flat profile - see the Dreadnought Tiles site for examples or as interlocking type - see the Imerys site for examples.

Flat profile tiles are laid in a similar overlapping way to slates, being fixed by two nails at the top of the tile. Interlocking tiles are fixed with nails but their ridged profile means that there is little overlap, water instead being prevented from running through to tiles underneath

Concrete tiles

There is a very large choice in these in terms of colour and, as with clay, the profiles are flat or interlocking. The main difference is that concrete tiles are cheaper than clay and they are heavier - which may affect the gauge of the roof trusses, and makes harder work in handling.
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