How to Replace a Broken Slate or Roof Tile

Broken tiles and slates are one of the most common issues with roofing. Replacing a broken slate can be a very simple job, however it also has the potential to be quite tricky and certainly dangerous.  Follow this guide on how to replace a broken slate from Wayne our Head of London Roofing.


The most important advice here is on safety.  Affleck do not recommend untrained people to attempt changing a roof tile.  Roofs by their nature are generally high above the ground the potential for serious injury is very high.  Please take great care when attempting to change a tile, if in doubt, always seek the help of a professional.

Steps to Replacing a Broken Slate

  1. Find a matching tile/slate
  2. Get the right tools – slate ripper/nail hook, copper nail, tingle/lead strap & hammer
  3. Get to roof level securely
  4. Use slate-ripper to remove nails
  5. Slide out the slate
  6. Fix the tingle/lead strap
  7. Install the new slate
Replacing a broken tile or roof slate - Clapham, South London

Find a matching tile/slate

Replacing your broken tile or broken slate with one different to the original will cause it to look out of place.  If you don’t have a spare tile at home, the easiest thing to do is to take a photo of your roof with your phone – the closer you are and the higher the quality, the better.  Take the photo to a roofing supplier and they should be able to supply you with a matching roof tile or slate.

Essential Tools for replacing a broken slate

You will need the following tools for repairing a broken tile or broken slate:

  • Slate ripper
  • Hammer
  • Tingle/lead strap
  • Copper Nail

Get to the roof securely

We cannot advise caution enough in this step.  Please see our note on safety.  Roofs vary greatly and there are a lot of variables to consider; size of the overhang, distance of the broken tile to the edge of the roof, number of tiles to replace etc.

You must have secure footing based on a solid foundation - either scaffolding or a well secured ladder.  Be aware that if someone is securing the ladder they may be at risk from falling debris.

Use slate-ripper to remove nails

The broken slate you are removing will be secured by two nails; one in each of the top corners.  Slide the slate-ripper beneath the broken tile and up towards the top right corner, you are aiming to catch the nail on the right hook of the slate ripper.

Once the hook is pulling on the nail, use the hammer to hit the handle of the slate-ripper to shear through the nail – it should take four or five strikes – be careful to keep the slate ripper held tightly.  Then repeat the process for the opposite corner.

Caution: when removing the nails be aware that some of the broken tile may come loose with the potential to knock you off balance or injure anyone below.

Remove the slate

With the nails removed you should be able to slide the remained of the slate out of position using your hands.  Slates can be quite cumbersome and as this one will be broken will be in several pieces – make sure you can put them down safely.

Install the lead-strap/tingle

Place the lead strap over the joint of the two roof slates that are now exposed. You will see nails securing the left and right slate.  Place the top to the tingle just above the line of these nails and hammer in your copper nail in line with the nails.  The nail should pass between the gap in the slates and into the roof baton below.

Install the new tile/slate

With the tingle secure take your new slate and slide it in place of the old one.  The slate should slide underneath the two slates above it.

With the slate installed, align it with the other slates in the same row. Finally fold the tingle up to hold it in place.  Once the tingle is secured you can crop off the excess off using wire-cutters or a similar tool.

Job done!

Recommendations for Roof Care

Make sure you check your roof at least once per year – checking for broken tiles, overflowing gutters or sagging.

From the interior signs of damp beneath a roof can often be a sign of a broken tile or another leak.

Affleck offer a fast and reliable roofing service to deal with any London roofing maintenance issue.  Contact us on 0800 316 9595 to arrange an appointment at a time to suit you.


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