Repair and replacement of roof tiles and slates

Marley clay plain close up product image

Here we look in depth at practical steps to consider with the actual repair and replacement of individual roof tiles.

Individual tiles or slates that are damaged during or after installation should be replaced as soon as possible using a sound, matching unit fixed in accordance with the nailing and / or clipping specification. Avoid repairing damaged slates or tiles using superficial coatings, adhesives or other mechanical devices, as their performance may be limited.

In some cases, repair may not be possible without stripping back a large area of tiling / slating. If extensive repairs to the roof are required, sectional or complete re-tiling / slating should be considered; this may be the most practical and economic solution in the long term.

Replacing damaged tiles shortly after installation means additional time and expense. To minimise the risk of this, roofs and walls clad with tiles and slates should be treated as fragile and adequate precautions should be taken during installation, including:

  • use of crawling boards for roof access
  • roof ladders should be suitable packed to prevent damage to the roof covering
  • use of access platforms when accessing the roof for maintenance or repair 

How to replace interlocking tiles and slates

For an unfixed tile, remove the damaged unit by first easing it up slightly, using a trowel and timber wedges, so that the tile can be slid out with the nibs clearing the top of the batten. The replacement tile can be inserted using the same procedure.

For a tile that is nailed, the neighbouring tiles should be lifted to expose the nail(s), which should be extracted carefully using a slate ripper or hacksaw blade and disposed of safely. The replacement tile can be inserted using the same procedure and re-fixed to the adjacent fixed tiles by using an epoxy resin adhesive applied to the interlock / overlock and headlap area.

Care must be taken not to bridge anti-capillary bars or interlocking water channels so that water can drain freely.

For a tile that is clipped, the clip can be prised off the interlock and the nail extracted, with the damaged tile removed as described above. The new clip and nail can then be fitted as normal (avoiding the previous nail hole), allowing the clip to rest in the clip recess of the adjacent tile. Hold up the clip, and slide the replacement tile into position, allowing the clip to be released onto the sidelock of the tile.

For a tile that is both nailed and clipped, it is necessary to establish the position of the tile nail holes in the course directly below the replacement tile. Mark out the corresponding hole positions on the top surface near the tail of the tile. Fit the replacement using the above procedure. Drill a 4mm diameter hole through the top of the replacement tile, directly above the nail hole of the tile below. Secure both courses using a stainless steel screw with cap and washer (40–120mm long dependent on tile depth) to provide a minimum 15mm penetration into the batten.

The above procedure can also be used to secure the tail of the course above the replacement tile.

If there are a number of damaged tiles that are clipped, it may be necessary to strip back the roof to the nearest verge or valley/hip in order to re-clip the replacement tiles.

It is important that both washer and cap from a waterproof seal around the hole. If necessary, a mastic sealant should be applied around the screw where it passes through the lower tile nail holes.

How to replace concrete and clay plain tiles

Plain tiles are not normally nailed in every course, and in such circumstances the following procedure applies.

Remove the damaged tile by raising up the neighbouring tiles with a timber wedge and sliding the tile out with the nibs clearing the top of the batten. Any nails should be removed and disposed of safely.

Insert the replacement tile back into position using the same technique in reverse. If required, re-nail the replacement tile using 2 No. 38mm x 2.65mm aluminium nails.

A dab of mastic can be placed on the underside to prevent movement.

Where can I get more information? 

If you have questions about any of our products, please download a brochure or contact us.

Frequently asked questions related to this article:

Q: Is it easy to replace a roof tile?
A: Repairing individual roof tiles can become complicated depending on location of the tile to be replaced on the roof, in the first instance we would recommend contacting your roof tile manufacturer about possible complications.