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How to Replace a Roof Tile

Skill Level: Advanced


It is said that a stitch in time saves nine and that is no truer than when we are talking about home maintenance, especially roofs. Periodically checking your roofs will save money in the long run. Planned maintenance need not be as big a job as it sounds. It’s better to at least identify a problem in its earlier stages even if it is a job that we ourselves cannot tackle. Nipped in the bud early invariably saves time, money and inconvenience. However, replacing a tile can be done confidently by ourselves providing we use the right equipment, the right tools for the job and keep safety in mind at all times.

Fortunately roof tiles have a long design life, up to 40-50 years in some cases but the odd one or two can become damaged. This may be due to severe weather, wind, frost damage, and debris falling on them or sometimes even the roof settling. Another common fault is “nail sickness” which is a picturesque way of saying rust. Whatever the reason, early detection, identification of the problem and repair is preferable to the inevitable water ingress and costly repairs you would subsequently experience.

Replacing a Slate Tile

A broken slate or one that has just slipped cannot be nailed in the same position as the old one because the position of the original nails is hidden under the bottom edge of the slate tile above. The replacement slate is held in place with a clip (sometimes called a tingle).


Making a Clip [ or Tingle]

Make your clip using lead sheet. Cut a piece about 300mm x 15mm


To remove the offending slate

To remove the offending slate, slide it gently downwards. Try to do this ever so lightly so that the overlapping slates above are not disturbed. It is better to remove the old nails from the batten; try pulling them out with pliers. If that way is not successful then it is quite in order to just cut them off flush. To do this use a thin cold chisel (bolster) or better still use a purpose made tool called a slate rip.


Take your clip and attach the top end of it to the batten

Take your clip and attach the top end of it to the batten, in the gap between the two slates in the course above, by nailing a galvanised nail through the clip into the batten. You will end up with the short side of the clip running horizontal and the long edge vertical down the roof.


Set the new Tile in Position

Take the new slate tile and gently from below, slide it into position


The tile will be sitting on your new clip

The tile will be sitting on your new clip. Fold up the bottom end of the clip so it folds over the new tile.

Replacing a Tile (not nailed)

These tiles are really easy to replace as they are not nailed to the roof battens. Instead, they are held in place by the use of nibs protruding from their top edge. Tilt up the tiles in the course above the offending one until you have enough room to wriggle the nibs of the broken tile free of the batten. With a little gentle persuasion you can ease the edges of the tiles at either side of the one you are replacing if you feel the need for more room to work. Place a little wedge underneath them to hold them up.


Gently insert the new tile by sliding it in position

Gently insert the new tile by sliding it in position from below. Ensure that the nibs are in place hooked over the timber batten. Slide the tiles above back to their original positions making sure that their nibs are still hooked over the batten. If you have used wedges on the adjacent tiles, remove them.


Tools you will need:
Rolson 200mm Combination Pliers
Rolson 200mm Combination Pliers
- Stanley 4-18-298 3 Piece Cold Chisel Set
Stanley 4-18-298 3 Piece Cold Chisel Set

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