Roofing tips for self-builders: how to select, purchase and fit high-quality roofing slate

Roofing tips for self-builders: how to select, purchase and fit high-quality roofing slate

Identifying and purchasing the most suitable roofing slate for your project can represent a sizeable challenge for the self-builder. How can you trust the slate you are purchasing? Will it last? Is it best to buy British? Is it worth trying to fit a roof yourself, or is it best left to the professionals? Here, Michael Hallé, roofing sales director at Welsh Slate Ltd, offers his top tips and warns of the pitfalls to avoid.

FOR many self-builders about to embark on their exciting journey, it’s probably fair to say that roofing does not top the list of priorities.

However, a high-quality slate roof not only represents a visually stunning element of your new home, it will also last for many years. Get a roof right, and it will outlive many other aspects of your property and become the crowning glory of your self-build project.

Get it wrong – perhaps by trying to lay a roof ‘on the cheap’ – and the consequences can be disastrous.

At a time when 85 per cent of roofing slate sold in the UK is imported and of variable quality, what steps can the savvy self-builder take to ensure they select a high-quality product that stands the test of time? Here are my top tips.

Before you buy

  • Remember, if the price seems too good to be true then it probably is. There is no such thing as high-quality cheap slate.
  • Consider: have you spent as much time selecting your roofing material as selecting your internal floor coverings?
  • How much are you paying for your internal floor coverings compared to your roofing material?
  • Did you ask the ready-mix concrete supplier for the cheapest concrete grade for the foundations? No. So why put the cheapest slate on the roof?

Main points to consider

  • Does the slate conform fully to the European Standard and is it independently tested?
  • What is the history of its use in the UK?
  • Does the slate perform in the UK climate?
  • Does the slate have a guarantee? Is the guarantee from the producer or distributor? Is it a generic guarantee or is it project specific?

Getting down to detail

  • When purchasing slate, only choose a product with a pallet label, stating the source of the slate by country and quarry.
    After all, if the distributor does not know where the slate has come from, how can he or she be sure of the quality?
  • Only purchase slate with a CE mark on the label. This is a legal requirement and confirms the slate has been tested in accordance with European standards). However, the fact the slate has been tested does not give an indication of quality or performance.
  • Only purchase slates that have been tested and the label on the crate shows the following minimum test results:

T1 (as opposed to T2 & T3) checks for metallic sulphates, which cause rusting leading to holes in the slate

S1 (As opposed to S2 & S3) checks for carbonate content, which causes loss of colour and density, and also slate failure

A1 water absorbency

Installation – choosing a roofing contractor

  • Independent accreditation should be the starting point when selecting a roofing contractor. Are they part of the Competent Roofer Scheme? Are they members of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC)?
  • Ask to see recent examples of their work. Do not be afraid to ask previous clients about the quality of service.

Laying a roofing slate yourself

  • With a little technical know-how, a self-builder can lay slates. The basic method of fixing is laid out in our technical brochure.
  • The build up of the roof structure, such as setting out the battens and ensuring adequate ventilation, is key to achieving a
    high-quality slate roof.
  • Clay Ridge Tiles, Slate Ridge Tiles or Lead Roll are traditionally used to cover hips and ridges on Welsh slate roofs.
  • Mitred Hips give a distinct sharp finish to a slate roof but are only appropriate on roof pitches of 30 degrees or steeper.
  • Ridge tiles give a unique and distinctive finish to any slate roof.

Good luck with your self-build project! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by email or calling +31 (0)6 44 89 69 90.

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